eating Oreo cookies help cure breast cancer? Delightful Deliveries
would like you to think so. For $29.99, they will send you a box of
nine white chocolate Oreos, decorated with shocking pink sprinkles and
edible pink ribbons. Or if you prefer, for the same price, you can
get a giant pink fortune cookie decorated in the same sprinkles and
According to my local newspaper, which
featured these cookies in a photo spread that urged readers to "Shop
for a cause. Buy products that support the fight against breast
cancer." Delightful Deliveries will donate 10% of the proceeds from
the sale of these cookies to the Susan G. Komen Foundation (although
there is no mention of this on the Delightful Deliveries website). The
rest presumably benefits their corporate coffers.
The company's website does suggest that you send these delectable
items to a "Breast Cancer Survivor as a unique and sweet way to show
your support." This seems like a rather irresponsible sales pitch
given that one of the most standard pieces of advice given, both for
cancer patients and those seeking to prevent it, is to eat a healthy
There are numerous diseases for which runs and walkathons are used to
raise money. Breast cancer is unique however in the extent to which
cause marketing exhorts us to shop for a cure. While no doubt many
corporations have the best of intentions, some of the marketing is
disturbingly deceptive and seemingly designed more to promote the
company than benefit the cause.
Of particular concern are products that contain ingredients that have
been linked to cancer. Many cosmetics contain parabens. According to
Breast Cancer Action, "Parabens are chemical preservatives that have
been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone
function. (Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally
occurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens has
been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.)"
When a company like Estee Lauder donates money from the sale of
lipstick that contains parabens, it is quite troubling. The same can
be said for Yoplait's "Save the Lid, Save a Life" campaign that asks
consumers to buy yogurt containing rBGH, which has been linked to
breast cancer as well. As is the pink Teflon-coated cookware being
sold by Meijer stores. Teflon is made with PFOA, a chemical considered
by the EPA to be a likely carcinogen.
Think Before You Pink, a campaign organized by Breast Cancer Action
has an excellent list of questionable corporations on their
website. The website also has a good list of questions one
should ask about these products, such as:
* How much money from the sale of each product actually goes towards
fighting breast cancer?
* Which organizations benefit?
* What does the company do to insure that its products aren't part
don't contribute to causing cancer?
It also would be worthwhile to ask organizations such as the Komen
Foundation whether they see a conflict of interest in accepting funds
from the sale of such products.
Unfortunately it isn't just corporations that are jumping on the pink
bandwagon. Numerous states are now raising breast cancer awareness
with special license plates. Late last year, First Lady Glenna
Fletcher unveiled the state of Kentucky's new pink "Drive for a Cure"
plate. This too unfortunately is an oxymoron. Vehicle exhaust and
pollution, including benzene which is a known carcinogen, have long
been linked to breast cancer.
Ending the scourge of breast cancer is an important goal. But as we
are inundated throughout October with requests for our time and money
to aid this cause, we need to act as conscious consumers and make sure
that our efforts are truly worthwhile.
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist
artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the
Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in
numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including,
Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The
Progressive, Rain and Thunder,
Common Dreams and
Information Clearinghouse. She blogs at WIMN Online.