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  • Writer's pictureMelisha Meredith

Pinkwashing During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

a pink ribbon folded to resemble the breast cancer awareness ribbon

Because of the growing awareness of breast cancer experientially and the related Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, I think it’s safe to say most recognize the pink ribbon logo that symbolizes the awareness month.

Before I describe what pinkwashing is and why it’s a problem, I want to say that I do support creating awareness about breast cancer and every other type of cancer. I especially want to support women and families affected by this horrible disease.

Since 1960 breast cancer diagnosis rates have increased 150%. A family history of breast cancer increases the risk, but the Breast Cancer Foundation says that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and most of those diagnoses are not associated with another family member with the disease. So, when we think about families impacted, it’s a very significant number of families in America.

What is pinkwashing?

The term 'pinkwashing' is associated with companies that use the pink ribbon logo or use the support of breast cancer charities in their marketing to promote one of their products, while at the same time they manufacture products that have been proven to contain ingredients that are linked to breast cancer; or they are used in a manner that associates it with the increased risk of disease.

a number of popular food brands products with unhealthy ingredients include "pink" packaging for cancer awareness month
Photo cred: @thenaturalmindedmama


In 2008, Think Before You Pink launched an online campaign against Yoplait, the national sponsor of Susan G. Komen's annual walk. Their pink-lidded yogurt was sold to raise money for breast cancer but was made from dairy containing the hormone rBGH or rBST (recombinant bovine growth hormone or recombinant bovine somatotrophin). Thankfully, with enough pressure from the public, General Mills (the manufacture of Yoplait) pledged to go rBGH free. But this is not always the case.

(And as a side note, Yoplait yogurt made one step in the right direction but is still not a company that I believe produces truly health products.) *


In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned a perfume called Promise Me that contains unlisted chemicals that are regulated as toxic and hazardous, have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and have demonstrated negative health effects. Although Komen said they would reformulate future versions of the perfume, without official adoption of the precautionary principle, there is no guarantee that future versions would be better. *

What can we do?

First, understand the tactics behind a company’s marketing. A business needs to make money, and I’m okay with that. But I’m not okay with unethical marketing that confuses consumers who really want to help.

If you are someone who really wants to help women with breast cancer by donating money or buying products where part of the purchase is donated, make sure you are supporting organizations that handle their money responsibly.

Finding a local family and supporting them directly is another option.

Also, start making changes in your own life and family that promote a life of disease prevention, inspiring others to do the same along with you!

Questions to ask about products with the pink logo:

  • Does this company promote health and wellness?

  • Does this company create products that contribute to disease or illness?

  • Will this product put me or someone else at risk for exposure to toxins linked to cancer?*

  • Does this company actually support responsible and worthy breast cancer organizations?

  • Is there a cap on how much the company will donate? Has that already been met?*

*credit: Think Before you Pink

Wishing you abundant health - Melisha

Disclaimer - This is for educational purposes and not medical advice. You should discuss your health with your doctor and/or practitioners.

Some of the links in my articles are affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you purchase after clicking through. I hope that knowing you are helping to support my small business and our family makes you smile. I will never promote anything I would not use myself.

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