It’s hard to go into almost any business geared toward the female shopper this month without seeing a wide range of pink-themed products that either imply or claim directly to be involved in finding a “cure” for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings many solid, helpful events that provide information on early detection and treatment which could one day help save lives. On the other hand, the month also brings an array of dubious enticements that may only remove money from the shoppers’ wallets.
There are steps you can take to make informed purchases, says Breast Cancer Action (BCA), a San-Francisco-based group which says it’s the “watchdog” of the breast cancer awareness movement. The 20-year-old membership organization states it is the only national breast cancer organization that does not accept funding from entities that profit from or contribute to cancer, including the pharmaceutical industry.
Since 2004, BCA has focused on the inefficiency of funding breast cancer research by buying pink ribbon products, stating that there is no clear way to determine how much money is actually raised, how much is being spent and where all the dollars are going. Without coordination of research, BCA claims money is being wasted and encourages breast cancer research funders to coordinate their efforts.
BCA advises consumers to ask the following five questions before buying any pink products, and explains what's behind the questions.
1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?
When the package does state the amount of the donation, is that amount enough? Fox Home Entertainment, for example, sold “DVDs for the Cure” for $14.95 and donated 50 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Is this a significant contribution, or a piddly amount? You decide. If you can’t tell how much money is being donated, or if you don’t think it’s enough, give directly to the organization instead.
2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
Many companies place a cap on the amount of money that will be donated.