Breast cancer feels bad, and October is supposed to make us feel better about it.
Whether we feel better because we bought pink ribbon cosmetics, flew in a pink ribbon airplane or strolled around in a pink ribbon walker, we feel comforted that we have done our part to "raise awareness." But when one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, how much more awareness do we need? It is time to take action to stop the disease before it starts. When women come together we have the power to truly honor survivors, save lives and prevent future generations from suffering.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a transient comfort. Women wake up in November with breast cancer, get diagnosed in December, die in March, and their children go to school without a mother in April. Every single month of the year, in September, November, December, and onward more than 3,000 women die of breast cancer each month and more than 100 die each day. This cycle goes on every single day -- that's 365 days of the year.
We know what we need to do to prevent breast cancer and prevent women from suffering. We can prevent children from losing their mothers, teachers and the other essential women in their lives. There are thousands of studies linking chemical exposures to breast cancer and the science is clear: Our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation are connected to our breast cancer risk. We know that if we reduced exposures to these harmful substances, we would reduce breast cancer rates. Scientific evidence now shows that some chemicals, especially endocrine disrupting compounds, can exert negative effects at extremely low levels of exposure -- sometimes with more serious or different effects than at higher doses. Many authoritative reports and papers endorse the connection between toxic chemicals, radiation and breast cancer risk, including the Endocrine Society, President's Cancer Panel Report: Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, the Institute of Medicine, and the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee.
As we come to the end of 2015 we have not shifted the course of breast cancer prevention. The emphasis on early detection, treatment and cure remain the pink ribbon's marching orders.
What can we do:
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1. The Senate is (finally) considering reform of the way our nation regulates toxic chemicals, but the current bill it's considering isn't strong enough to get the job done. Act now to ensure the Senate enacts truly meaningful chemical policy reform that puts Americans' health before chemical industry self-interests.
2. Vote with your dollars. Be conscious about the products you buy 365 days of the year by supporting businesses that strive to protect our health and the health of our environment.
3. Rethink the Pink. Join the Breast Cancer Fund in our quest to stop the disease before it starts.
I envision a world in which we live without fear of losing our breasts or our lives as a result of what we've eaten, touched or breathed because the environmental causes of breast cancer have been identified and eliminated.
With this knowledge we have a responsibility to act for all the women in our lives!