Breast Cancer, Pinkwashing, and the Importance of Prevention

November 29, 2023
4:00 pm US Eastern Time

You can watch the recording of this webinar here.

While finding cures for breast cancer is crucial, directing resources toward prevention will have a much larger impact on society by reducing incidence of the disease. Prevention efforts can decrease the occurrence of breast cancer, alleviating individuals from the physical, emotional, and financial hardships associated with the diagnosis. 

Research indicates that over half of cancer cases are preventable, with environmental chemicals playing a large role in their development. Given that many of these chemical hazards can be avoided, they represent opportunities for proactive prevention. In Alaska, female breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among Alaska Native women. An increasing number of breast cancer cases cannot be explained by known risk factors such as family history, age, or reproductive history.

ACAT recently released Protecting Our Mamaqs: An Environmental Health Toolkit for Breast Cancer Prevention, which is designed to train community health aides and other health care professionals about environmental contaminants that are linked with breast cancer. “Mamaqs” is the Yupik work for breasts – the title reflects our commitment to addressing high rates of breast cancer among Alaska Native people.

In this webinar, Nancy Buermeyer, director of program and policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, discussed her organization’s work in eliminating toxic chemicals and other environmental exposures linked to the disease. For the last 3 decades, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners has been leading the way for science-based public education and policy advocacy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other health harms linked to environmental chemicals.

Krystal Redman (KR), executive director of Breast Cancer Action, discussed pinkwashing. This term, coined in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action, refers to situations in which a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, while at the same time manufacturing, producing, or selling products that are linked to the disease. KR will discuss Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign, which calls for more transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon propaganda.

Featured Speakers

Nancy Buermeyer, MS (she/her) works at the state and federal levels to advance public policy to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals. Before joining BCPP, Nancy spent over 20 years in Washington DC advocating for numerous causes, including civil rights for women and the GLBT community. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and earned a Masters degree in Biological Oceanography from the University of Connecticut. Nancy is an avid outdoors person, spending her spare time hiking and birding in Northern California and beyond.

Krystal Redman (KR), DrPH (she/they) is Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action. Rooted in her political lineage of grassroots organizing and activism toward Black and queer liberation and health equity in the heart of LA–Dr. Redman centers her work in Health Justice, the liberation of folx who reside deep within the margins and in Reproductive Justice. Dr. Redman is a self-published author, and a frequent speaker throughout sexual and reproductive justice, and health justice movement(s), as well as in the public health sector. They bring over 16 years of experience in leading health promotion and disease prevention initiatives, as well as organizing towards equitable access, care and treatment within community-based and centered programs. Prior to beginning her relationship with Breast Cancer Action, Dr. Redman has held executive leadership positions within public health and healthcare organizations. They also continue to lead a southern based reproductive justice organization. Mainly, her role(s) have centered on working to expand resources, information, health education, and access to equitable care and coverage to young people, womxn, and families. Beyond her work in service to those with the furthest relationships to power, Dr. Redman is most proud and driven by their role as a parent to her cute little one “Amyr,” who keeps her animated, grounded and centered.

This webinar was hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). Driven by a core belief in environmental justice, ACAT empowers communities to eliminate exposure to toxics through collaborative research, shared science, education, organizing, and advocacy.