When I wrote this post, The Pink Cure Nonprofit Gone Bad, just a few days ago (about how the Susan G. Komen Organization has become a nonprofit organization that I no longer trust or care to be associated with), little did I know that there would be further fodder again so soon.
SGK Deems BPA Safe
The Susan G. Komen Foundation is denying that BPA (bisphenol A) causes cancer and that it has been linked specifically to an increase in breast cancer. Specifically, the website says: "Links between plastics and cancer are often reported by the media and in e-mail hoaxes. However, there is no scientific research to support a link between using plastic items, such as drinking water from a plastic bottle, and the risk of breast cancer. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastic food and beverage containers. Small amounts of BPA from the containers can get into the food and beverages inside. As a result, we can be exposed to low levels of BPA. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest a link between BPA and the risk of breast cancer."
REALLY???!!! For an organization whose main focus is the prevention and treatment of breast cancer to allow such careless, blase statements on their website is truly shocking. Not only is the information misleading, it demonstrates a significant ignorance by the individual who wrote it. SGK has become a place where many go for information, for hope. And now we know that the information is at best questionable and, at worst, completely wrong. It raises the question of why? Why would SGK not at least make the statement that there have been concerns and they are doing research? Isn't that what they are supposed to be all about?
Perhaps to find the the best answer to this question, we need to follow the money trail. Many of SGK's biggest sponsors are corporations who utilize the chemical, BPA, in their products and have also downplayed the health concerns. Sponsors - Coca-Cola (the shareholders voted by a 3-to-1 margin to continue using BPA in the lining of its soft-drink cans), Geneal Mills, Georgia Pacific and 3M - just to name a few. Is it surprising that 3M, who has contributed more than $1 million to SGK since 2007, is also a member of The American Chemistry Council? The same council who has doggedly insisted that BPA is safe. The same council who has fought fiercely against fedeal and state proposals to ban the chemical.
SGK has come under heavy criticism for the statements on their website. In an interview, SGK's chief scientific adviser, Dr. Eric Winer, had this to say in response to the criticism, "If a woman is particularly worried about plastics, she can avoid plastics in her life." Throughout the interview, Winer deflected other experts' criticisms by stressing personal responsibility. "Nothing stops an individual woman from living her life a certain way. And if she chooses to do that, she can do that." Sounds like another medical "professional" riding the CYA train to hell.
More Chemicals Downplayed
Sadly, SGK's role of downplaying the link between chemicals and breast cancer isn't limited to BPA. Organochlorine pesticides (including the infamous DDT) is also listed as one of the "Factors That Do Not Increase Risk" on their website. A 2007 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives even suggested that women exposed to DDT as adolescents were five times more likely to develop breast cancer during adulthood. SGK's position on the role chemicals play in cancer perhaps reflects the debate within the public-health community over the importance of addressing the influence of environmental factors on cancer. Research has shown that only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States can be traced to hereditary factors. "We now know from just a whole lot of science that environmental variables have a strong influence on gene expression," said Dr. Ted Schettler, Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.
Following are statements from studies that have shown the link between BPA and breast cancer and many other health problems. Note that none of these studies were conducted by the companies actually using BPA.
"More than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity, and other health problems," according to the United States' President's Cancer Panel (2010).
"A study by the California Pacific Medical Center found that BPA even made healthy breast cells behave like cancer cells and decreased the effectiveness of yet another breast cancer drug."
"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. New analysis by the CDC indicates that many Americans are exposed to BPA at levels far above the safety threshold set by the EPA."
"Of the more than 100 independently funded experiments on BPA, about 90% have found evidence of adverse health effects at levels similar to human exposure. On the other hand, every single industry-funded study ever conducted -- 14 in all -- has found no such effects." - The Real Story on BPA
"Promise Me" Perfume Toxic?
And last, but certainly not least, the SGK foundation has come under further attack over their "Promise Me" perfume. A rival cancer-fighting charity claims that the perfume contains toxic chemicals that are not only not listed on the label, but linked to breast cancer. The executive director of Breast Cancer Action, Karuna Jagger, said that they had the fragrance tested after concerns that "it contains a number of chemicals of concern that are not listed on the ingredients." "I let them (SGK) know what chemicals were found and they responded in a confusing way," she told CBS San Farncisco.
SGK responded first by saying that they test all their ingredients and then stated that they were working with their manufacturer to reformulate the perfume. So which is it, is it safe because you tested it or does it need to be reformulated because it includes toxic chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer?
In a world teeming with man-made chemicals with unknown long-term effects, using ANY artificial ingredients is taking a chance with your health and the health of those around you (none of us has a say about what a stranger or friend uses on their own body and exposes us to). SGK's act of partnering with a manufacturer to "pink brand" a product that includes chemicals linked to breast cancer just proves that they are no different than any other organization (albeit they certainly have more free money to work with). They have put profit before people, health and humanity.
Linked at Real Food Wednesday.