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How breast cancer awareness month became “more than pink”

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Oct 1, 2019
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In 2016, the Susan G. Komen foundation adopted the new slogan "more than pink." Courtesy of the Susan G. Komen Foundation
Shelf Life

How breast cancer awareness month became “more than pink”

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Oct 1, 2019
In 2016, the Susan G. Komen foundation adopted the new slogan "more than pink." Courtesy of the Susan G. Komen Foundation
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“There almost isn’t a consumer product in America that doesn’t give you the option of associating with breast cancer,” health care journalist and breast cancer survivor Kate Pickert told Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. “This month, you will see, all over every store in America, products adorned with the pink ribbon and pushing the breast cancer cause.”

October is breast cancer awareness month. That means pink Diet Coke cans, flights of a pink-ribbon-branded airplane dubbed, “Breast Cancer One,” by Delta Airlines, and countless pink fashion and beauty items sold to raise money for breast cancer charities from brands including Ralph Lauren, Vans and Aveda.

Pickert’s new book on breast cancer is called “Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America.” She told Kai Ryssdal, “the branding of breast cancer and the ubiquity of the pink ribbon have done a lot to make people very aware of breast cancer. But one of the things that I think is true is that I think we sort of reached peak awareness.”

According to Pickert, many breast cancer charities, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the organization behind “Race for the Cure,” are trying to shift their focus away from awareness and towards action. 

“If you if you want to know how pink is changing, the Susan Komen Foundation a few years ago adopted a new slogan, and their new slogan is, ‘more than pink,’” Pickert said. “I think that they recognize that pink everywhere is not enough.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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