On-line campaign asks, where does all the breast cancer research money go?

Barbara Ehrenreich and Breast Cancer Action (BCA) have launched an online Flash movie and email campaign that exposes the lack of coordination among more than 30 federal agencies and dozens of private foundations and pharmaceutical companies funding research on breast cancer. The campaign marks the initial phase of BCA's Breast Cancer Puzzle Project and calls for greater coordination of research funding.

The campaign launched in time for October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which BCA calls Breast Cancer Industry Month. During October hundreds of organizations and companies-from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to Avon-will host events raising money for breast cancer. The email and Flash movie point out that despite the estimated millions of dollars pouring into breast cancer research, no one knows exactly how much money is being raised and spent every year, or where all the money is going.

"What we do know is that far too many of us are getting and dying from this disease. We can't let this fractured approach to breast cancer research continue," says Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action. "Solving breast cancer is like a jigsaw puzzle. But currently, the researchers and funders aren't looking at the big picture and working to fit the pieces together." Brenner was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and again in 1996, after which she had a mastectomy. Since her first diagnosis, she has focused her personal and political efforts on ensuring that the next generation of women will not face the same scourge of breast cancer facing women today.

Despite all the research conducted for breast cancer during the 20 years since corporations created Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer rates continue to rise. Every 2.5 minutes another woman is diagnosed. Every 13 minutes a woman dies from the disease. We need more than awareness; we need action.

"I would have screamed bloody murder had I known years ago when I had breast cancer how poorly coordinated funding and research on this killer disease is," writes Barbara Ehrenreich in the email that was sent out this morning to launch the Flash movie. Ehrenreich is the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and, like Brenner, is also living with breast cancer. The email encourages women and men to question how funding is used by the companies and agencies conducting breast cancer research, and to ask research funders to coordinate their efforts to find the environmental causes of, and more effective and less toxic treatments for breast cancer.

The one-minute Flash movie lists many of the well-known funders of breast cancer research, highlighting the disjointed nature of this field of research. Think Before You Pink, a project of Breast Cancer Action now in its third year, features the internet movie on its website, www.ThinkBeforeYouPink.org.

Think Before You Pink was launched to encourage consumers to follow the money and be savvier about how, and to whom they give in the breast cancer field.

Breast Cancer Action carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the epidemic and organizes people to do something besides worry about the disease. Founded in 1990 by a group of women who realized the power of community, BCA was born out of the need for a grassroots organization with a unique understanding of the political, economic, and social context of breast cancer.


  1. Pioneer Pioneer United States says:

    I am getting tired of hearing about this project everywhere I turn. I am all for research of this dread disease, but I am starting to think I am throwing money down a rathole. There is not accountability, no coordination, no announcements of any breakthroughs. After billions of dollars have been collected, one would think there would be more than just more doctors treating women with experiments.

    Americans are gullible creatures to a fault. If someone is in need, Americans are first n foremost in directing aid to them.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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