We are just past the halfway point in ‘Pinktober’, the month in which we are bombarded by a tsunami of pink ribbons and rosy messages that promise us if we run, walk, read, cook, feed our pets, cut our hair or shell out for a plethora of consumer products we will be contributing to a ‘cure’ for breast cancer.
I’d like to suggest that it’s time to untie ourselves from that ribbon and get real about breast cancer – and in fact, about all cancers.
Over the last 20-ish years since the cancer fundraising machine became popularized by various charities and corporations, millions – maybe even billions – have been raised and shuffled into projects in our quest for a cure.
Are we there yet? Hmmmmm…….
My question then is this: what if all that cash had instead been poured into programs, services, education and opportunities for people to prevent cancer? How many fewer cases would there have been and how many lives would have been saved if instead of trying to figure out different ways to diagnose and treat the disease with more drugs, more technologies and more surgical interventions, we instead equipped people with strategies and knowledge to avoid getting the disease in the first place?
Radical, eh? And a little mind blowing when you think of the simplicity of where that prevention strategy might begin. How about with the food we use to nourish ourselves, replenish our cells and make our immune system strong and healthy so it can resist disease?
I’ll admit – as a holistic nutritionist I do have a bias in favour of food as the cornerstone of good health. I am not naïve enough to believe it is the sole contributor to disease prevention but I think that Hippocrates, the acknowledged father of medicine, was onto something when he said ‘way back around 400 B.C.: “let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.”
And yet of all the buckets of cash raised each year in support of the cancer cause, how much do you think is actually being funnelled to anyone working in the whole food business to support research into cancer-preventative foods or to create wide ranging multi-media public education programs (that are equal in scope, weight, reach and ‘wow’ to all those campaigns that promote the latest fast, faux or fried food choice) to teach people the cold hard facts about how the foods they choose have a direct impact on the diseases they are going to develop or be liberated from?
I’m guessing pretty much none.
Instead we are urged to shop for the cure and continue to support companies that make products that contribute to the very opposite of cure. Processed foods, sugary drinks, cosmetics, household cleaners, alcohol, automobiles and more – each with a legacy and footprint of toxic residue and cancer-causing potential and yet each bearing the ubiquitous ribbon. If you don’t believe me – just go to any of the major cancer charities’ web sites and see who sponsors or partners with them. The list is enlightening.
How do we turn this ship around and start sailing toward a true future without cancer? Luckily some experts and natural food champions have persevered even without major funding and we are learning more and more about what foods and nutrients are cancer preventative and support our bodies in defending against the disease. Most are easily accessible – like green tea, most fruits and veggies, soy and even spices – and can be easily integrated into everyday eating.
This month – Pinktober – maybe it’s time to insist on more raspberries or radicchio instead of more ribbons. Let’s start asking questions and making cancer prevention not cancer propaganda our top priority.