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“Pink Ribbon” Messaging is Shameful

When I was in the 3rd grade, I wrote that I wanted to be like the singer Tony Orlando because he had pretty backup singers, and could sing along with his audience. I was fortunate to have an older brother who was a music lover, and he would constantly introduce me to cool bands like Fleetwood Mac, and Jethro Tull. But it didn’t matter, I liked Tony Orlando and Dawn. As a result, at nine years old, I went out and bought one of my first records, Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Greatest Hits. Why? I loved the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” (written by L. Russell Brown & Irwin Levine). Okay, so I have never been accused of being the coolest person in the room. As the years passed, and the song seemed cheesier, I somehow still enjoyed it. In retrospect, I know now it is because of the lyrics. The story can still create a tingle. If you are unfamiliar, the songwriter, L. Russel Brown, explained his inspiration for the song with the following anecdote: “There was an article…it was about a soldier coming home from Andersonville Prison in the Civil War and he was going to Pennsylvania. He told his girl in a letter, “I’ll understand if I should stay on the stagecoach. But if I shouldn’t, tie a big yellow handkerchief on the big oak tree outside of town. And then I’ll know if it’s there, I should get off, but I’ll understand that you found someone else in the last three years.” He couldn’t bear to look at it himself. So he told the other people in the stagecoach and the driver to please look…When they got to the big oak tree, everybody yelled and screamed. He looked out the window, and it was covered with yellow handkerchiefs. A chill went up my neck. I said, “My God! Boy, that would make a great song.”

Fast forward many years, and there are countless other heartwarming tales of ribbons being used to symbolize love and hope as well (some include sick children and the passing of loved ones). As a result, if you were looking to raise money, a ribbon would be a good choice for an emblem, and a pink ribbon would be even better. The color pink also represents love, kindness and femininity (I had to look it up). So, if you really wanted to tug on someone’s heart strings, and convince them to support your cause financially, you would be hard pressed to come up with a better symbol than a pink ribbon. Which is why, all things considered, the deceptive “Pink Ribbon” messaging by the breast cancer juggernaut, The Susan G. Komen (for the Cure) Foundation, is all the more insulting. These types of organizations have no interest in the cause and prevention of cancer or any other diseases, other than how that kind of information could potentially hurt their financial bottom line in their relentless pursuit of even more wealth and power. If they did care, why wouldn’t they refer everyone to the many “mic drop” published articles such as the Healthy Living is the Best Revenge study, where researchers followed 63,000 participants and found that those who followed a plant-based diet, watched their weight, didn’t smoke, and exercised regularly, reduced their chances of developing a chronic disease by 78%? If people knew the science, and that the only proven way to reverse heart disease, early stage prostate cancer, and type 2 diabetes was through the adoption of a low fat, whole food plant-based diet, then there would be no need for the exploitative organizations like The Susan G. Komen Foundation, The American Heart Association, The American Diabetes Association, The American Cancer Society, and many others. These so-called “health” organizations know that, and are worse than sleazy, because they take advantage of vulnerable people, through lying, and manipulated messaging strategies. I mean, who doesn’t like the sentimental idea of a pink ribbon, and showing solidarity with others by wearing one? We are just easy targets, I guess.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation manages hundreds of millions of dollars (with their officers in recent years making between $550,000 to $700,000 annually), and has received millions of dollars in financial support from the meat and dairy industries too, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dietz & Watson, and Yoplait yogurt (among others). Is it any coincidence then that the Susan G. Komen Foundation provides recipes on its website that include the very foods (meat, dairy and eggs), that cause cancer in the first place? And does anyone think that this same organization that continues to rake in tons of money, would want to be honest with people regarding the power of plant-based nutrition, and how it can greatly reduce anyone’s risk for disease? Or explain to their followers who may have deep pockets, or to those who may already be burdened with disease, how their illnesses might be reversed with a low fat, whole food plant-based diet? Of course not, they will never go there. The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is primarily meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods, is by far, the biggest contributing factor to disease in the United States. Yet the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which claims to place people over profits, will never share that kind of game changing information. If they did, their bursting revenues would dry up, and eventually their organization would no longer exist. As a result, they just double down, and continue to tell people what they want to hear, rather than the truth. And that means convincing the public that they care deeply, while also encouraging them to eat whatever it is they want to eat. Their “Pink Ribbon” messaging suggests that there is a constant and feverish attempt to find a cure, but that they can only do so much research without the continuous financial support from the people, and the powerful industries that are complicit with their actions (according to their own website, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has invested more than $920 million in breast cancer research). Any serious discussions about cause, prevention, and nutrition, are left off the table. Purveyors of death? You bet.

But it is not just the Susan G. Komen Foundation that is operating, in my opinion, in a criminal fashion. According to the excellent film, “What the Health”, there are plenty of other organizations playing the same lucrative and deadly game.

– The American Cancer Society has no warning about meat on its site and even suggests recipes that include processed meat (a class 1 carcinogen). The American Cancer Society receives financial support from Tyson Foods, among others.
– There are recipes for meat and dairy dishes on the American Diabetes Association website. The American Diabetes association receives support from Dannon Yogurt, among others.
– There are “heart healthy” recipes for beef dishes on the American Heart Association website. The American Heart Association receives financial support from the Texas Beef Council, among others.
– The Susan G. Komen Foundation denies any links between dairy products and breast cancer, even though they are well known.
– These organizations all receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry.
– It should also be noted that the USDA has a serious conflict of interest because it is tasked with promoting meat and dairy products, while also establishing the US dietary guidelines.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the “Pink Ribbon” messaging is that it promotes complacency, and provides a false sense of hope and comfort to everyone involved. A sick person who buys into the Susan G. Komen Foundation “Pink Ribbon” messaging, will be led to believe that there is nothing that they can do until a cure is found, and that as a result, they should simply continue with whatever lifestyle habits are most familiar (which in all likelihood, made them sick in the first place). Family and friends will receive the same messaging too, and will be far less likely to offer the necessary level of support and inspiration to help their loved one transition to a plant-based lifestyle (again, the only diet proven to reverse heart disease, early stage prostate cancer, and type 2 diabetes). Complacency is the enemy during a health crisis. Especially one, that far more often than not, requires immediate lifestyle changes and action. Donors to the Susan G. Komen Foundation will be affected as well, and lulled into a false sense of accomplishment. I know that they may have the best intentions, but their hard earned money will only be contributing to the enormous revenues of this so-called “health” organization, and not in affecting change, in a real, and immediate way. The Pink Ribbon messaging approach also provides most people with what they want to hear, and unfortunately, people love to hear good things about their bad habits.

Imagine too the level of arrogance and recklessness that is required for an organization like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, to completely disregard nutritional science, and all of its implications (causes, prevention, treatment, chances for reversal of disease, etc.). Their approach reflects what Dr. T. Colin Campbell refers to as a reductionist mindset, where they claim, and may even believe, that there is a single cause of breast cancer. And that once this chemical or mechanism(s) is identified, a profitable, and ongoing treatment or therapy can be created. This is just wrong, and dangerous on every level.

And it reminds of a few quotes by Dr. Campbell as well:
“Everything in food works together to create health or disease. The more we think that a single chemical characterizes a whole food, the more we stray into idiocy…The American people need to know the truth. They need to know what we have uncovered in our research. People need to know why we are unnecessarily sick, why too many of us die early despite the billions spent on research. The irony is that the solution is simple and inexpensive. The answer to the American health crisis is the food that each of us chooses to put in our mouths each day. It’s as simple as that…Our study suggests the closer one approaches a total plant based diet, the greater the health benefit.”

So, what to do when you can’t trust the “profits over people” health organizations? According to Dr. Kristi Funk, a healthy diet and lifestyle can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer. The healthiest meals are plant-based, low fat, and high fiber, and include an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, 100% whole grains (like brown rice and oats), and non-animal proteins such as lentils, beans, and soy.

Here are Dr. Funk’s steps for avoiding breast cancer, and most diseases (courtesy of
1. Choose Plant-Based Foods
2. Exercise Regularly
3. Limit Alcohol
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

So, there we have it. Pink Ribbon messaging, and the many so-called “health” organizations. Deadly stuff indeed.

*There is more to the story as well, as other businesses, organizations, and even sports leagues have jumped onto the shameful “Pink Ribbon” or “Pink Product” messaging game too.

Click here to learn more about the origins of the classic “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” song.
Click here for a Tony Orlando & Dawn performance of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”
Click here to learn more about pink ribbon messaging from
Click here to learn more about how to beat breast cancer from Dr. Kristi Funk.
Click here to learn more about the Susan G. Komen Foundation from Charity Navigator.
Click here to see the harmful recipes that the Susan G. Komen Foundation promotes.
Click here for the excellent documentary “What the Health”.
Click here to learn more about the “What the Health” documentary.
Click here for a link to the official “What the Health” website.
Click here for the Healthy Living is the Best Revenge Study.
Click here to learn more about the links between dairy products and breast cancer from
Click here to learn more about the link between chicken consumption and cancer risk.
Click here to learn more about egg consumption and breast cancer risk.
Click here for a link to Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s latest book “The Future of Nutrition.”
Click here to learn more from Barbara Ehrenreich on the awfulness of Pink Ribbon messaging.

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