Cancer awareness and promotions for cancer research donations are common in retail. Oftentimes food and beverage companies will team up with cancer charities to entice customers to buy their products while donating a portion of the sale to research. This mutually beneficial partnership helps to contribute to the millions of dollars that are raised to fight cancer every year.
Pinkwashing, the term given when companies turn their products pink to commemorate breast cancer awareness, has even shown up on alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol can lead to cancer, including breast cancer, so such a partnership seems to convey conflicting messages. The fact that the products themselves can cause cancer is more than ironic.
This discrepancy was brought to the attention of researchers, who published a paper in the journal Addiction. “Big Alcohol’s pinkwashing is a deceptive, egregious, and exploitive cause-marketing practice that does more harm than good. Cancer charities need to reconsider any marketing partnerships and sponsorship relationships with alcohol brands. Local, state, and federal regulators must end this charade, in the honor of those who have fallen victim to alcohol-related disease,” commented Bruce Lee Livingston, Alcohol Justice Executive Director and CEO.
Studies have shown that 8% of new breast cancer cases can be traced back to excessive alcohol use. So, even though alcohol companies are promotion breast cancer awareness and may even be donating portions of their sales to research, they are potentially doing more harm than good.
Other studies show that, in general, women are drinking too much already. Marketing ploys like pinkwashing, only serve to increase the amount of alcohol that women drink. Researchers agree that women should be more concerned with their chances of getting cancer, rather than drinking alcohol that promotes cancer research.
The cancer fundraising industry has been under scrutiny lately, as some organizations have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, with most of it being spent on operations and paying employees and only a very small amount going to cancer treatment or research. We encourage everyone to contribute to charitable organizations, but this should also serve as a reminder to do a bit of research of your own on the company you’re giving your money to.