03 October 2011

Letter sent to Komen for the Cure about their perfume by BCA and Letter from Komen for the Cure

Dear Ambassador Brinker, Ms. Lucero, and Ms. McGhee,

I am joining with Breast Cancer Action (BCAction) to urge you to take the following actions to prioritize women’s health over pinkwashing profits:

(1) Immediately recall Promise Me perfume from distribution and sale in order to take every precaution to protect women’s health.

I am outraged to learn that Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned a perfume called Promise Me to sell in the name of breast cancer. According to independent lab testing, Promise Me contains chemicals not listed on the label that: (a) are regulated as toxic and hazardous, (b) have not been evaluated for safety with humans, and (c) which have demonstrated negative health effects. One of the ingredients in Promise Me is even banned by the International Fragrance Association!

While I am pleased to hear that Komen is working with the manufacturer to reformulate Promise Me perfume, I remain deeply concerned that Komen has not taken immediate steps to ensure that women are not exposed to the chemicals of concern in Promise Me by informing women of the potential health risks. I call on Komen to adopt the highest standards and take every precaution to protect women from suspected health threats by immediately and voluntarily recalling Promise Me.

(2) Sign BCAction’s Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing.

As a giant in the breast cancer field, I call on Komen to take every precaution when it comes to the pink ribbon products they promote. The term pinkwasher was coined by BCAction in 2002, as part of its Think Before You Pink® campaign, to describe a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are known or suspected to be linked to the disease.

Despite the progress in the breast cancer field over the last thirty years, today too many women are diagnosed with breast cancer and too many women die. We still do not know enough about the causes of breast cancer. Any organization which strives to “end breast cancer forever” must take every precaution to ensure that women are not exposed to anything which is suspected to increase the risk of breast cancer, even if direct cause-and-effect data is not yet available. In the absence of scientific consensus we need to adopt the highest standards: when in doubt, leave it out!

Please reassure me that Komen will never engage in pinkwashing. I urge Komen to sign BCAction’s Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing, which you have already received from Breast Cancer Action.

Promise us that Komen is committed to putting patients before profits by taking every precaution when it comes to all partnerships and the pink ribbon products they promote.

Thank you for joining me in putting women’s health first.


Letter received from Komen for the Cure.

Thank you for your email to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® about the Promise Me fragrance. The fragrance was designed especially for Susan G. Komen for the Cure by TPR Holdings, which is donating $1 million to Komen annually for breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment programs. The funds raised through the sale of the perfume will be put to good use in the pursuit of that goal.
Our first concern is always the safety and well-being of women and men facing this disease. To that end, our partners’ products are subject to review by our Medical and Scientific Affairs team, which evaluated the perfume’s ingredients, the latest research, and guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to our research, the ingredients found in Promise Me are within fragrance and cosmetic industry standards, and at these levels have not been shown to elevate breast cancer risk in people. At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, we support evidence-based medicine, that is, decisions based on current facts and knowledge. In addition, we make this information available to our constituents, respecting that they are intelligent consumers who make informed decisions about the use of products based on evidence. As new research and new findings are published, we will certainly take them into account.
Nevertheless, at Komen’s request and to be sensitive to these concerns, the manufacturer agreed to reformulate the perfume. The last batch of the perfume was manufactured in May of this year; we expect manufacturing and sale of the reformulated product to begin in early 2012. We do not intend to ask the manufacturer to recall or remove unsold products.
Komen has always believed that ending cancer requires research about how it begins and how it might be prevented, which is why Komen has invested more than $65 million to prevention research and an additional $7 million supporting 18 projects investigating environmental estrogens, pesticides, steroid hormones, and nitrites/nitrates and their relation to breast cancer.
We’re also taking action for clarity and consensus around the direction that environmental research should take in the future, which is why we requested – and are funding – a $1 million study by the Institute of Medicine to answer that question. We expect IOM’s recommendations in December, along with IOM’s assessment of evidence-based strategies for individuals to reduce their risk of breast cancer.
Komen is strongly committed to addressing breast cancer through science, advocacy and community and global outreach to achieve our mission to end breast cancer, forever.

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