You know the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The ubiquitous pink ribbons that symbolize breast cancer awareness? That’s them. You might also remember they were involved in a big scandal last year when they decided to halt their grants to Planned Parenthood, seemingly motivated by the politics of Karen Handel, the Vice-President of Public Policy at that time.
While I’m all in favor of breast cancer prevention and treatment, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has been driving me crazy for a long time. Rather than keeping women abreast of the best scientific research on breast cancer, their campaigns actually spread misinformation.
Science writer Christie Aschwanden was just awarded the prize for best Commentary/Opinion piece by the National Association of Science Writers for her blog post The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I wanted to post that article here, because I love it so much. In a nutshell, Aschwanden points out the problems with focusing on mammograms as the primary means of preventing breast cancer deaths: the false positives, the unnecessary medical procedures (which come with their own risks), the fast-growing tumors in which screening is not very useful, and the victim-blaming that the Komen campaigns can encourage. I wish all women would read it.