October 2016 newsletter

As October approaches we are awash once more with all things pink – lots of organisations, singing from the same hymn sheet. If only women would adopt a sensible lifestyle, then the incidence of breast cancer would decrease dramatically and all would be well in their pink, fluffy world.

Here at Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland we campaign on, relentlessly swimming upstream against the pink current – or so it seems. We have spent yet another year listening to all of the sage advice about a healthy diet and regular exercise. Coupled with the hard sell which screening programmes have had this past couple of years (Detect Cancer Early campaign) and you would think that the ‘cancer nut’ has finally been cracked. But the sad truth of the matter is that the incidence of breast (and other) cancers is still on the increase.

It cannot be stressed enough how important a healthy lifestyle is. The ‘buzz’ from a good workout/swim/run/cycle is second to none and even a good workout for the lungs in the increasingly popular community choir cannot be beaten. Adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables gives us the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need for a healthy body. The fly in the ointment, it has to said, is undoubtedly alcohol. Alcohol is carcinogenic; there is no escaping this fact and we should treat alcohol consumption with due respect. But how many clean living, vegetarian, abstemious, keep fit fanatics still get breast cancer? Here at CBCS HQ we know quite a few!

So whilst we support the ‘pink’ army in its quest to produce a healthier population, we do get so very, very tired of the continuous lecture on how women are to blame for their own breast cancer. And we object strongly to the healthy lifestyle message being continually, predominantly and almost exclusively linked to breast cancer. Can it not stand alone, proud and strong, for what it is? A very sensible healthy-living message?

Of all the conferences, workshops and lectures we have attended over the years, there is seldom any mention of environmental or occupational links to breast cancer. When challenged we are told “there’s not enough evidence” or “it’s too difficult to separate out all of the environmental influences”. But have a quick look at the ‘evidence’ on the links between diet + lifestyle and breast cancer specifically. It’s considerably more tenuous than the evidence coming from organisations like the Silent Spring Institute, Breast Cancer Fund etc.

So come October, take heed of the healthy lifestyle messages. As a society we are living longer. The healthier we are in mind and body the more enjoyable our old age will be – the longer we can hold back the tide the better!

But to the powers that be and the pink community in general, we say, take heed of this, our ‘pink October’ message. Stop passing the buck to women and start to take responsibility for our polluted environment and the chemical cocktails we are subjected to on a daily basis. We’ll do our bit by taking regular exercise, eating our fruit and vegetables and encouraging the next generation to breast feed their children but you have to meet us half way. Please?