For the past 25 years, October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), using pink ribbons. BCAM was actually started by the drug company Astra Zeneca (which manufactures breast cancer drugs) and the pink ribbon originated from the Estee Lauder cosmetics company.
According to an article in The Nation magazine, November 15, 1993, BCAM was conceived and paid for by a British chemical company that both profits from this epidemic and may be contributing to its cause. Imperial Chemical Industries (I.C.I.), along with two nonprofit cancer groups, co-founded BCAM in 1985. The event has grown in influence. The thirteen institutions now on its board include the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, and it has become fashionable. But since the beginning, all BCAM’s bills have been paid by Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, the name of I.C.I.’s U.S. subsidiary.
Breast Cancer Action has pointed out that BCAM avoids discussion of the causes and prevention of breast cancer and instead focuses on “awareness” as a way to encourage women to get their mammograms. They have used the term Pinkwashing to describe the actions of companies which manufacture and use chemicals which show a link with breast cancer and at the same time publicly support charities focused on curing the disease. Other criticisms center on the marketing of “pink products” and tie-ins, citing that more money is spent marketing these campaigns than is donated to the cause (from Wikipedia).