Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she had had a prophylactic double mastectomy prompted a thoughtful piece on NPR today. In it, Todd Tuttle, chief of surgical oncology at the University of Minnesota, discussed the motivations underlying such decisions. The number of women choosing this extreme form of preventive medicine has risen dramatically in recent years and is also much higher in the US than in Europe, although women there have the same access to surgery and reconstruction.
One cause, he said, was that women tend to greatly exaggerate their breast cancer risk when extrapolating from genetics or family history. Why is this? The NPR piece suggests that “the ubiquitous pink-ribbon campaigns may be fueling the rise in mastectomies.” We’d like to see the evidence, but it’s a profoundly ironic notion:
Could the campaign to “Save the Ta-Tas” in fact be reducing their numbers?
In an age of super-sensitive, ever more powerful diagnostics and a culture that favors preventive medicine, it becomes increasingly important for people to actually understand abstract concepts such as risk and probability.
And here are a few more images to finish out the month. It’s Halloween–and what could be sexier and scarier than breast cancer? If you hurry, you may still be able to run down to Walgreen’s drug store and pick up one of these babies:
And if you need to hold something in place, just use your handy breast cancer stapler (these really do have awkward resonances, don’t they?)
More stationery for the cure…
We got breast cancer snacks:
…and breast cancer juice:
…AAAAnd breast cancer water. Bottoms up! That’s all I got.
Good article in USA today about the way some of the breast cancer awareness promotions grossly sexualize and objectify women. This isn’t awareness–it’s just plain old-fashioned brainless ogling. (Tip of the hat to Andrea Kuszewski)
Maybe I have a twisted perspective, but this strikes me as particularly bad taste:
I just imagining someone one dying of breast cancer and her family being given these; or, even worse…
Three exclamation points means you REALLY CARE!!!
Worst of all, though, was the funeral home I passed (alas, without my phone) with, yep, a breast-cancer awareness banner draped across the front. What, do they have a special this month: die of breast cancer in October, get 10% off your casket? In fairness, though, I can understand the logic behind the banner. If someone is cured, they are on the side of humanitarianism and compassion; if not, business just gets better. It’s a win-win!
Feel like a nice, conscience-appeasing grilled cheese sandwich? Keep in mind that according to the CDC, Black women have a 60% higher death rate due to breast cancer. Yet our local store features this breast cancer bread:
What, no pendulous pumpernickel? And of course, Americans love their processed cheese-like food products, so pick up a pack of pink slices while you’re at the store…
Moving from meat and dairy to the produce section, here’s a slew of garden-variety cancer-research-supporting products. Appease your conscience while getting lots of vitamins and fiber! I feel better already!