Komen for the Cure claims that the organization is the “boldest community fueling the best science and making the biggest impact” in the fight against breast cancer. But a narrow focus on a “cure” while ignoring prevention makes no sense at all. If all research stopped tomorrow, it would be a terrible loss. But it would still be an easy matter to prevent the majority of cancer, including breast cancer, from occurring in the first place.
We love to walk, we love pink headbands. But the simplest, easiest, lowest-cost way to reduce incidents of cancer and heart disease by the millions is to get secondhand smoke off our campuses, out of our homes, out of our workplaces, and out of public places.
We don't need additional research to address the most preventable cause of cancer for millions of people, many of them children, who do not smoke but are forced to smoke involuntarily at their breakfast tables, while they do their homework, and even while they sleep because of neighbors whose smoke creates unhealthy air for all the tenants in housing with shared walls.
Most people don't smoke. But few of them get the honest benefits of not smoking, because it only takes one nearby smoker to create seriously unhealthy air for dozens of people. And there is no safe dose.
If Komen Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker wants the level of motivation her organization had before the Planned Parenthood disaster, she might want to re-name and re-focus her organization: prevention certainly includes doing more research on cancer, but all researchers know that prevention is the quick, low-cost road to community health.
Carol Denney is a community activist, musician, and bike commuter.