October is breast cancer awareness month – as you must know, unless you are color blind. The Indiana Hoosiers went down to defeat yesterday, trimmed in the hot pink of the awareness campaign. The World Health Organization, however, is not a believer. See their chart, below. No cancer at all is in the top ten, let alone breast cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is by far the world’s biggest killer. Stroke and heart disease account for three out of ten deaths. So, where is the black ribbon of heart attack month?
Of course, people respond emotionally to disease. If someone you know suffers from, say, Multiple Sclerosis, then for you that is the world’s worst disease. Public policy, however, must be informed by the numbers. Here is the WHO again:
Cause-of-death statistics help health authorities determine their focus for public health actions. A country where deaths from heart disease and diabetes rapidly rise over a period of a few years, for example, has a strong interest … to help prevent these illnesses.
The breast cancer campaign is a lot of fun. The pink ribbons are fun, the slogans are fun, and the ads feature … healthy breasts! If it were just about getting more women to have mammograms, it would all be good fun. Even early detection is discredited, however. See Our Feel Good War on Breast Cancer.
For every 2,000 women screened annually over 10 years, one life is prolonged but 10 healthy women are given diagnoses of breast cancer and unnecessarily treated, often with therapies that themselves have life-threatening side effects.
This emotional response to health policy is emblematic of what’s wrong with all policy in America today, from identity politics to economic policy. No one makes an effort to think critically. We just climb aboard the bandwagon with the ribbons and the celebrities.
See also: My Disease Isn’t a Cutesy Slogan
Update: Now trending on Twitter is #NoBraDay, which embodies everything tacky and offensive about the campaign.