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Is "pink" overload taking the focus off the cause of breast cancer awareness?

By HILARY LANE

(WKTV) - Walk into almost any store and you will find companies around the world vowing to donate proceeds from the sale of their pink products to the fight against breast cancer.

However, is the message of prevention and treatment getting lost in the marketing efforts of the pink brand?

We asked 25-year cancer survivor Karen Christenson.

"I think many people just put pink lettering on their products and expect to sell it - pink hammers, pink screwdrivers, pink ladders, pink hairdryers. You run the gamut," says Christenson. "This month is like a pepto-bismol month because everything is pink. I am not so sure how much that helps breast cancer."

Pink overload, or "pink washing" as it is being nicknamed by some, is certainly at its peak this month because October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"This month is very difficult for survivors to get through, because it is a constant reminder we have had breast cancer," says Christenson. "We go to the store to buy something and there is a Pink Swiffer that screams 'breast cancer, breast cancer.' We have breast cancer and now we try to get on with our lives."

Even though "buy pink" might seem like a marketing gimmick, there is no denying the fact that the spotlight on breast cancer has helped save lives.

"The awareness part of it is so important. We have seen the rates from breast cancer drop over the last 10 years, which I think is due to the awareness for women knowing they need to be screened annually with a mammogram for breast cancer," says Peter Cittadino, Community Executive Director at the American Cancer Society, Mohawk Valley Region.

But, how do you know if your money is actually going to support cancer research and treatments when you buy these products?

"Ask questions," says Cittadino. "If you are not familiar with the organization that is promoting it, do a little bit of research to find out. It's easy enough today with a phone call or go online."

Cittadino says to make sure to look at the back of pink packages for more information about exactly where funds are being donated to.

If you have questions, you can turn to the the Mohawk Valley chapter of the American Cancer Society for information on anything breast cancer related.

You can reach them by phone at 315-724- 8125.

There is also a website dedicated to making sure you are not duped by a pinkwasher: www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org

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