White House Goes Pink Tonight
Pink light will shine on the White House tonight in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, the White House tweeted Thursday. The lights will illuminate the North Portico of the White House and the main gate of the Naval Observatory until 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, ABC News reports. Thursday's announcement comes after President Obama officially acknowledged on October 1 that the all-too-common cancer—which will affect an estimated 207,090 women this year—is recognized this month. "During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we stand with our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, and we recognize all who have joined their loved ones in fighting their battle, as well as the advocates, researchers, and healthcare providers whose care and hard work gives hope to those living with breast cancer," Obama said in a statement. "By educating ourselves and supporting innovative research, we will improve the quality of life for all Americans affected by breast cancer and, one day, defeat this terrible disease." Obama isn't the first to bathe the White House in pink; former President George W. Bush did so in 2008, according to ABC. Last year, the Obama administration displayed a large pink ribbon.
Proclamations and public displays recognizing National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, however, may not mean uncovering the causes of breast cancer any faster. Some experts say they're frustrated with what we still don't know.
It's that time of the year again, when women are told to don pink and think about breast cancer. And, yes, we're thinking about it: An illogical but attention-grabbing Facebook breast cancer awareness campaign to get women to post "I like it on the floor/I like it on the couch" status updates—where they like to put their purse, not have sex—went viral this week. And thanks to the Susan G. Komen Foundation pink ribbon campaign, which first launched 25 years ago, we are much more aware now about the importance of early detection via mammograms and regular breast exams, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports. (U.S. News is participating in a fundraising campaign for the foundation.) Yet many of those who are deeply engaged in research to find a breast cancer cure aren't happy with the way things are going. "I really don't feel like celebrating," wrote Fran Visco on Oct. 4 in this Huffington Post blog; she's president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more research. "Twenty-five years ago, in the United States, 110 women died of breast cancer every day," she continued in her blog. "Twenty-five years and billions of private and public research dollars later, that number is 110. Every day. Not much progress, is it?" (She's right, but that doesn't take population growth into account. The death rate from breast cancer is about 15 percent below what it was in 1985.)
Breast cancer surgeon Susan Love expressed these same negative sentiments to me. She recently published the 20th-anniversary edition of her best-selling Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. It's much thicker than it used to be, due to bulked-up chapters with new information on the science of breast cancer and the wider assortment of treatments. But, she tells me, the chapters on causes and prevention of the disease haven't changed that much over the past two decades. "There's frustration out there that we don't know more," she says. "We're wearing pink, walking and running to raise money for research, God knows we're aware, and yet we still don't really have a clue what causes this disease."
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