Oh, the Irony: Alcohol Companies Support Cancer Research

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I can't quite get my head around this one. According to USA Today (October 5), some makers of alcohol drinks have joined the "pink" campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and more research:

Chambord's website notes that its Pink Your Drink campaign has raised more than $50,000 in donations for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength and other patient groups.

Mike's Hard Lemonade has given $500,000 over the past two years to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, company President Phil O'Neil says. The company was inspired by the loss of an employee named Jacqueline who died after a long battle with breast cancer.

But alcohol is clearly implicated as a cause of breast cancer. USA Today discusses that connection—to imbibe or not—in another article in the same issue.

Alcohol raises complicated public health issues for women. On the one hand, moderate drinking reduces the risk of heart disease. On the other, it raises the risk of breast cancer.

That is why dietary guidelines suggest no more than one drink a day for women, with a drink defined as five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and one and a half ounces of hard liquor.

But alcohol companies using donations to pink causes as marketing? Could we expect breast cancer research sponsored by alcohol companies to focus on the relationship of alcohol to breast cancer? Is this any different than cigarette companies paying for lung cancer research?

Ethics, anyone?


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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