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Buy pink to help fight breast cancer

October 04, 2009|Whitney Friedlander

Happy National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Wait, what? The Breast Cancer Research Foundation says that 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected in women in the United States by New Year's, and yet we should be in good spirits during October, when organizations struggle to raise awareness and funds to battle the disease?

Well, yes. Otherwise, the cancer wins. "[Women] should be celebrated as people work together to end this thing," says "Dollhouse's" Eliza Dushku, who hosted the eighth annual Fashion for the Cure runway event, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in late September.

The event served as a lead-in of sorts to the 25th annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which began Oct. 1. For the rest of the month, organizations dedicated to helping prevent and cure the disease will be going all out to raise awareness and funds. You're not imagining it if you feel surrounded by pink.

The annual observance was started in part by the American Academy of Family Physicians, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca's HealthCare Foundation and nonprofit CancerCare Inc. Nonprofit Susan G. Komen for the Cure linked breast cancer awareness to the color pink in 1982, when the first Komen Race for the Cure logo design was an abstract female runner outlined with a pink ribbon. The idea really took off in 1992 when, while working on Self magazine's second Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue, editor in chief Alexandra Penney created a ribbon and worked with cosmetics companies such as Estee Lauder to distribute them in New York City stores.

Over the years, all kinds of companies and products have jumped on the bandwagon, and this year you can buy anything from the mundane (a Swiffer) to the sublime (a Van Cleef & Arpels pendant) in pink, with part of the proceeds going to fight the disease.

But does buying pink really make a difference? To get an idea of the month's impact, consider that the nonprofit support organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer earned a third of its annual budget through last October's events and product promotions.

So this is a month when you can do good just by looking good. Buy any of the numerous beauty products, clothing and accessories whose proceeds are earmarked for a breast cancer organization and you're putting your shopping dollars to work.

Go ahead and argue that it's a gimmick or marketing strategy, but Dushku points out that every little bit of support helps.

For a list of some of the "pink" products you might add to your shopping list, go to latimes.com/pink.

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whitney.friedlander@latimes.com

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