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The color of October used to be orange, as leaves died and pumpkins arrived on the scene. But now the color of October is pink, in the form of pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness appearing on everything from yogurt, Sharpies, football helmets, cereal and more.

It’s time to move beyond the pink from awareness to prevention. Why? Because when 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the breast cancer, how much more awareness do we need?

This October, the Breast Cancer Fund launched “Beyond the Pink,” a campaign to engage individuals and institutions to shift resources away from awareness efforts toward actions that will prevent breast cancer.

Despite decades and billions of dollars spent on breast cancer research, the number of women diagnosed with the disease continues to rise. In just a generation (since 1978) we've witnessed a 40-percent increase in breast cancer incidence

Breast cancer is a killer, the second leading cause of death for women. Erin Hyman, President of the Bay Area Young Survivors said, “Pink ribbon culture can give you the impression that no one is dying from this disease anymore, that it’s not a big deal anymore. But 13 women in my organization died in the past year…. Pink has never really been my color.”

Tackling environmental factors of breast cancer is a major priority. Recent science confirms that toxic chemical exposures have played a significant role in the increased incidence of breast cancer. Under current laws, it’s perfectly legal to add toxic chemicals – even those known to cause cancer - to products used on our bodies and in our homes, from shampoos and lotions to household cleaners and canned foods. To prevent breast cancer – and a host of other diseases as well – we must build enough political strength to get Congress to create strict laws to eliminate the use of chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm from products we use every day.

Second, consumers must continue to use the power of the purse to convince manufacturers and retailers to change the way their products are made, so that fewer dangerous chemicals are found on ingredient lists.

And finally, we must take personal responsibility for making decisions that protect our loved ones from unnecessary risks, whether by choosing safer personal care products or eating healthier foods and reducing our overall exposure to chemicals in our homes.

Breast cancer is about people. Our mothers, daughters, teachers, firefighters. The people who sit bedside, caring for loved ones. No longer do we have time to passively wear a pink ribbon and wait for a better day. We must actively prevent breast cancer by changing the course of the history of the disease. Together we can shift the conversation from awareness to prevention. When millions of us work together, we can stop breast cancer before it starts.

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