Experts warn not all pink ribbon products benefit breast cancer

Experts warn not all pink ribbon products benefit breast cancer

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In October, the shelves are stocked full of pink products supporting breast cancer awareness.

But do all of these products benefit the cause?

"There are so many companies that have become involved in what we call 'pink washing,'" said Jane Brannon, executive director of Susan G. Komen For The Cure of Knoxville. 

Hundreds of companies team up with charities to spread awareness of breast cancer but experts said consumers need to be cautious of businesses looking to profit off the pink brand.

Millions of dollars are raised each year from products benefiting charities, like Susan G. Komen For the Cure and City of Hope, but just because a product is pink does not mean the money is going toward that specific cause.

Where they do not designate or make known the amount of those donations, they don't make known where those moneys or the percentage that is being given towards research," Brannon said.  "Frankly, there are companies out there that have no intentions of giving to the breast cancer research effort."

Brannon is also a breast cancer survivor and said "pink washing" is all too common.

"Through the years I have been offended," she said. "I know many, many people who have had breast cancer or are traveling through the breast cancer journey, that are offended by the 'pink washers' and the people that just jump on the bandwagon."

There are steps consumers can take in order to ensure their money is going to breast cancer charities, according to the Better Business Bureau.

"Anyone can make a pink ribbon and sell them but again you need to see what the cause is for," said Jerry Tipton, president of the Knoxville Better Business Bureau said. "Before you buy them, you need to check with the charity to see if they are sponsoring those."

Consumers can check whether a charity is legitimate at the BBB web site.

Tipton said the key is looking at the fine print. Most products will say what charity the product will fund and what percentage of the product will go towards the cause.

Brannon said doing research will ensure the pink ribbon continues to help fight breast cancer.

"It really is important to think before you pink," Brannon said. "Look to see what the opportunity is, see where it's going and then make a really good consumer choice."

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