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Breast Cancer Awareness Alcohol Promos: A Faux Pas or Not?

October 8, 2010 By: Donna Hood Crecca

Can you say caught in a quandary? The day after USA Today ran a story about breast cancer groups criticizing alcohol marketers for hosting programs related to breast cancer awareness month, we at NCB published a story about the various bar and nightclub promotions going on around the country this month to raise awareness of and funds for breast cancer prevention and research. Hmmm…this is a tough one.

Here’s the skinny: Current research does show that even moderate consumption of alcohol can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. By how much depends on multiple factors, including family history and other health-related habits.

Here’s what I know: Marketers of alcohol products and operators of bars and nightclubs would not want to increase anyone’s risk of cancer. What they want to do through these programs is increase the public’s awareness and understanding of breast cancer – what it is, who it affects and how women can help themselves reduce their risk of it and cope with a diagnosis and treatment – and also raise dollars to support breast cancer research, screening and patients. Many of the people behind the promotions going on in bars and clubs have been personally touched by the disease; some are actually honoring affected women by hosting these programs. No doubt, for some bar and club owners and managers, their jobs in this industry have helped support loved ones through their battles.

Alcohol promotions have raised considerable funds for breast cancer organizations. Would the advocacy groups prefer to not have those dollars on principle? Or would they rather the brand marketers and bar and club operators simply write a big check and forego the promotional programming? Wouldn’t that money be tainted?

I don’t think our industry meant to offend. We just meant to help. And as more information comes out about linkages between what we all consume and our individual risks for different diseases, I have faith people will make the right decisions about what they eat and drink.

But what do you think? Should this industry continue to run programs to raise awareness and dollars for breast cancer? E-mail me or post a comment. This is a quandary, indeed.


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