The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation made headlines this week for cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, but little attention has been given to how the breast cancer research organization itself is being funded.
That Komen receives millions of dollars in funding from various corporate sponsors is no secret, but the controversy lies within the influence these companies might be having on some of the organization's stances. In particular, Komen has consistently denied any possible link between breast cancer and the chemical compound bisphenol A (BPA), which can be found in any number of consumer products sold by its sponsors--Coca-Cola, General Mills and 3M being among them.
BPA can be found in plastic soda bottles, receipts from the grocery store, and household plumbing. Research conducted by the California Pacific Medical Center found that BPA caused healthy breast cells to grow and survive like cancer cells and inhibited the effectiveness of certain cancer-fighting drugs.
The evidence is strong and getting stronger, that BPA poses a real threat to people, said Dr. William Goodson, one of the CPMC researchers, in a press release. Up to now, industry has avoided having to prove that the chemicals they use are not harmful. This kind of data shifts the responsibility. Industry should now be told to show us that these chemicals are safe.
BPA-peddling corporations have deflected that responsibility by donating to organizations like Komen, which states on its Web site that at this time, there is no evidence to suggest a link between BPA and the risk of breast cancer.
In its three decades of operation, Komen has contributed nearly $2 billion to breast cancer research. To its credit, in 2007 it funded research by the Silent Spring Institute into environmental toxins--BPA among them--linked with breast cancer.
The information on [Komen's] Web site conflicts in various ways with the findings of the science review we conducted with Komen funding, wrote SSI executive director Julia Brody in an e-mail interview with Mother Jones.
Despite the criticism, Komen president Elizabeth Thompson has maintained that the organization's stances are not influenced by its corporate sponsors.