General Question

Aster's avatar

Where are the pink ribbons for the female victims of heart disease?

Asked by Aster (18756points) November 17th, 2010

Why no Pink Ribbon campaign for women and heart disease? Barbra Streisand has started an organization strictly for women with heart disease due to her knowledge that it kills more women than all other cancers combined. So why is the Medical community concentrating much more on breast cancer? Don’t we need more funds for heart disease?

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25 Answers

Sarcasm's avatar

She is correct. US, Worldwide (Worldwide is the last one on the page). (also, you can see a breakdown of the cancer incidents here

As for “why?”? I have no idea. It’s a shame. These are seriously just thoughts following, I don’t know about any of these and don’t even know where to find the answers to them.
It may lay somewhere in the difference of difficulty in treating the two. Or may be due to the difference in numbers of those who get cancer/heart disease (as opposed to those who die from it). It may be because years ago, before curing cancer became “sexy” that it actually did kill more people than heart disease.

jca's avatar

I had heard this is true. The problem is the pink ribbon is on everything, so they obviously have a big promo budget for breast cancer. The President of the Susan G. Koman Foundation makes $531,924 per year (source: Charitynavigator.org). I will not donate to an organization where the president makes half a million dollars a year.

iamthemob's avatar

The Purple Ribbon Campaign is already in effect for heart disease in women.

The problem, however, is that heart disease affects men and women. Breast cancer does as well…but of course it is not nearly as universal. So it’s difficult to discuss something that has multiple causes (as heart disease does – biological, genetic, environmental and behavioral) as well as affecting multiple populations in terms of one of those populations without it seeming both privileged as well as in a manner that makes people wonder why they should donate when there are causes that affect women specifically.

Ironically, of course, awareness of the level of harm caused by heart disease in women is exactly what does need to be increased. The fact that the awareness needs to be raised is both the problem (that it’s not differentiated) and the cause of the problem (that it’s difficult to differentiate it).

tigress3681's avatar

The American Heart Association has a Go Red for women campain, no ribbons, but they did hand out red dress pins with a tiny little pink heart… http://www.goredforwomen.org/

@iamthemob it’s funny that you mention all the risk factors for heart disease and recognize that there are many causes. Pretty much, all those causes are also associated with different types of cancer. Personally I get annoyed when people talk about curing cancer or curing breast cancer when 1 we already have cures for some types and 2 all cancers are different, some similarities yes, but different nonetheless; a single pill to cure all cancers and similarly all heart disease is just not realistic. I hope most people don’t think a single pill will solve the world’s ails but talking to some people I get the impression many do.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t see how the multiple causes matter? I just think Komen did a really incredible grass roots effort, and now the pink ribbon has a life of its’ own. And, treatment for breast cancer is very radical. The chemos used, when used, wreak havoc on a women’s body and she loses all of her hair. It is a very visible treatment. And mastectomy is disfiguring, and obviously traumatic. I think treatments for heart disease can be sort of covered up more easily, or living with heart disease is less visible to the public. Also, cancer tends to be more dragged out treatment and/or dying process. For these reasons I think people fear cancer more, and are more aware of it.

iamthemob's avatar

The multiple causes matter only in the sense that people often associate heart disease more with behavioral causes rather than genetic ones – as is the case with certain types of cancer.

For instance, when I hear “heart disease” I can’t help but think “poor, fatty diet choices” as I think “smoker” when I hear “lung cancer.”

This assumed level of personal responsibility is why heart disease can be more difficult to “market” (I hate using that word – but it’s apt for a discussion about fundraising) than breast cancer, which people more often associate with genetic predisposition.

That’s the only reason why I think it’s a factor. I think that it shouldn’t be, but I’m talking only with relevance to the fundraising/marketing arena.

Aster's avatar

If the Komen pres makes over half a mil, how much does Susan Komen’s sister make? She isn’t the President, is she? She was on Oprah and when a guest began speaking of dietary suggestions and changes I swear she interrupted her. hmm Then everyone clapped. She barged in with, “we have to stop this disease!!” when the guest was attempting to discuss just that . And she didn’t get to finish her sentence.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob I see. So you think the public is less sympathetic if they think it is the individuals own fault. That makes sense. I would argue genetics plays a big role in heart disease, and we seem to be discovering breast cancer is affected by a persons health habits (excluding BRAC positive people) not to mention many lung cancers are non-smoker lung cancer. But, those facts probably don’t matter much, the perception does. So I agree with you.

iamthemob's avatar

@JLeslie – yeah, it’s one of the unfortunate outgrowths of a “personal accountability” frame of mind. Personal accountability is an important factor to consider in social issues – but it’s too often relied on as a “first resort” defense against providing help to people rather than something taken into account along with multiple other factors.

Aster's avatar

Nancy Brinker is Komen’s sister who was on Oprah and interrupted the dietician.

jca's avatar

@Aster : she probably didn’t want to put out the suggestion that the disease is due to dietary issues. When I hear stuff like that, it makes me wish the host (in this case Oprah) would stick up for the guest who got cut off and say “Can you repeat that?”

Aster's avatar

@jca I would have really appreciated Oprah if she had asked for her to repeat. GA

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Some diseases get backing and others, not so much. I do not agree that the medical community pays less attention to heart disease than it does to cancer – Komen is not ‘the medical community’.

Aster's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Who urges us to get an EKG? We are told to get mammograms all the time . We are told to do breast self-exams. Who tells us to do that? I know it isn’t Komen so you tell us who it is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster Actually, I don’t think doctors urge mammograms all that much and especially not self-breast exams. EKGs, imo, aren’t the first thing we need to do (I’m thinking frequent blood pressure checks and blood tests) – heart disease is slow building, you can’t just feel a lump in your heart and know that you’ve got a problem. I think there is emphasis, at least in the public health world, on both cancer and heart disease – I sat in the room full of oncologists today and all the talked about was how serious heart disease was, rather than cancer.

Aster's avatar

ok. “Society” urges mammograms a lot. They even have vehicles that drive around offering them. I have a lot of friends who “get their’s” once a year. You know all this.
I’m glad your oncologists , at least, are informed that heart disease is the big killer.

jca's avatar

my gyn urges a mammogram every year and gives me a prescription without my asking (just sayin’).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster I think cancer (wrongfully, imo) is looked on as something that just happens to you whereas heart disease is looked upon (like obesity) as something a person did to themselves, in a way (through bad nutrition and lifestyle choices, genetics nonwithstanding) – people don’t want to get behind heart disease because it’s more common, because it’ll shine the light on them for their terrible choices – breast cancer still has an emotional pull on people because people think it’s not about their nutrition or lifestyle choices but about bad luck.
@jca – my mom’s and grandma’s docs don’t.

Aster's avatar

From what I’ve been told, “someone” tells the public that breast cancer is not due to genetics. So then I have to look at victims of bc and determine what percentage of them have a family history of bc. I find there is a family history of bc or at least of cancer in general in people who I know have had it. I speak in past tense since survivors are very few in my experience with the exception of the women who have opted to discontinue standard “slash and burn” treatment. Those women , including an 86 year old, are still with us.

jca's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir : I don’t know where your relatives are from, but maybe it has to do with a more affluent area may have doctors that encourage empowerment and advocacy for more proactive healthcare?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jca They go to old Russian providers who have zero interest in prevention.

jca's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir : that illustrates my point. I think most modern gyn and regular doctors probably push mammograms.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir @jca @aster I think it has more to with the media, medical costs, and diagnostic tools. I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir when she says heart disease is different than breast cancer. First, an EKG does not address arteries getting clogged around the heart or clotting blood that can cause a heart attack, the EKG will show nothing. Of course there are times when EKG or echo is important for heart arythmias and weak valves, but the incidious building over time of developing heart disease is sort of monitored by blood tests for cholesterol and blood pressure checks, which I think are done regularly for most people, but those don’t really see what is going on inside of the heart or arteries. To get a clear picture you have to go through a medical procedure like an angiogram, although now there is the capability of getting a heart CT, I am not sure what that shows, it is a lot of xrays, and you have to slow the heart to do it. For breast cancer we can snap 4 xrays and do a non-invasive ultrasound or MRI, before cutting into the breast.

I think breast cancer awareness came about during a time of womens rights being a big deal in America, that we are overlooked in our marriages, career, and our health, and the timing was very good for it to get a lot of attention.

And about the media, the average population just knows what the media is talking about.

JLeslie's avatar

By the way I have a red dress pin. My family all have dropped dead from heart disease, some in their 30’s and 40’s.

donman's avatar

well the pink ribbon isn’t a disease it is actually something that treis to fight disieses but gives up then it attacks your heart

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