08 October 2009

Beware: Some breast cancer merchandise funds animal cruelty

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the time of year when we see companies going wild with pink merchandise to raise awareness and raise money for breast cancer research.

I know some breast cancer survivors, and I appreciate the hard work that so many companies and individuals put into the annual fundraising. But this year I learned that some of that money funds cruel and counterproductive animal experimentation.

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) explains:
Many charities, such as the American Cancer Society, the National Foundation for Cancer Research, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, fund useless animal tests that drain money from relevant, effective, life-saving projects.

Humans and animals both feel pain, fear, joy, and love, but there are many physiological differences among rats, rabbits, dogs, cats, pigs, and people, and meaningful scientific conclusions cannot be drawn about one species by studying another.

Former National Cancer Institute director Dr. Richard Klausner has stated that "the history of cancer research has been the history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn't work in humans."
So, ethical issues aside, Dr. Klausner makes a very good point here from a simple, practical perspective.

The solution? According to PETA, "Compassionate, modern charities, such as the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, American Breast Cancer Foundation, The Cancer Project, and The Breast Cancer Fund, know that non-animal methods are the best way to combat cancer."

So those are some organizations that you can feel good about supporting.

To make guilt-free giving even easier, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine provides a search tool on its website through which you can find out which charities have (and have not) won their Humane Charity Seal of Approval. Then support only those charities that have earned the Seal.

It's bad enough that breast cancer patients have to suffer with the disease. There is no need to make animals suffer too, especially when animal testing has proven ineffective. It is simply a senseless and cruel waste of money -- a no-win situation all around.

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