Breast Cancer Action

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Breast Cancer Action
Founded 1990
Founder Elenore Pred, Susan Claymon, Linda Reyes
Headquarters 657 Mission St.
Suite 302
San Francisco, CA 94105
Key people
Karuna R. Jaggar (Executive Director)

Breast Cancer Action (BCAction) is an American grassroots education and advocacy organization supporting people living with breast cancer. It was founded in 1990 by Elenore Pred, Susan Claymon, and Linda Reyes. Based in San Francisco, BCAction is known for understanding breast cancer not as an individual crisis, but a public health emergency. BCAction is also known for its Think Before You Pink campaign, launched in 2002, which encourages consumers to ask critical questions before buying pink ribbon products.[1]

BCAction criticizes National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as Breast Cancer Industry Month, because some corporate sponsors benefit financially from increased screening for breast cancer, or produce carcinogenic chemicals.[citation needed]


Breast Cancer Action began in 1990 when Elenore Pred, who had metastatic breast cancer, became frustrated with the lack of information and hard data about the causes and treatments of her condition. Along with other women also suffering from metastatic breast cancer, she founded Breast Cancer Action to be an organization of breast cancer survivors and their supporters.

In 1995 Barbara Brenner became the organization's first executive director, a position she held until 2010 when she retired due to non-breast cancer-related health issues.[2] She was significant in increasing the organization's membership from 3500 to 50,000, and increasing its emphasis on environmental issues and social critiques of the use of breast cancer activism.[2]

Since Pred's death in October 1991, BCAction has continued as an advocacy group dedicated to breast cancer activism at local, state and federal levels. The organization sees breast cancer not as an individual issue but a "national public health emergency." Their work has included an emphasis on more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments that keep the needs of the public interest first; decreasing involuntary environmental exposures that put people at increased risk for breast cancer; and creating awareness that not only genes but also social injustices like political, economic, and racial inequities can lead to imbalances in outcomes of the disease.[3]


BCAction advocates for policy changes in three priority areas:

  • Treatment improvements, by shifting the balance of power at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration away from the pharmaceutical industry and towards the public interest while advocating for more effective and less toxic treatments.
  • Environmental integrity, by decreasing involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer.
  • Inequities by creating awareness that it is not just genes, but social injustices - political, economic, and racial inequities - that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes.[citation needed]

It also provides information and "organizes people to do something besides worry".[citation needed]

It supports structural changes to society as a means of stopping breast cancer.[citation needed]


Some achievements include:

  • A two year awareness campaign raised funding that helped enact the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005,[4] signed by California state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The group considers this is a considerable achievement for the environmental breast cancer movement because toxic chemicals in cosmetics can potentially be an environmental cause of breast cancer.[5]
  • In 2009, awareness efforts including Yoplait's "Put a Lid on it" campaign which influenced General Mills and Dannon to remove [6] recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) from their dairy products. rBST has not been allowed on the market in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and all European Union countries (currently numbering 27), by 2000 or earlier. In the United States, public opinion has caused a number of products and retailers to become rBST-free.[7]
  • In 2011, Breast Cancer Action joined with Pesticide Action Network in leading awareness efforts that resulted in the pesticide methyl iodide being removed from the California market. The use of methyl iodide as a fumigant has drawn concern. For example, 54 chemists and physicians contacted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a letter, saying "We are skeptical of U.S. EPA’s conclusion that the high levels of exposure to methyl iodide that are likely to result from broadcast applications are “acceptable” risks. U.S. EPA has made many assumptions about toxicology and exposure in the risk assessment that have not been examined by independent scientific peer reviewers for adequacy or accuracy. Additionally, none of U.S. EPA’s calculations account for the extra vulnerability of the unborn fetus and children to toxic insults." [8] A lawsuit was filed in 2011 challenging California's approval of methyl iodide. Subsequently, the manufacturer withdrew the fumigant and requested that California Department of Pesticide Regulation cancel its California registration, citing its lack of market viability.[9]


  1. ^ Levine, Daniel S. (2005-09-30). "Breast cancer group questions value of pink ribbon campaigns". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  2. ^ a b Denise Grady, "Barbara Brenner, Breast Cancer Iconoclast, Dies at 61" (obituary), New York Times, May 20, 2013.
  3. ^ "History". Breast Cancer Action. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  4. ^ History & Accomplishments 2013, History.
  5. ^ Farmer 2005, Press Release.
  6. ^ Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST) 2013, Article.
  7. ^ "Safeway milk free of bovine hormone". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  8. ^ Keim, Brandon (1 October 2007). "Scientists Stop EPA From Pushing Toxic Pesticide". Wired. 
  9. ^ Maker of methyl iodide scraps controversial pesticide - San Jose Mercury News

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