Pink vs. Blue

Before I begin, let’s all take a deep breath.

Okay, are you ready?

Let me start by saying that I’m glad so many people are active in raising awareness of diseases. This tends to happen when someone we know is afflicted with the disease, so it’s natural. Runs/walks for the cure for ________ are great.

There is, however, one aspect of this increased visibility of disease that bothers me, and that’s the trendiness of certain causes. The best example of this is breast cancer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Breast cancer is a horrible disease, and it kills a lot of women (around 25,000 in the U.S. in 2004, which is the most recent statistic I could find). I would be overjoyed to hear there is a 100% effective treatment for it. But you know what killed 25,000 men in the U.S. in 2004? Prostate cancer.

Here’s a fun experiment. Go to your local grocery store and count the number of pink ribbons you see on products. Then count the number of blue ribbons you see.

A comparative search using shows 44,000,000 hits for the term “breast cancer” vs. just under 12,000,000 for “prostate cancer.”

Now, before someone runs me down in the street, I will cheerfully acknowledge the many double standards in society which favor men, including comparative earnings, entertainment focus, and the availability of clothing with pockets (seriously, that’s worth a ton right there). So I guess I can’t really justify my opinion on the cancer awareness issue, but it does bother me. The end.


Jer said…
you know better than to get me engaged in a conversation about double standards....
Jen said…
Yeah, I'm not sure if it's a "trendiness" issue or a gender issue. Rather, maybe there's just been more success increasing awareness of breast cancer which I can't really find much fault with. I'm not sure anyone's saying breast cancer beats prostate cancer. Maybe you should be a prostate cancer awareness advocate, Joel.
Heidi Bell said…
I think it is simple. Everyone likes boobs. Nobody likes.... well... prostates. Racy I know. But true. Girls want to keep their breasts, guys want their wives to keep their breasts. Nobody wants to talk about prostates, and what entails a prostate exam.
Joel said…
Heidi, it's entirely possible that you have expressed the most profound truth yet on this blog. I would expect no less, given your nickname...
Lizzy said…
Query: How many cases of breast cancer are terminal versus cases of terminal prostate cancer?

My reason for asking. My FIL was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years back. We in the family we told not to worry that these days that nearly all cases caught in early to mid mid stages are curable. So no one worried. He under went a little radiation. And goes for periodic check ups. However my MIL has Liver Cancer and is terminal. It's just a matter of time and no one has an answer of how much time that is.
Plus a little radiation vs parts of your body hacked off, permanently scarred, and a huge part of your body image.
Jer said…
Stats from the National Cancer Institute (

Estimated new cases and deaths from prostate cancer in the United States in 2008:
New cases: 186,320
Deaths: 28,660

Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2008:
New cases: 182,460(female); 1,990 (male)
Deaths: 40,480 (female); 450 (male)

crap.. we lose. And Men get both!
Joel said…
That's interesting, Jer, because just this morning I was trying to remember if I had read somewhere that men could get breast cancer too. But I'm glad you found some more updated (if conjectural) statistics. I imagine the numbers would need to be adjusted a tiny bit to get a clear picture, because there are slightly more women in the population (but it's something like 51% to 49%, I think, so it's not a big deal and I'm too lazy to look it up).
The Kyles said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said…
Thanks, Amy. For a while there, I thought I was losing my ability to get people riled up.
The Kyles said…
Prostate cancer is 100% curable when caught in its early stages. 90% of all cases are caught in the early stages. Breast cancer is deadly because the breast is a few millimeters away from one of the biggest lymph nodes in the body. Breast cancer frequently spreads to these lymph nodes making this a very dangerous and deadly disease. My Dad recovered from prostate cancer two years ago after two bouts of radiation. My neighbor under went a year of chemo and radiation and succumbed to the disease after a very long and painful illness. And that would be me chasing you down the street.

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