New York University Professor Marion Nestle has commented on an October 5, 2010, USA Today article that highlights the efforts of alcoholic beverage manufacturers to make financial contributions to breast cancer research efforts. According to USA Today, “Both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute say even moderate drinking increases breast cancer risk,” but some companies have reportedly started “pink” product campaigns to raise money for research.
The purported conflict of interest has led the Breast Cancer Network for Strength and other advocacy groups to consider refusing donations tied to alcohol sales. USA Today cites Dwight Burlingame, associate executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, as saying that “cause-related marketing is not about charity,” but rather serves as a product promotion. At least one beverage manufacturer, however, has disputed that interpretation, noting that its campaign honors an employee who lost her life to breast cancer and that its efforts have raised $500,000 over the past two years for research.
Meanwhile, Nestle has lambasted the practice as little more than a marketing ploy. “Could we expect breast cancer research sponsored by alcohol companies to focus on the relationship of alcohol to breast cancer? Is this any different than cigarette companies paying for lung cancer research?,” opines Nestle in an October 6, 2010, Food Politics blog post, which was reprinted on The Atlantic’s Website.