KFC To Prevent Breast Cancer? Are You Clucking Serious?
Posted May 03 2010 5:00am
Today, I want to take a look at a very touchy, emotionally-charged subject today: preventing breast cancer, along with how to go about funding prevention and education.
Preventing Breast Cancer
I think we all agree that preventing and treating breast cancer is a good thing. We all have moms, sisters, wives, friends, and girlfriends that we want to be as healthy as possible. As such, I think we can all agree that finding the best ways to go about keeping our loved ones healthy is the best solution, while finding effective and efficient treatments is also of high importance.
Let’s take a look at a few things that have been in the news lately.
So let’s take a look at the new KFC campaign to make a large contribution to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation. By selling pink “Buckets For The Cure,” KFC intends to:
“Help make the largest single donation to end breast cancer forever.”
And it’s drawn the ire of pretty much everyone, particularly Breast Cancer Action , a group that is working to improve knowledge about the disease.
Back to KFC…I think we should take a good deep look at the ingredients in KFC’s products. Let’s look at the ingredients for the grilled chicken, which one would presume is fairly healthy. One would be wrong. From KFC’s website:
Fresh Chicken Marinated With Salt, Sodium Phosphate, and Monosodium Glutamate. Seasoned With: Maltodextrin, Salt, Bleached Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Monosodium Glutamate, Secret Kentucky Grilled Chicken Spices, Palm Oil, Natural Flavor, Garlic Powder, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Chicken Fat, Chicken Broth, Autolyzed Yeast, Beef Powder, Rendered Beef Fat, Extractives of Turmeric, Dehydrated Carrot, Onion Powder, and Not More Than 2% Each of Calcium Silicate and Silicon Dioxide Added As Anticaking Agents.
Remember, this is the supposedly healthy stuff! In fact, very few of the foods on KFC’s menu don’t have partially hydrogenated oils (oddly, one of them is the Extra Crispy Chicken). Between the high levels of omega-6 fats ( tied to breast cancer ) in KFC’s foods and the trans fats in the partially hydrogenated fats ( also tied to breast cancer ), it’s similar to selling cigarettes to help prevent lung cancer.
Donations Are Good!
I know at least one of you is starting to steam from the ears and getting ready to unleash holy hell on me to tell me that any kind of donations are good. Don’t get me wrong. I think donating to these causes is a great thing. I think groups that help spread information and understanding about diseases and help people cope with them are great things. But I also think it’s important that we care about where the money comes from. Think back to my comment about selling cigarettes to contribute to lung cancer prevention…would you care about that?
Or, you could make a healthy meal at home and use the money you saved on eating out to make a direct donation to a cancer charity.
I’m willing to bet you can cook your own chicken at home and make a much larger donation than the 50 cents KFC is going to give to Komen and probably still save money. Just remember to not get sucked into corporate marketing when you’re thinking about how to go about donating or which companies to support. Think Before You Pink is another good resource to help you cut through the fluff.
It’s Lifestyle Choices, Not Fast Food
Now that I’ve pointed out the fact that it’s unlikely KFC is going to do one iota of anything to help solve breast cancer, let’s face another fact: KFC is a corporation and, therefore, has one primary goal…making money. We shouldn’t really expect fast food companies to help solve our problems. We have to take that burden on ourselves, individually. I don’t expect anything different out of KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or any other food manufacturer.
In fact, as a proponent of capitalism, I think for a corporation to not do what makes it the most money is a disservice to its owners (shareholders). I can’t even be mad at KFC about this. And as an even bigger proponent of personal responsibility, our own individual actions have to go to showing companies that we aren’t duped by their marketing or seemingly false shows of concern.
We have to understand that lifestyle can increase the risk of getting certain diseases. Only by recognizing that can we start to make progress. I drive past numerous fast food restaurants daily without ending up with a load of French fries in my hands. It’s all about conscious choices. Of course, there are some genetic variations and certainly there are illnesses that have nothing to do with lifestyle, but for the most part, cancer isn’t one of them. In fact, according to The Mayo Clinic :
Can healthy eating and regular exercise really contribute to breast cancer prevention? So far, the evidence says yes. What’s more, if you combine these risk-reducing habits with limiting your exposure to substances that promote the disease, you’ll benefit even more.
Do you want a shocking statistic? How about this one ?
Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a breast cancer conference said today
KFC (or any other fast food), in and of itself, is relatively harmless, so long as it’s a rare occurrence. It’s when your lifestyle revolves around highly processed foods that the damage is insurmountable. Now, we could look at what passes for healthy eating advice to see more ways to solve breast cancer and so many other diseases. The omega-6 thing is a big one…how many people have given up real fats for vegetable oils and vegetable oil-based margarines?
Still don’t believe me that the omega-6 fats are detrimental in the quantities we eat them? What women eat may affect kids, grandkids . Of course, they focus on the term “high fat” (and even throw in “bacon cheeseburger” at the end for good measure), but what they really mean is this:
The risk associated with high-fat diets, especially those high in omega-6 fatty acids….This imbalance has previously been linked to a host of health problems, including depression, infertility, heart disease and, yes, cancer.
Prevent First, Then Treat
“He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.” ~ Thomas Fuller
As with all diseases, the first and best course of action should be prevention. In the instances where it’s too late for prevention, then choosing the best treatments is paramount. That’s where I think groups like Komen come in; first, educate people on how to live to avoid specific diseases and second, help find more effective, less invasive treatments.
Of course, remember that none of what I’m writing today is truly about KFC or breast cancer. KFC just happens to be an easy target and breast cancer is their chosen cause right now. It’s not about blaming people or pointing fingers. It’s about figuring out the best way to spread the information that people need to be healthy and vibrant.
What I’m really getting at is that preventing and treating disease isn’t about expecting a corporation to handle it for us. It’s about making conscious decisions to reduce our risk, as well as taking action ourselves to help treat those that are affected. To expect a corporation to take on that job is naive.
Maybe some diseases aren’t 100% preventable, but we can and should do everything we can to reduce our risk as much as possible. As The Mayo Clinic pointed out, lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of getting any disease. And that comes from eating plenty of Real Food (and even enjoying yourself occasionally with not-so-real food), exercising, getting sun exposure to keep your vitamin D levels high, and getting plenty of sleep.
What do you think? Are we really taking the best course of action available to prevent diseases, not just breast cancer? How can we improve the ways we help people stay healthy and also how we treat those that fall ill?