October happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. There is a chill in the air, leaves are starting to turn, and weekends are jammed packed with all types of fall festivals. October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to support those affected by the disease and to increase awareness. While I fully understand the criticisms underlying the pink ribbon, I wear it proudly not only as a reminder of just how much we are all affected by this disease, but also symbolizing my part in taking a stand for what we can DO about it. Our message of a REAL food lifestyle is one of prevention, not only for breast cancer but for ALL chronic disease. The American Cancer Society estimates 232,340 new cases of invasive and 64,640 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and over 39,620 are expected to die in 2013. While genetics play a role, there is also a link between breast cancer and environmental factors. I understand that changing where one lives and works may not be an option for most people, but what you put IN and ON your body is YOUR choice. Many of the chemicals found in our food and in our beauty products have been linked to various types of cancer and scientific findings are only increasing.
October is a month filled with irony. The irony for me is while we are recognizing breast cancer during the month of October, it is also the month when Americans consume nearly 600 million pounds of toxic, unhealthy candy. The top five annual candy sales days are in October, with over 10% occurring in the days leading up to Halloween — that is nearly $2 billion dollars in sales! With everything going on in the world today, I can think of much better uses for that $2 billion dollars. It has been reported that the average American eats 24 pounds of candy a year, and most of that is likely consumed during the Halloween season. That is 432 fun size Snickers bars or 5,443 individual Candy Corns! Speaking of Candy Corns, according to the National Confectioners Association, “more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces — enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end.” Yes you read that right, 21 times around the MOON!
Get my point? American’s consume a TON of candy in the month of October, candy that is FULL of unhealthy toxic ingredients. We are all aware of the health risks associated with it, yet we knowingly give it to our children, all in the face of 12.4% of our population diagnosed with a disease with no cure. How ironic.
I get it! Halloween is an extremely fun holiday, one we want to be able to enjoy with our entire family. But has Halloween become nothing more than our overwhelming addiction to sugar? Or is there more? Are we as a society so overindulged that it is unthinkable at this point to have a HEALTHY Halloween, one that sets our future generations up for a long and prosperous future? Take a stand and DO something about it this season, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Here are just a couple of sites filled with ideas for healthy and FUN alternatives that you can pass out this Halloween:
- Make it a Green Halloween
- 20 Ways to Do Halloween Without Candy
- 20 Candy-Free Halloween Treats that Won’t Get Your House Egged
Alternatively, involve your entire family and turn what you pass out into a fun DYI project:
And for all breast cancer fighters and survivors out there, I will be thinking of you as I proudly wear my pink ribbon this Halloween season.
We’d love to know how you’re supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month and/or how you’re celebrating a healthy Halloween season. Please share with others by commenting below.
Lauren Brinkac, founder of DC Healthy Bites, received a dual BS in Biology and Biochemistry from Syracuse University and a MS in Bioinformatics from George Mason University. She is currently a Lead Bioinformatics Analyst conducting bacterial genomics research of infectious disease at The J. Craig Venter Institute. Lauren hopes to use her scientific background and the latest in scientific research to guide others in making informed dietary choices to optimize their own personalized health. Click here to read Lauren’s Story.