Susan G. Komen Partners With Fracking Firm, Despite Possible Cancer Links

10/08/2014 04:42 pm ET | Updated Oct 09, 2014
Helen H. Richardson via Getty Images

The breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure has entered into a year-long partnership with a major oil field services company, the blog Fuel Fix reported Wednesday.

The Houston-based company Baker Hughes is selling 1,000 pink-painted drill bits as a “reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening and education to help find the cures for this disease," and will donate $100,000 to Komen. The company's website also urges visitors to "Do your bit to support Komen by making a donation today." The company is involved in hydraulic fracturing operations, a controversial process used to tap into oil and gas reserves.

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An article in the the International Business Times noted the irony of this partnership, as some research has found links between cancer and the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, often called "fracking." Fracking operations have been found to use carcinogenic chemicals, and some studies have found increased cancer rates in areas of oil and gas development.

The advocacy group Breast Cancer Action said in a statement that the drill bit was the "most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t" they’ve seen all year. “With all the toxic chemicals Baker Hughes is pumping into the ground, we thought they didn’t care about women’s health," said Karuna Jaggar, Breast Cancer Action's executive director. "However, this partnership with Komen makes it clear where both organizations stand on this issue."

A spokeswoman for the Komen Foundation told the International Business Times that "the evidence to this point does not establish a connection between fracking and breast cancer."

Komen made headlines in 2012 when it tried to sever ties with Planned Parenthood, which uses Komen funds to provide breast cancer screenings to low-income women. The decision was driven by Karen Handel, the organization's then Vice President, who opposes abortion rights.

The group has since been accused of helping to "pinkwash" controversial organizations by teaming up with them to promote breast cancer awareness.

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