Tag Archives: Komen

Komen’s funding of research drops; writer looks at charity’s message vs. science

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Amid the controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s changes in funding for Planned Parenthood, Reuters’ reporters Sharon Begley and Janet Roberts took a look at the organization’s financial statements.

Their analysis shows that the charity has “cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on grants to scientists working to understand the causes and develop effective new treatments for the disease.”

In 2008, it spent 29 percent of its donations on research awards. In 2011, that number was down to 15 percent.

Reuters reports that, according to the 2011 financial statement, “43 percent of donations were spent on education, 18 percent on fund-raising and administration, 15 percent on research awards and grants, 12 percent on screening and 5 percent on treatment.”

Meanwhile, AHCJ member and independent journalist Christie Aschwanden writes that the real scandal lies with the organization’s “science denialism.” She says it has perpetuated the “notion that breast cancer is a uniformly progressive disease that starts small and only grows and spreads if you don’t stop it in time” – breast cancer’s false narrative.

Aschwanden points out that Komen’s insistence that women be “screened now” and that early detection saves lives, as proclaimed in its ads, “flies in the face of basic cancer biology” as well as places blame on people who have metastatic breast cancer. The piece is well worth a read, especially to find out what Komen’s own chief scientific adviser says about the organization’s message.

And, for a re-cap of the Komen saga, ProPublica has put together a handy timeline of Komen’s “Shifting Story on Planned Parenthood.”