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Is that right? Buying KFC buckets fights breast cancer?

I try to keep an open mind, but my brain is just boggled by the Buckets for the Cure partnership between KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"Help make the largest single donation to end breast cancer forever," the campaign urges. The suggestion is that KFC will donate money -- its goal is $8.5 million -- to the charity at a rate of 50 cents for every special pink bucket of chicken sold over the next month.

But bear in mind that the "F" in KFC stands for "fried." Here's a line from the National Cancer Institute's Web site:

". . .studies have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried, or barbequed meats."

Beyond that, since obesity raises breast cancer risk, it's worth looking at some numbers: According to the KFC Web site, an original-recipe fried chicken breast has 320 calories, 15 grams of total fat (including 3.5 grams of saturated fat); a thigh has 220 calories, 15 grams of total fat (4 of them saturated).

So, no, I don't think that buying fried chicken by the bucket is a good way to fight breast cancer. Even the grilled-chicken option, though less caloric and fat-laden (a breast has 190 calories, 6 grams total fat and 1.5 grams saturated fat; the thigh has 150 calories, 9 grams total fat and 2.5 grams saturated fat), still fits into that "barbequed" category noted above.

So maybe you're thinking, okay, I want to be supportive, so I'll buy the bucket and chuck the chicken. No need. The fine print at the foot of the Web page points out that "KFC restaurant operators have contributed 50 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for each Komen branded bucket purchased by the operators from April 5, 2010-May 9, 2010....Customer purchases of KFC buckets during the promotion will not directly increase the total contribution." (It's also noted that KFC has guaranteed the contribution will be at least $1million. Which really is very nice.)

Notice that the promotions are careful not to mention that any purchase is necessary. They simply say that "for every pink bucket" -- not the sale of every bucket -- fifty cents goes to Komen. So we consumers are off the hook, really.

A 10-piece bucket of KFC fried chicken (including the sides) costs about $20. If you're really interested in supporting Komen for the Cure's efforts, why not just mail them a check directly? Then take a moment to vote in today's poll!

Tweet with me and the other Local Living writers at @wposthome/local-living. And keep track of my "Me Minus 10" effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 at

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 23, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Cancer , Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness , The Business of Health , Women's Health  
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Next: How do unschoolers learn what to eat?


I know breast cancer is horrible, and it's good that it's not clouded behind euphemism anymore.

But I know several people close to me (most of whom are women) who do NOT have breast cancer. There's colon cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, malignant melanoma (in a person who rarely spent any time in the sun), and naso-pharyngeal cancer that spread to the spine. THE SPINE.

I am quite, quite tired of "cancer" meaning "breast cancer". It is no longer a death sentence (like many of the others above) because of all the publicity and promotions that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has created. There are so few generic cancer organizations out there, or if they are, they are overshadowed by this organization. Other than the ACS Relay for Life, I've seen nothing like the 3-Day walk for other specific cancers.

Recently, I had a black moment when I saw a brand of toilet paper swathed in pink with ribbons on how buying it could help "the cure". All I could think was if there was a product designed to promote bladder or colorectal cancer, well, that would be toilet paper. How breast cancer got there, I have no idea, except that it was probably good marketing.

I don't wish cancer on anyone after watching people I care about go through it. But enough with the breast cancer promotion. There are so many other cancers that are far more deadly than breast cancer and the funds pulled away by these Susan G. Komen promotions eats into research for other cancers with a significantly lower survival rate.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 23, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I'm tired by these promotions. When it was one or two things -- say, one 5K a year, one marketing push (the red dress thing for the Heart Association), pay $5 to wear jeans to work one day, etc. -- that was fine. But now you can't turn around without bumping into another cause. Every time I go to my Safeway, they ask me if I want to make a contribution to whatever the cause du jour is. Every time -- it's written right into the key pad.

The end result is that I tune it out. At best, it becomes noise -- just another ad or product placement. At worst, it P's me off -- I resent being publicly pressured/guilted into a "contribution" that is really nothing more than a tax break for Big Corporation X. Which, in turn, makes me less likely to want to participate/contribute. I'll choose my own charities and write them a check directly, thank you very much.

Posted by: laura33 | April 23, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

While I can understand what Chasmosaur1 is saying, I think that directing your disapproval towards the Susan G. Komen foundation is misguided.

The reason that it has gained so much awareness, events, and supporters is because Susan Komen's sister, Nancy, was determined to champion this cause. She had a marketing background and has worked for 25 years to make her cause visible.

The problem is not with the Susan G. Komen foundation, it is that not enough people who suffer from all the other horrible cancers make it their life's work to fight for a cure for their disease. I think there should be many more organizations just like this. I wish that there were more awareness of the other less talked about cancers. But, someone has to decide they are going to do it. Someone has to work hard to push their cause to the forefront.

I happen to be a survivor of a seldom talked about cancer. I know that my cancer will never get the press and visibility of breast cancer, mostly because it is not as common and not usually agressive. But, I could decide to champion my cause if I wanted.

If you feel that there is a cancer or other disease that everyone needs to hear about and support, then you should decide to make it happen.

Posted by: SweetieJ | April 23, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I used to actively support Susan B. Komen, and not only donated money but also walked/ran in several of their 5k races. Lately, however, I've become disenfranchised with the organization, and the idea that it would partner with KFC just confirms to me that it's now totally misguided. Any organization that truly cares about women's health (or anyone's health for that matter) would never encourage the public to eat more fast food. Sorry, SBK, you've just lost all credibility with me.

Posted by: mountainstategal | April 23, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm tired of these pronouncements that certain lifestyles/diets promote cancers. I know plenty of vegeterain/exercising/slim/emotionally viable women who breast fed for an entire year who still got breast cancer. It happens.

At the population level these things may make a difference, but for a given individual less-so. Lay off with the guilt that something the person did caused the cancer -save for smoking.

If you like KFC, and we all know that successful diets encourage moderation, not avoidance, then this is a way for you to raise awareness and encourage this gift. Buy a bucket -share it with your KFC-loving friends and don't get all wrapped up about it.

Posted by: RedBird27 | April 23, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's self-evident that curing breast cancer is a laudable goal, the Komen organization would like to attain that goal, and KFC fried chicken isn't health food. The problem with the Komen/KFC partnership should also be self-evident, but it isn't, at least not to Komen. Its website says, "KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are teaming up... to... spread educational messaging via a major national campaign which will reach thousands of communities served by nearly 5000 KFC restaurants." Does anyone doubt that their "educational messaging" will not include studies that "... have shown that an increased risk of developing... breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats." And that's the problem with this unseemly partnership. Fortunately there are trustworthy organizations, like the National Breast Cancer Foundation, with similar goals. After reading some of these comments, it's clear that educational messaging is necessary.

Posted by: morphology | April 23, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I have colorectal cancer. Although I get tired of seeing the pink ribbon campaigns, I don't begrudge SGK the attention that they get. SGK is better organized than other cancer advocacy groups. Unfortunately, few people are willing to talk about colons, colonoscopies, and colostomies.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 23, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this post, Jennifer. It is a truly offensive and harmful alliance. Breast Cancer Action's "What the Cluck?" campaign is calling out KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure on this pinkwashing partnership. Over 1,000 people from all over the country have written to them to denounce this pinkwashing. You can find the campaign here:

Posted by: BreastCancerAction | April 23, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of having commercialism being draped in advocacy, in the form of pink blenders, coolers, and buckets of chicken. SGK may find that their brand of fund-raising is beginning to alienate them. What happens when pink isn't the new black?

Posted by: MzFitz | April 23, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse


It's more the incredibly pervasive marketing tactics of the SGK foundation that bother me. Part of my job is as a marketing professional, so it's not as if I don't understand what they are doing.

Also - it's disingenuous to say anyone can start a major fund-raising organization.
Nancy Brinker (SGK's sister) was married to a wealthy man and had the time and financial independence to throw herself full-time into her cause. I don't know many people who can say that (me among them). And right now, quite honestly, my energies are towards helping one of my family members with their terminal cancer.

The fact is, the public has only so much bandwidth for diseases, disasters, et al. I can want to promote the various sorts of cancers that impact my friends and family, but as I-270Exit1 noted, not many people want to talk about (or hear about) colonoscopies. Even Katie Couric - at the peak of her America's Sweetheart phase - couldn't make it a cause. But SGK Foundation has made breast cancer a palatable cancer to discuss and support - why talk about embarrassing colorectal cancer when you can talk about breast cancer?

They seem to have far more of a marketing reach than the ACS, which I find problematic. It's made breast cancer prevention a product, not a mission.

So I guess what bothers me the most is the incredible commercialization of breast cancer. As others noted here, buying a KFC bucket of fried chicken is not a good way to honor the healthy diet that is supposed to help prevent breast cancer. Neither KFC nor the SGK Foundation thought of that.

There is such a thing as understanding your target audience and keeping your message on target. Slathering every product you can with pink ribbons isn't keeping it on target - it's oversaturating the market. Hence people like me, who are annoyed with their albeit excellent mission. They haven't learned where to stop.

This is a major mis-step on their part, especially as it's emerging at the same time as the negative publicity surrounding the "Double Down" sandwich.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 23, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

KFC has a reputation for having some of the most abusive and repugnant chicken farms in the world. It is HORRIBLE. I am NOT a vegetarian, but I do believe that we can be omnivores without torturing animals to death before we eat them.

Posted by: CAC2 | April 23, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Misguided?? More like outrageous!! Is like trying to put out a fire with a flamethrower.

Posted by: keith0854 | April 23, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

KFC treats their chickens atrociously. They are egregiously horrific in their farming practices. I am not a vegetarian, but I do believe that we can be omnivores without torturing the animals that we eat to death. I do not eat at KFC. For any reason.

Posted by: CAC2 | April 23, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I see these promo charity drives, I always wonder if the company isn't paying more to advertise it than they are donating (as has been the case in the past for several corporate efforts).

I don't eat there anyway because I'm a veggie and KFC is deplorable in so many ways, but I also generally believe in donating straight to the charity.

Posted by: sarahabc | April 23, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

It's awful, lousy chicken. The charitable group should set their sights higher.

Posted by: Spectator | April 24, 2010 4:04 AM | Report abuse

It's awful, lousy chicken. The charitable group should set their sights higher.

Posted by: Spectator | April 24, 2010 4:05 AM | Report abuse

First off, I don't eat fast food. Period.

Second, my sister died of breast cancer.

Third, if all charitable organizations could depend on private contributions that would be great. But that doesn't happen in this world.

So, if KFC is going to contribute money to a charitable organization I think it's great. I don't think this is going to bring in any customers that don't already get their dose of fried foods in any other combination of fast food restaurants so this is not going to increase cancer rates at all.

If anything, maybe one of those bucket eaters will later benefit from the same contribution they made eating it.

But the kinda of reasoning that says, fried food causes cancer; buying a bucket of food contributes to the fight against cancer therefore buying a bucket of food that contributes to the fight against cancer causes cancer is simply not logical.

Posted by: topwriter | April 24, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

You idiots need to get over yourselves. What do you eat, skinless boiled chicken?

Posted by: bendan2000 | April 24, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Laura33 and Redbird27: I agree with you. I am sick of these promotions. The Komen foundation even sponsored the Live Stock Show in Fort Worth a couple of months ago. They think they own the color pink. Someone gave a worker at the Komen foundation a pink iced donut and the Komen Founation threatened to sue! They think "pink" is a trademark.

Posted by: georgana | April 24, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I ate fried chicken with a breast cancer survivor recently. She allowed as how it was pretty tasty. (I made it, not KFC.)


Posted by: Bob-S | April 24, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

In US English usage, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke. It is not the same. Regardless, I would say the fewer animal products one eats, the better for ones health. Now, however, the National Cancer Institute says eating lots of vegetables won't reduce your risk of cancer that much. Oh well.

Yes, I agree with the criticism of promotions that require one to spend, say, a dollar to have a nickel go to a charity.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | April 24, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

At the end; KFC will look like some nice and carring company who makes millions of dollars in donations, but in fact the truth is;
They get tax credits for all donations, KFC don't care about breast cancer, all they care is marketing effect and profit from it, and what is even the worst; NO CURE FOR BREAST CANCER FROM "KFC" MILLIONS.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | April 25, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

We have come so far in breast cancer survival and quality of life increases, which is great news. A lot of this progress can be owed to SBK. They fund important research, promote awareness, create an involved and committeed community and they have very important researchers on their staff. But what made SBK to go into this collaboration with KFC is perplexing. Not only does fried food negatively impact prevention of cancers but KFC is a horrible company. See CAC2 above. I understand why SBK does these promotions--even though the companies are probably profiting more from the collaboration--it's because, when we, as consumers, see the pink ribbons we are reminded of the fight against this disease and awareness is important to help prevention and raise funds to increase research. BUT KFC...Please, anything but that.

Posted by: PublicHealthConscious | April 25, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I work in the corporate sponsorship industry. Responsible charities and causes have strict guidelines about the type of companies from which they will accept funds. Not long before I took a position at the American Diabetes Association (which I have since left) they came under fire for entering into corporate partnerships/cause marketing relationships with companies that were dissonant with their mission. As a result, they put stringent guidelines into place to guide their corporate relationships.

Komen really needs to examine potential corporate partnerships with a microscope instead of just agreeing to partner with anyone willing to color their product pink for a month. Yes, they need money to advance their mission. But accepting money by "selling out" that mission is NOT the way to go.

Posted by: JillC | April 26, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Encouraging people to eat unhealthy food as a way to help eliminate breast cancer is insane. Please join our group dedicated to ending this terribly misguided partnership that only helps KFC by lending Komen's (once) good name to their unhealthy brand. We are encouraging people to instead donate to Breast Cancer Action.

Posted by: carricraver | April 28, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Encouraging people to eat unhealthy food as a way to help eliminate breast cancer is insane. Please join our group dedicated to ending this terribly misguided partnership that only helps KFC by lending Komen's (once) good name to their unhealthy brand. We are encouraging people to instead donate to Breast Cancer Action.

Posted by: carricraver | April 28, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Encouraging people to eat unhealthy food as a way to help eliminate breast cancer is insane. Please join our group dedicated to ending this terribly misguided partnership that only helps KFC by lending Komen's (once) good name to their unhealthy brand. We are encouraging people to instead donate to Breast Cancer Action.

Posted by: carricraver | April 28, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

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