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Olivia, I honestly love you, but you’re making it difficult

Olivia, I honestly love you, but you’re making it very difficult.

There’s no denying that the English born Aussie icon, Olivia Newton-John is one of world’s best-selling artists of all time.

But her latest business venture, flogging wine in the name of cancer treatment and research, is a misguided enterprise.

Last year Newton-John launched her own brand of wine: Pink and Blue for Two.

The wine takes its name from a campaign founded by her nephew Emerson Newton-John that aims to combat breast and prostate cancer by encouraging couples to proactively encourage each other to attend annual screenings.

Ten per cent of the proceeds from the sale of the wine go to Pink and Blue for Two, with a further ten percent going to Newton-John’s own cancer foundation.

Not for minute do I doubt Newton-John’s sincerity or motivation.

Her generous commitment to many humanitarian causes, her tireless advocacy and her dedication to cancer treatment and research, not to mention her own private battle with breast cancer is well known, respected and acknowledged.

If anything, Newton-John’s impressive record in this area, makes her wine venture all the more puzzling.

Because selling wine to raise money for cancer research makes no more sense than selling cigarettes.

Why promote and sell the very product that’s causing the harm you’re trying so hard to prevent?

The links between alcohol and cancers, including both prostate and breast cancer, are very well established.

And a new Harvard study published in the British Medical Journal just last week found that a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases by 13 per cent if she consumes just one drink a day.

In Australia alcohol kills 5,554 Australians a year. In men, one in four of those alcohol-related deaths is caused by cancer, for women it’s almost one in three (31 per cent).

Unwittingly or otherwise, Newton-John isn’t alone in marketing a harmful product off the back of their concern about breast cancer.

So much so there’s even a name for it.

US based Breast Cancer Action coined the term ‘pinkwashing, and came up with a list of questions to ask before buying a ‘pink’ branded product, including: “Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breastcancer?”.

Unfortunately for Olivia, the answer is a resounding yes!

Newton-John would do well to remember a fundamental principle taught to healthcare students around the world – first do no harm.

In flogging wine to raise money for cancer research and treatment, Ms Newton-John risks causing more harm than good.

Michael Thorn

Michael was was Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) from January 2011 until November 2019


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