Everything these days seems to be focused on raising awareness about something. Autism, mesothelioma, global warming, saving the whales… we’re constantly bombarded with so-called “consciousness campaigns.” These campaigns are designed to grab our attention and direct it towards a particular cause. A cause which we’re apparently supposed to just acknowledge while handing over our money. Not to make light of some of the more pressing issues of our day, raising awareness can and does have its place. If all those billboards warning about the dangers of second-hand smoke never existed, for instance, many more parents might still be smoking cigarettes in front of their children. Hence awareness of second-hand smoke may be credited with reducing risk of lung disease and cancer. In other words, not all awareness initiatives are inherently bad. The problem lies in what these campaigns often fail to address, particularly when disease is involved: prevention. Perhaps you didn’t even realize that February has been designated as National Cancer Prevention Month. This is because most of the major cancer foundations have chosen to focus on awareness instead of prevention.

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