Marketeer's dream: Sienna Miller poses for the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign

I would have quite liked to have been at the pitching meeting. "I'm thinking cancer. I'm thinking boobs. I'm thinking sexy. I'm thinking bunnies." No, no, I haven't lost my mind, I'm just referring to the breast cancer awareness bash the Dublin nightclub Lillies Bordello threw on Friday night which had, wait for it, a Playboy theme. The party was advertised with models dressed in bunny outfits and a footnote about raising money for breast cancer.

On what planet is it appropriate to link breast cancer awareness to a sexist and derogatory media empire that has made billions out of the everlasting fact that men like looking at big boobs? You'd wonder if Lillies Bordello was also thinking about drafting in Puppetry of the Penis for a prostate cancer drive, or a strobe light party for an epilepsy foundation. What two worse things to link: the sexist giant fake boob industry, and a horrific disease and killer of women (and men) that often sees their breasts removed. Excuse me while I loan the organisers some embarrassment by hiding my head in my hands. And yet the sexualisation of breast cancer isn't a new thing.

Breast cancer as a cause is easy to sell. It's seen by marketeers as sexy. There rarely seems to be a breast cancer campaign that doesn't feature some celebrity in a fuzzy black and white picture clutching a sheet coyly to their chest, or wearing a flattering white tank top. Or empowered women with their hands draped over each other's shoulders and their tits dominant in solidarity. Breast cancer is illustrated with hyper femininity, and years of its sexualisation leads us to a Friday night in a nightclub in Dublin where Playboy-bunnied women bounce around the place in the name of sexy cancer.

Breast cancer is a marketeer's dream disease. It occupies an elite space by having its own recognisable ribbon, which was created and commercialised by the cosmetics company Estée Lauder in the early '90s. Only the red HIV/Aids awareness red ribbon is more famous. Much like the red ribbon, the pink ribbon becomes an accessory. One wonders what purpose these ribbons actually serve. What are you saying by wearing it? I don't like when people get breast cancer? Its monetary value is so little yet its impact is so right-on that it's almost immune to criticism. Much like Lance Armstrong's 'Livestrong' yellow silicone wristbands that became a remarkable global fashion item to the point of being bootlegged, it's funny how many people will only vocalise their support for cancer research when it's trendy. This brand of slacktivism can actually be quite damaging to a campaign. It is passive and gives the wearer of the ribbon or bracelet a feel-good vibe that absolves them from having to do anything else to aid a cause. Wearing a ribbon is the '90s version of joining a Facebook group, a largely ineffective personal measure that does little to benefit the cause in question but gets the individual off the hook because, hey, at least they're doing something – even if it won't make a difference. That said, although there were two problem­s with the Livestrong bracelets – they were remarkably similar to the 'Do Not Resuscitate' bands used in American hospitals, and eBay's refusal to ban their sale and resale without any of the profits going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation – Nike have sold 70 million units, that's $70m for cancer research, trendy or not.

Companies have also been remarkably smart about utilising breast cancer for that very modern phenomenon of campaigning as consumption. In the same vein as Bono's struggling Red campaign to fight HIV/Aids in Africa encourages you to buy red Converse or a red American Express card, a bit of which will go to the fund, breast cancer has endless product tie-ins. Pink, girly, tie-ins, but tie-ins nonetheless. Breast cancer supporting lipstick, limited edition t-shirts by various designers, bags, bottled water, bras, nail polish, perfumes, even pink hammers and powercords. The message is clear, consume to campaign, or as Oprah put it "shop for the cure".

Having been influenced by years of high-profile breast cancer campaigning, I'm sure most people think it's the biggest killer of women, or one of. But more women die from heart disease in Ireland than all cancers combined, so why do we hear so little about that? Not sexy enough?

One thing campaigns have done is raise awareness. Everyone knows about breast cancer and its dangers. More awareness means earlier intervention. And earlier intervention means less deaths, and obviously, that's something to be incredibly grateful for. Breast cancer survivors, and relatives and friends of survivors who campaign are brave people. But it's a pity a disease had to be sexualised before people gave it due attention.