Former BBC Watchdog presenter Lynn Faulds Wood has rejected an MBE, saying the honours system needs to be dragged "into the 21st Century".
The cancer campaigner said she would be a "hypocrite" to accept the award for her work on consumer safety.
She objected to the word "empire" and said the honours system was "unfair".
Faulds Wood presented Watchdog between 1985 and 1993 and was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer during her time on the programme.
She said she may be "deserving of an honour" for her work on consumer safety but could not accept it.
"I would love to have an honour if it didn't have the word 'empire' on the end of it. We don't have an empire, in my opinion," she added.
"I think honours are really important and should be given to people who have done really good stuff.
"And I've changed laws and I've helped saved a lot of people's lives, so maybe I'm deserving of an honour, but I just wouldn't accept it while we still have party donors donating huge amounts of money and getting an honour."
Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton also turned down an honour in the Queen's New Year Honours list. He refused to accept an OBE in protest "at those who remained unresponsive" to help families and survivors affected by the disaster.
He said he was also unwilling to accept "an honour tied in name to the 'British Empire'."
Faulds Wood, 68, said she would like to see an "appraisal" of the honours system, adding: "Let's drag us into the 21st Century."
The campaigner went on: "We're a very backward-looking country at the moment.
"We shouldn't have lords and ladies and sirs. We should give people honours, yes, because plenty of people deserve them, including, I hope, myself.
"But it's not a fair system."
Her nomination came after she chaired a government independent review into the UK's system for the recall of dangerous products which she fears has now been "kicked into the long grass".
She said she did not know who put her name forward for the honour, but believed it was related to her disappointment no action had been taken since the review was published in February.