Breast Cancer & Mammogram Failure
The Breast Cancer Screening Mistake Millions Make
– By jmercola – Created 10/20/2010 – 6:30am
Mammograms are often touted as a “life-saving” form of cancer screening, responsible for reducing breast cancer death rates by 15-25 percent. But this reported benefit is based on outdated studies done decades ago …
The New England Journal of Medicine is one of the most prestigious medical journals and it has now published the first recent study to look at the effectiveness of mammograms in years, and their findings are a far cry from what most public health officials and physicians would have you believe.
A Close to ZERO Percent Benefit …
In the latest study, researchers analyzed data from over 40,000 Norwegian women with breast cancer and found that those who had mammograms and were treated by special breast cancer medical teams had a 10 percent lower breast cancer death rate than women who had neither.
However, they also found that women over the age of 70 who were treated by the special teams had an 8 percent lower death risk from breast cancer, even though they had not received mammograms.
What this suggests, and what Dr. H. Gilbert Welch wrote in an accompanying editorial, is that mammograms may have only reduced the cancer death rate by 2 percent — an amount so small it may as well be zero.
So the fact remains that there is no solid evidence that mammograms save lives. Past research has also demonstrated that adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone.
Now, if mammograms were completely safe and capable of reducing your cancer death risk even a small amount, you might be able to make an argument for their use. But mammograms are not only ineffective … they’re unsafe as well.
The Dangers of Mammography: Ionizing Radiation
The first problem with mammograms is that they use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer. Mammograms expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray, which we know poses a cancer risk.
Mammography also compresses your breasts tightly, which could lead to a dangerous spread of cancerous cells, should they exist. Dr. Charles B. Simone, a former clinical associate in immunology and pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute, said: “Mammograms increase the risk for developing breast cancer and raise the risk of spreading or metastasizing an existing growth.” Dr. Samuel Epstein, one of the top cancer experts, similarly stated:
“The premenopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, each 1 rad exposure increasing breast cancer risk by about 1 percent, with a cumulative 10 percent increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening.”
False Positives are Alarmingly Common
The second glaring problem with mammography is its unacceptably high rate of false positives.
If a mammogram detects an abnormal spot in a woman’s breast, the next step is typically a biopsy. This involves taking a small amount of tissue from the breast, which is then looked at by a pathologist under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.
The problem is that early stage cancer like ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S., can be very hard to diagnose, and pathologists have a wide range of experience and expertise. There are no diagnostic standards for D.C.I.S., and there are no requirements that the pathologists doing the readings have specialized expertise.
Dr. Shahla Masood, the head of pathology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, told the New York Times:
“There are studies that show that diagnosing these borderline breast lesions occasionally comes down to the flip of a coin.”
Of course, upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, most women are afraid and even frantic to do whatever it takes to fight and remove the cancer. In the conventional medical arena, typically this means full or partial mastectomy, drugs and radiation. Imagine going through surgery, having one or both of your breasts removed along with receiving debilitating radiation treatments and toxic drugs, only to later be told that you never had cancer.
This scenario happens more often than you might think, and you can read about several women’s terrifying ordeals with false breast cancer diagnoses here.
How Often do Mammograms Lead to False Positive Diagnoses?
Estimates suggest that 17 percent of D.C.I.S. cases found through needle biopsy (often the next step after a mammogram detects a mass) are misdiagnosed. The New York Times also reported on several other concerning findings about the frequency of misdiagnosis:
A 2006 study by Susan G. Komen for the Cure estimated that in 90,000 cases when women were diagnosed with D.C.I.S. or invasive breast cancer, they either did not have the disease or they got incorrect treatment due to a pathologist error.
A 2002 study at Northwestern University Medical Center found that nearly 8 percent of 340 breast cancer cases ” had errors serious enough to change plans for surgery.”
Dr. Lagios, a pathologist at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, reviewed nearly 600 breast cases in 2007 and 2008 and found discrepancies in 141 of them.
Mammograms also carry a first-time false positive rate of up to 6 percent. False positives can lead to unnecessary emotional stress and expensive repeat screenings, exposing you to even more radiation. Plus, as discussed earlier, they can sometimes result in unnecessary invasive procedures including biopsies, unnecessary surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and more.
The BEST Way to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Mammograms will not prevent you from getting breast cancer, and the latest study shows they offer very little benefit in improving your chances of survival if you do have it. So the best strategy, which I encourage all women to embark upon today, is not to simply get your yearly mammogram and hope for the best — it’s to make lifestyle changes that will significantly cut your cancer risks in the first place.
Researchers estimate that about 40 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases, or about 70,000 cases every year, could be prevented by making lifestyle changes.
A healthy diet, regular physical exercise, and an effective way to manage your emotional health are the cornerstones of just about any cancer prevention program, including breast cancer, but you will also want to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone that influences virtually every cell in your body, is easily one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters.
According to one landmark study, some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased. And that’s just counting the death toll for two types of cancer (it actually works against at least 16 different types)!
So please do watch my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to find out what your optimal vitamin D levels should be … and how to get them there. This is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself from cancer.
There’s also research showing that by simply supplementing your diet with animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil you may reduce your breast cancer risk by 32 percent, so this is another strategy I suggest you embrace.
What about Screening?
Effective cancer screening methods are important, but mammography is simply NOT a safe or effective cancer screen. Instead, I strongly advise you to consider the safer and more effective alternative of thermographic breast screening, especially if you are younger and have not already been diagnosed with, or undergone treatment for, breast cancer.
By measuring the radiation of infrared heat from your body, thermographic screening can detect signs of breast cancer as much as 10 years earlier than either mammography or a physical exam — all without any ionizing radiation or mechanical pressure.
Its ability to detect the possibility of breast cancer, before any tumors have formed, is because it can provide a picture of the early stages of angiogenesis — the formation of a direct supply of blood to cancer cells, which is a necessary step before they can grow into tumors of size.
I recently discussed this mechanism in another article. In it, Dr. Li presents compelling evidence that by including more anti-angiogenetic foods in your diet, you may be able to effectively starve cancer and prevent tumors from ever forming since they must have sufficient blood supply to thrive, just like all other cells.
Were you to undergo a thermographic screening and discover that angiogenesis is taking place, meaning that tiny blood vessels have begun sprouting to an area to feed cancer cells, you now have YEARS at your disposal to effectively “cure yourself” (although by conventional standards you’re not yet ill) by implementing lifesaving lifestyle changes.
This would logically include increased amounts of anti-angiogenetic foods such as red grapes, berries, turmeric and broccoli, just to name a few. For more information, I recommend watching Dr. Li’s video.
This information is for informational purposes only. It should not be taken as medical advice. Copyright ©2010 by HealthierTalk.com
Published on Healthier Talk (http://www.healthiertalk.com)
Imaginary cancer-fighting life saver– By Jenny Thompson – Created 12/13/2010 – 7:00am
Ask any car salesman if you need to buy a car and you’ll get a resounding “Yes!” After all, his livelihood depends on putting you in the driver’s seat. Same with mammograms.
The American College of Radiology advises all women over the age of 40 to get a yearly mammogram. But ACR is a national organization that represents thousands of radiologists, radiation oncologists, and other medical professionals whose livelihoods largely depend on putting your breasts between the plates of a mammography unit.
And right now, their sales pitch is in high gear on TV and radio.
The campaign is called Mammography Saves Lives–a title that sums up the pitch in three simple, misleading words.
To my thinking, the best thing about the MSL campaign is the reaction from the medical community. Several mainstream doctors are finally stepping up and stating the truth about mammograms.
And just about everything they’re saying confirms exactly what I’ve been saying for years.
Over-diagnosed and over-treated . Let’s get right to the main question: Does mammography really save lives?
You probably know MY answer to that, but let’s hear from Dr. John D. Keen of Chicago’s Cook County John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital.
Dr. Keen recently wrote this in the American Board of Family Medicine: “The premise of a near universal life-saving benefit from finding presymptomatic breast cancer through mammography is false.”
He explains that, statistically, the chance that a mammogram will save a life is very slim. But women under the age of 50 who have a mammogram are 10 TIMES more likely to be over-diagnosed and over-treated!
Of course, the MSL campaign features testimonials by women who absolutely believe mammograms saved their lives when breast cancer was detected. But is this an emotional belief, or is it based on fact?
Here’s what Dr. Karsten Juhl Jorgensen of Denmark’s Nordic Cochrane Center told Medscape Medical News about the typical woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer: “There is no way of knowing if the symptom-free cancer she was diagnosed with would ever have developed into clinical disease. And if it was destined to do so, we cannot know if the screen-detection changed the prognosis in her particular case.”
Dr. Jorgensen adds that mammography offers “marginal benefits and serious harms.” And: “A decision not to get screened can be as sensible and responsible as the decision to get screened.” (I’m saving this quote and bringing it to my annual OB/GYN appointment next year!)
And finally, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, gave Medscape these estimates for mammogram screening of 2,500 women, beginning at age 50 and continuing for 10 years: About 1,000 false alarms – About 1,250 biopsies
Five to 15 women would be over-diagnosed and needlessly treated with surgery, radiation, chemo, or a combination of those treatments And through all of that only one life would be saved.
Medscape asked Dr. Welch to imagine what message he’d like to see in a mammogram campaign.
Dr. Welch: “Mammography has both benefits and harms…that’s why it’s a personal decision. Screening mammography may help you avoid a cancer death or may lead you to be treated for cancer unnecessarily. But both are rare; most often it will do neither.”
I appreciate Dr. Welch’s balanced, rational approach. But unfortunately it doesn’t allow for the compression contradiction. In medical school, students are instructed to examine breasts gently because excessive pressure may cause existing cancer to spread. And men, trust me on this one, the pressure between those two plates on a mammogram unit is excessive and then some!
This is the compression contradiction. And it’s the very heart of what’s wrong with mammography. It physically hurts, and while supposedly saving lives it may actually set in motion a life-threatening cancer.
This information is for informational purposes only. It should not be taken as medical advice. Copyright ©2010 by HealthierTalk.com
One-third of cancers found in mammograms are not life-threatening,
but the chemo poisoning of women continues
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) It’s a long-simmering question that has now turned into a full-blown controversy: What is the real value of mammograms if 33 percent of the cancers found during the procedure aren’t deadly but lead to poisoning chemotherapy or worse, breast removal, anyway?
A new study that examined three decades’ worth of government health data that as many as one-third of cancers that were found via routine mammograms may not be life-threatening, raising once again the question about the value and benefits of traditional breast cancer screening.
Researchers said that, based on the data examined, more than one million women could have been wrongly over-diagnosed with breast cancer, thereby exposing them needlessly to the angst that comes with the diagnosis, as well as the traditional healthcare treatments for the disease.
“It’s a lot of women. It’s a very substantial harm,” said Dr. Gilbert Welch of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice in New Hampshire, according to Reuters.
As expected, proponents of mammograms from the medical-industrial complex have already begun criticizing the study’s findings, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Proponents essentially have said that, while mammograms aren’t perfect, their benefits still outweigh the risks.
Welch, who conducted his study in conjunction with Dr. Archie Bleyer of St. Charles Health System in Oregon, has made over-diagnosis a primary focus of his research. Earlier, in a separate study, he concluded that as many as one million men had been over-diagnosed with prostate cancer since the introduction of the heavily used PSA test in 1986.
His conclusions contradict the deeply institutionalized belief within the medical community that cancer screening is always good because it saves lives – but the idea that this is gospel is increasingly being challenged by studies like those performed by Welch which are taking a hard look at the harms of such screening.
“We’re not the first to suggest this, and it has come at a very huge human cost – the cost of telling a large number of women they have cancer and treating women for cancer with chemotherapy and radiation and surgery,” Welch told Reuters.
Some adjustments have been made, but not enough
Though the medical-industrial complex has lashed out at every opportunity, research appears to be taking its toll on institutionalized treatment orthodoxy.
In 2009, for instance, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, a government-supported advisory panel, issued new guidelines suggesting women begin routine mammogram screenings at age 50 instead of 40, “in part because the tests have such high false positive rates and the benefits in lives saved did not outweigh the worry and anguish caused by the false positive results,” said Reuters.
The panel’s conclusion, based in large part on a review of published studies, went against years of accepted norm regarding the need for routine breast cancer screenings beginning at age 40. The recommendation triggered a vocal backlash from doctors, advocacy groups and even vote-seeking lawmakers who insisted the tests saved lives and were therefore worth any risk of false positivesthat may occur from time to time.
The medical-industrial complex even fought back with a study of its own. A supposedly independent panel of advisors in Britain who ostensibly reviewed data from 11 studies supported critics of the task force, saying that for every 10,000 50-year-old women asked to get a mammogram over the next two decades, screening would prevent 43 deaths and result in 129 cases of over-diagnosed breast cancers, thereby preventing one death for every three over-diagnosed cases (though we’re not sure how the math adds up on that one).
To this day, the matter remains far from resolved. Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, told Reuters the new study’s results were an “interesting conversation starter,” but not the final word on the matter. “It points out issues that many if not all experts agree on, but the degree of the number of women have been impacted and the true impact of the negative side of mammography is something that other researchers would disagree with,” he said.
Are the figures for real cancer diagnoses adding up?
In their study, Welch and Bleyer examined how well mammography worked as a screening tool. To reduce the rate of death from cancer, they figured that screening needs to not simply find more cancer in its early stages but also reduce the number of cancers that are discovered late, when treatments aren’t as likely to be effective.
Using government health and census information, the researchers compared breast cancer diagnosis between 1976-1978, before mammogram screening was widely used, with data from 2006-2008, when mammogram screening had become routine and well-established.
They discovered that the implementation of mammography in the U.S. doubled the number of cases of early stage breast cancer detected each year, “but the rate at which women are diagnosed with late-stage cancer has only fallen by eight percent,” said Reuters, citing the study’s data.
“You see with mammography a dramatic increase in early-stage disease, but you don’t see much compensatory decrease in late-stage disease. That means you are finding a whole lot of early cancers that were never destined to become late-stage,” Welch said, adding that mammogram screening isn’t likely doing very much to catch cancers at an even earlier stage, when they can be more successfully treated.
The research team estimated that 1.3 million women in the United States had been over-diagnosed over the last 30 years. In 2008 alone, they estimated the figure to be 70,000 over-diagnosed cases, or 31 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed. “I can’t discount that there may be a tiny fraction of women who are helped by screening, but we can say it is very small – much smaller than conventional wisdom,” he said.
Before yournext Mammogram – READ THIS
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among American women between the ages of 44 and 55. Dr. Gofinan, in his book, Preventing Breast Cancer, cites this startling statistic along with an in-depth look at mammographic screening, an early-detection practice that agencies like the American Cancer Society recommend to women of all age groups. According to most health experts, catching a tumor in its early stages increases a woman’s chances of survival by at least 17 percent.
The most common method for early detectionis mammography. A mammogramis an X-ray picture of your breast that can reveal tumor growths otherwise undetectable in a physical exam. Like all x-rays, mammograms use doses of ionizing radiationto create this image. Radiologists then analyze the image for any abnormal growths. Despite continuous improvements and innovations, mammographyhas garnered a sizable opposition in the medical community because of an error rate that is still high and the amount of harmful radiationused in the procedure.
Effectiveness of Mammography
Is mammography an effective tool for detecting tumors? Some critics say no. In a Swedish study of 60,000 women, 70 percent of the mammographically detected tumors weren’t tumors at all. These “false positives” aren’t just financial and emotional strains, they may also leadto many unnecessary and invasive biopsies. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of all positive mammogramsdo not, upon biopsy, show any presence of cancer.
At the same time, mammograms also have a high rate of missed tumors, or “false negatives.” Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, in his book, The Politics Of Cancer, claims that in women ages 40 to 49, one in four instances of cancer is missed at each mammography. The National Cancer Institute(NCI) puts the false negative rate even higher at 40 percent among women ages 40-49. National Institutes of Healthspokespeople also admit that mammograms miss 10 percent of malignant tumors in women over 50. Researchers have found that breast tissueis denser among younger women, making it difficult to detect tumors. For this reason, false negatives are twice as likely to occur in premenopausal mammograms.
Many critics of mammography cite the hazardous healtheffects of radiation. In 1976, the controversy over radiation and mammography reached a saturation point. At that time mammographic technologydelivered five to 10 rads (radiation-absorbed doses) per screening, as compared to 1 rad in current screening methods. In women between the ages of 35 and 50, each rad of exposureincreased the risk of breast cancerby one percent, according to Dr. Frank Rauscher, then-director of the NCI.
According to Russell L. Blaylock, MD, one estimate is that annual radiological breast exams increase the riskof breast cancer by two percent a year. So over 10 years the risk will have increased 20 percent. In the 1960s and 70s, women, even those who received 10 screeningsa year, were never told the risk they faced from exposure. In the midst of the 1976 radiation debate, Kodak, a major manufacturer of mammography film, took out full-page ads in scientific journals entitled About breast cancer and X-rays: A hopeful message from industryon a sober topic.
Despite better technology and decreased doses of radiation, scientistsstill claim mammography is a substantial risk. Dr. John W. Gofman, an authorityon the health effects of ionizing radiation, estimates that 75 percent of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation. This includes mammography, x-rays and other medical and dental sources.
Since mammographic screening was introduced, the incidence of a form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) has increased by 328 percent. Two hundred percent of this increase is allegedly due to mammography. In addition to harmful radiation, mammography may also help spread existing cancer cellsdue to the considerable pressure placed on the woman’s breast during the procedure. According to some health practitioners, this compression could cause existing cancer cells to metastasize from the breast tissue.
Cancer researchhas also found a gene, called oncogene AC, that is extremely sensitive to even small doses of radiation. A significant percentage of women in the United Stateshave this gene, which could increase their risk of mammography-induced cancer. They estimate that 10,000 A-T carriers will die of breast cancer this year due to mammography.
The risk of radiation is apparently higher among younger women. The NCI released evidencethat, among women under 35, mammography could cause 75 cases of breast cancer for every 15 it identifies. Another Canadian study found a 52 percent increase in breast cancer mortalityin young women given annual mammograms. Dr. Samuel Epstein also claims that pregnant women exposed to radiation could endanger their fetus. He advises against mammography during pregnancy because “the future risksof leukemia to your unborn child, not to mention birthdefects, are just not worth it.” Similarly, studies reveal that childrenexposed to radiation are more likely to develop breast cancer as adults.
Navigating the Statistics
While the number of deathscaused by breast cancer has decreased, the incidence of breast cancer is still rising. Since 1940, the incidence of breast cancer has risen by one to two percent every year. Between 1973 and 1991, the incidence of breast cancer in females over 65 rose nearly 40 percent in the United States.
Some researchers attribute this increase to better detection technologies; i.e., as the number of women screened for breast cancer rises, so does the number of reported cases. Other analysts say the correlation between mammographic screening and increases in breast cancer is much more ominous, suggesting radiation exposureis responsible for the growing number of cases. While the matter is still being debated, Professor Sandra Steingraber offers ways to navigate these statistics. According to Steingraber, the rise in breast cancer predates the introduction of mammograms as a common diagnostic tool. In addition, the groups of women in whom breast cancer incidence is ascending most swiftly – blacks and the elderly – are also least likely to get regular mammograms.
The majority of health expertsagree that the risk of breast cancer for women under 35 is not high enough to warrant the risk of radiation exposure. Similarly, the risk of breast cancer to women over 55 justifies the risk of mammograms. The statistics about mammography and women between the ages of 40 and 55 are the most contentious. A 1992 Canadian National Breast Cancer Study showed that mammography had no positive effect on mortality for women between the ages of 40 and 50. In fact, the study seemed to suggest that women in that age group are more likely to die of breast cancer when screened regularly.
Burton Goldberg, in his book, Alternative Medicine, recommends that women under 50 avoid screening mammograms, although the American Cancer Societyencourages mammograms every two years for women ages 40 to 49. Trying to settle this debate, a 1997 consensus panel appointed by the NIHruled that there was no evidence that mammograms for this age group save lives; they may even do more harm than good. The panel advises women to weigh the risks with their doctorsand decide for themselves.
New Screening Technologies
While screening is an important step in fighting breast cancer, many researchers are looking for alternativesto mammography. Burton Goldberg totes the safety and accuracy of new thermographytechnologies. Able to detect cancersat a minute physical stage of development, thermography does not use x-rays, nor is there any compression of the breast. Also important, new thermography technologies do not lose effectiveness with dense breast tissue, decreasing the chances of false-negative results.
Some doctors are now offering digital mammograms. Digital mammography is a mammography system in which x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert x-rays into electric signals. Though radiation is still used, digital mammography requires a much smaller dose. The electrical signals are used to produce images that can be electronically manipulated; a physician can zoom in, magnify and optimize different parts of breast tissue without having to take an additional image.
The expertsspeak on mammograms and breast cancer:
Regular mammography of younger women increases their cancer risks. Analysis of controlled trials over the last decade has shown consistent increases in breast cancer mortality within a few years of commencing screening. This confirms evidence of the high sensitivity of the premenopausal breast, and on cumulative carcinogenic effects of radiation.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 539
In his book, “Preventing Breast Cancer,” Dr. Gofinan says that breast cancer is the leading cause of deathamong American women between the ages of forty-four and fifty-five. Because breast tissue is highly radiation-sensitive, mammograms can cause cancer. The dangercan be heightened by a woman’s genetic makeup, preexisting benign breast disease, artificial menopause, obesity, and hormonal imbalance.
Death By Medicine by Gary Null PhD, page 23
“The risk of radiation-induced breast cancer has long been a concern to mammographers and has driven the efforts to minimize radiation dose per examination,” the panel explained. “Radiation can cause breast cancer in women, and the risk is proportional to dose. The younger the woman at the time of exposure, the greater her lifetime risk for breast cancer.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 122
Furthermore, there is clear evidence that the breast, particularly in premenopausal women, is highly sensitive to radiation, with estimates of increased risk of breast cancer of up to 1% for every rad (radiation absorbed dose) unit of X-ray exposure. This projects up to a 20% increased cancer riskfor a woman who, in the 1970s, received 10 annual mammograms of an average two rads each. In spite of this, up to 40% of women over 40 have had mammograms since the mid-1960s, some annually and some with exposures of 5 to 10 rads in a single screening from older, high-dose equipment.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 537
No less questionable—or controversial—has been the use of X rays to detect breast cancer: mammography. The American Cancer Society initially promoted the procedure as a safe and simple way to detect breast tumors early and thus allow women to undergo mastectomies before their cancers had metastasized.
The Cancer Industry by Ralph W Moss, page 23
The American Cancer Society, together with the American College of Radiologists, has insisted on pursuing largescale mammography screening programs for breast cancer, including its use in younger women, even though the NCI and other experts are now agreed that these are likely to cause more cancers than could possibly be detected.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 291
A number of “cancer societies” argued, saying the tests — which cost between $50-200 each – – are a necessity for all women over 40, despite the fact that radiation from yearly mammograms during ages 40-49 has been estimated to cause one additional breast cancer deathper 10,000 women.
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 21
Mammograms Add to Cancer Risk—mammography exposes the breast to damaging ionizing radiation. John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., an authority on the health effects of ionizing radiation, spent 30 years studying the effects of low-dose radiation on humans. He estimates that 75% of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation from mammography, X rays, and other medical sources. Other research has shown that, since mammographic screening was introduced in 1983, the incidence of a form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which represents 12% of all breast cancer cases, has increased by 328%, and 200% of this increase is due to the use of mammography.69 In addition to exposing a woman to harmful radiation, the mammography procedure may help spread an existing mass of cancer cells. During a mammogram, considerable pressure must be placed on the woman’s breast, as the breast is squeezed between two flat plastic surfaces. According to some health practitioners, this compression could cause existing cancer cells to metastasize from the breast tissue.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 588
In fact the benefitsof annual screening to women age 40 to 50, who are now being aggressively recruited, are at best controversial. In this age group, one in four cancers is missed at each mammography. Over a decade of pre-menopausal screening, as many as three in 10 women will be mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer. Moreover, international studieshave shown that routine premenopausal mammography is associated with increased breast cancer death rates at older ages. Factors involved include: the high sensitivity of the premenopausal breast to the cumulative carcinogenic effects of mammographic X-radiation; the still higher sensitivity to radiation of women who carry the A-T gene; and the danger that forceful and often painful compression of the breast during mammography may rupture small bloodvessels and encourage distant spread of undetected cancers.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 540
Since a mammogram is basically an x-ray (radiation) of the breast, I do not recommend mammograms to my patients for two reasons: 1) Few radiologistsare able to read mammogams correctly, therefore limiting their effectiveness. Even the man who developed this technique stated on national television that only about six radiologists in the United States could read them correctly. 2) In addition, each time the breasts are exposed to an x-ray, the risk of breast cancer increases by 2 percent.
The Hope of Living Cancer Free by Francisco Contreras MD, page 104
Mammography itself is radiation: an X-ray picture of the breast to detect a potential tumor. Each woman must weigh for herself the risks and benefits of mammography. As with most carcinogens, there is a latency period or delay between the time of irradiation and the occurrence of breast cancer. This delay can vary up to decades for different people. Response to radiation is especially dramatic in children. Women who received X-rays of the breast area as children have shown increased rates of breast cancer as adults. The first increase is reflected in women younger than thirty-five, who have early onset breast cancer. But for this exposed group, flourishing breast cancer rates continue for another forty years or longer.
Eat To Beat Cancer by J Robert Hatherill, page 132
The use of women as guinea pigs is familiar. There is revealing consistency between the tamoxifen trial and the 1970s trial by the NCI and American Cancer Society involving high-dose mammography of some 300,000 women. Not only is there little evidence of effectiveness of mammography in premeno-pausal women, despite NCI’s assurances no warnings were given of the known high risks of breast cancer from the excessive X-ray doses then used. There has been no investigation of the incidence of breast cancer in these high-risk women. Of related concern is the NCI’s continuing insistence on premeno-pausal mammography, in spite of contrary warnings by the American College of Physicians and the Canadian Breast Cancer Task Force and in spite of persisting questions about hazards even at current low-dose exposures. These problems are compounded by the NCI’s failure to explore safe alternatives, especially transillumination with infrared light scanning.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 544
High Rate of False Positives—mammography’s high rate of false-positive test resultswastes money and creates unnecessary emotional trauma. A Swedish study of 60,000 women, aged 40-64, who were screened for breast cancer revealed that of the 726 actually referred to oncologists for treatment, 70% were found to be cancer free. According to The Lancet, of the 5% of mammograms that suggest further testing, up to 93% are false positives. The Lancet report further noted that because the great majority of positive screenings are false positives, these inaccurate results lead to many unnecessary biopsies and other invasive surgical procedures. In fact, 70% to 80% of all positive mammograms do not, on biopsy, show any presence of cancer.71 According to some estimates, 90% of these “callbacks” result from unclear readings due to dense overlying breast tissue.72
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 588
“Radiation-related breast cancers occur at least 10 years after exposure,” continued the panel. “Radiation from yearly mammograms during ages 40-49 has been estimated to cause one additional breast cancer death per 10,000 women.”
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 122
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is a high rate of missed tumors in women ages 40-49 which results in 40% false negative test results. Breast tissue in younger women is denser, which makes it more difficult to detect tumours, so tumours grow more quickly in younger women, and tumours may develop between screenings. Because there is no reduction in mortality from breast cancer as a direct result of early mammogram, it is recommended that women under fifty avoid screening mammograms although the American Cancer Society still recommends a mammogram every two years for women age 40-49. Dr. Love states, “We know that mammography works and will be a lifesaving tool for at least 30%.”
Treating Cancer With Herbs by Michael Tierra ND, page 467
Equivocal mammogram results lead to unnecessary surgery, and the accuracy rate of mammograms is poor. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in women ages 40-49, there is a high rate of “missed tumors,” resulting in 40% false-negative mammogram results. Breast tissue in younger women is denser, which makes it more difficult to detect tumors, and tumors grow more quickly in younger women, so cancer may develop between screenings.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 973
Even worse, spokespeople for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) admit that mammograms miss 25 percent of malignant tumors in women in their 40s (and 10 percent in older women). In fact, one Australian study found that more than half of the breast cancers in younger women are not detectable by mammograms.
Underground Cures by Health Sciences Institute, page 42
Whatever you may be told, refuse routine mammograms to detect early breast cancer, especially if you are premenopausal. The X-rays may actually increase your chances of getting cancer. If you are older, and there are strong reasons to suspect that you may have breast cancer, the risks may be worthwhile. Very few circumstances, if any, should persuade you to have X-rays taken if you are pregnant. The future risks of leukaemia to your unborn child, not to mention birth defects, are just not worth it.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 305
Other medical research has shown that the incidence of a form of breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which accounts for 12% of all breast cancer cases, increased by 328% — and 200% of this increase is due to the use of mammography!
Under The Influence Modern Medicine by Terry A Rondberg DC, page 123
As the controversy heated up in 1976, it was revealed that the hundreds of thousands of women enrolled in the program were never told the risk they faced from the procedure (ibid.). Young women faced the greatest danger. In the thirty-five- to fifty-year-old age group, each mammogram increased the subject’s chance of contracting breast cancer by 1 percent, according to Dr. Frank Rauscher, then director of the National Cancer Institute (New YorkTimes, August 23, 1976).
The Cancer Industry by Ralph W Moss, page 24
Because there is no reduction in mortality from breast cancer as a direct result of early mammograms, it is recommended that women under 50 avoid screening mammograms, although the American Cancer Society is still recommending a mammogram every two years for women ages 40-49. The NCI recommends that, after age 35, women perform monthly breast self-exams. For women over 50, many doctors still advocate mammograms. However, breast self-exams and safer, more accurate technologies such as thermography should be strongly considered as options to mammography.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 973
In the midst of the debate, Kodaktook out full-page ads in scientific journals entitled “About breast cancer and X-rays: A hopeful message from industry on a sober topic” (see Science, July 2, 1976). Kodak is a major manufacturer of mammography film.
The Cancer Industry by Ralph W Moss, page 24
The largest and most credible study ever done to evaluate the impact of routine mammography on survivalhas concluded that routine mammograms do significantly reduce deaths from breast cancer. Scientists in the United States, Sweden, Britain, and Taiwan compared the number of deaths from breast cancer diagnosed in the 20 years before mammogram screening became available with the number in the 20 years after its introduction. The research was based on the histories and treatment of 210,000 Swedish women ages 20 to 69. The researchers found that death from breast cancer dropped 44 percent in women who had routine mammography. Among those who refused mammograms during this time period there was only a 16 percent reduction in death from this disease (presumably the decrease was due to better treatment of the malignancy).
Dr Isadore Rosenfeld’s Breakthrough Health By Isadore Rosenfeld MD, page 47
In 1993—seventeen years after the first pilot study—the biochemist Mary Wolff and her colleagues conducted the first carefully designed, major study on this issue. They analyzed DDE and PCB levels in the stored blood specimens of 14,290 New York City women who had attended a mammography screening clinic. Within six months, fifty-eight of these women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Wolff matched each of these fifty-eight women to control subjects—women without cancer but of the same age, same menstrual status, and so on—who had also visited the clinic. The blood samples of the women with breast cancer were then compared to their cancer-free counterparts.
Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber PhD, page 12
One reason may be that mammograms actually increase mortality. In fact numerous studies to date have shown that among the under-50s, more women die from breast cancer among screened groups than among those not given mammograms. The results of the Canadian National Breast Cancer Screening Trial published in 1993, after a screen of 50,000 women between 40-49, showed that more tumors were detected in the screened group, but not only were no lives saved but 36 percent more women died from
The Cancer Handbook by Lynne McTaggart, page 57
One Canadian study found a 52 percent increase in breast cancer mortality in young women given annual mammograms, a procedure whose stated purpose is to prevent cancer. Despite evidence of the link between cancer and radiation exposure to women from mammography, the American Cancer Society has promoted the practice without reservation. Five radiologists have served as ACS presidents.53
When Healing Becomes A Crime by Kenny Ausubel, page 233
Premenopausal women carrying the A-T gene, about 1.5 percent of women, are more radiation sensitive and at higher cancer risk from mammography. It has been estimated that up to 10,000 breast cancer cases each year are due to mammography of A-T carriers.
The Politics Of Cancer by Samuel S Epstein MD, page 539
A study reported that mammography combined with physical exams found 3,500 cancers, 42 percent of which could not be detected by physical exam. However, 31 percent of the tumors were noninfiltrating cancer. Since the course of breast cancer is long, the time difference in cancer detected through mammography may not be a benefit in terms of survival.
Woman’s Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Dr Gary Null, page 86
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also has called for more mammograms among women over 50. However, constant screening still can miss breast cancer. mammograms are at their poorest in detecting breast cancer when the woman is under 50.
The Cancer Handbook by Lynne McTaggart, page 53
Despite its shortcomings, every woman between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine should have one every year. I also recommend them annually for women over seventy, even though early detection isn’t as important for the slow-growing form of breast cancer they tend to get. One mammogram should probably be taken at age forty to establish a baseline, but how often women should have them after that is debatable. Some authorities favor annual screening. Others feel there’s not enough evidence to support screening at all before fifty. Still others believe that every two years is sufficient. I lean toward having individual women and their doctors go over the pros and cons and make their own decisions. Finally, a mammogram is appropriate at any age if a lump has been detected.
The Longevity Code By Zorba Paster MD, page 234
For breast cancer, thermography offers a very early warning system, often able to pinpoint a cancer process five years before it would be detectable by mammography. Most breast tumors have been growing slowly for up to 20 years before they are found by typical diagnostic techniques. Thermography can detect cancers when they are at a minute physical stage of development, when it is still relatively easy to halt and reverse the progression of the cancer. No rays of any kind enter the patient’s body; there is no painor compressing of the breasts as in a mammogram. While mammography tends to lose effectiveness with dense breast tissue, thermography is not dependent upon tissue densities.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 587