Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Mammogram Debacle

The Mammogram Debacle
Women have been conditioned to get yearly mammograms.  They have been told by the Powers-That-Be that screening mammograms save lives.  So, let me ask the question:  Do women who get screening mammograms have a lowered breast cancer mortality rate when compared to women not screened?
Canadian researchers attempted to answer this question and published a study in last week’s British Medical Journal (BMJ.  Feb 11, 2014).  Researchers enrolled 89,305 Canadian women aged 40-59 and randomly assigned them to a treatment group who received annual mammography and compared them to a control group who did not undergo mammography.  The main outcome studied was death from breast cancer.
During the entire study period (25 years) 3250 women in the mammography arm and 3133 in the control arm were diagnosed with breast cancer.  500 women in the mammography arm and 505 in the control arm died from breast cancer.  There was no significant change in the death rate between the women who received and those who did not receive annual mammograms. 
The author’s concluded, “Annual mammography in women aged 40-59 years does not reduce mortality from breast cancer beyond that of physical examination or usual care…”
Mammograms provide a radiological image of the breasts. The Powers-That-Be want us to believe that early diagnosis translates into improved mortality rates.  Unfortunately, after more than 30 years and hundreds of thousands of mammographic studies, there is no clear data that mammograms save lives. 
There is no question that mammograms pick up abnormalities in the breasts at a much earlier stage as compared to the physical exam–palpation of the breast.   However, as the Canadian studies showed, early diagnosis of breast cancer has not translated into improved mortality rates.  A similar situation occurs in men with prostate testing via the PSA test–early diagnosis does not change the course of the illness for the vast majority men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. 
Keep in mind that mammograms are associated with adverse effects.  Mammograms utilize ionizing radiation which is a known to cause cancer.  In fact, there is a one percent increase risk of developing breast cancer for each mammogram a woman receives.  That means, after 10 years, the risk could be as  high as ten percent.  Some think the risk is higher.
What should you do?  Don’t blindly follow anyone’s recommendation, mine included.  Do your research. Just because a doctor says that a yearly mammogram is needed doesn’t  make it so.  Thermography provides a non-toxic way to image the breast using heat.  Since it does not expose the breast tissue to ionizing radiation, thermography should be an option.  More information about thermography can be found at:  www.thermascan.com.
Final thoughts:  The war on breast cancer has been a dismal failure.  Presently, we have one in seven U.S. women suffering with breast cancer.  The best that the Powers-That-Be can offer us, after spending trillions of our scarce health care dollars, is the screening mammogram– which has never been shown to lower mortality rates.   I say we need to refocus our efforts.  We need to spend our money figuring out what is causing one in seven women to have breast breast cancer.  We need less money spent on diagnosing cancer and more spent on how to prevent it.  What can you do?  Make your views known.  Congress will listen to us if we speak loudly enough.  And, finally, don’t donate to organizations that are not trying to figure out why so many of us are getting cancer.  These same organizations are busy, in the case of breast cancer, promoting screening mammograms. 
What steps can you take to prevent becoming a breast cancer statistic? The number one thing is to eat a healthy diet free of hormones and pesticides.  Both synthetic hormones and pesticides have been linked to cancer.  Also, ensure that you have adequate iodine intake as I believe low iodine levels could explain why so many women are suffering from breast cancer as well as why so many men are suffering from prostate cancer.  More information about this can be found in my book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 5th Edition.
In the study of breast cancer, we can and should do better.  Either we make changes in how our cancer dollars are spent or we will all continue to suffer with more and more cancer diagnoses.