Our culture uses mammograms as a fix but doesn’t encourage women to change their diets, exercise, stop smoking, and learn how to be in relationships that nurture them. These are the preventive changes that favor healthy breasts. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a revised recommendation in 2009 stating that women in their 40s should NOT necessarily have yearly mammograms, and need to carefully weigh the risks considering their personal situation.
The downside of mammograms:
Can cause increased anxiety
Your beliefs about your health can determine how healthy or sick you become. In our culture, we are led to believe that cancer cells are abnormal. This is not true, and it can cause many women to feel undue stress about their breasts. The truth is most of us have cancerous cells in our body that our immune systems are able to keep in check. But, thinking you have breast cancer when you really don’t, can create a cascade of fear and anger, which has a chemical effect in your body. In fact, studies have shown the connection between stress, anxiety and cancer progression. A recent study shows that false positive screenings can have negative, long-term psycho-social effects for up to 3 years after a false positive finding.
Exposes you to high levels of radiation
Radiation from a mammogram can be up to 1,000 times greater than a chest X-ray. In addition, some experts believe that ionizing radiation used in mammograms mutates breast cells. Plus, tight compression of the breasts can facilitate the spreading of already malignant cells (as can a biopsy.) Premenopausal and pregnant women have breast tissue that is more sensitive to radiation. And, it’s possible that these high levels of radiation could potentially cause an epidemic of radiation-induced breast cancers.
Leads to over-diagnosis and over-treatment
A recent cohort study reveals that mammography screening leads to over-diagnosis and over-treatment at a rate of 48.3 percent. This is particularly true for women under 40, and possibly for all premenopausal women for whom mammograms are not very accurate due to denser breast tissue. In late 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 1.3 million US women have been overdiagnosed and overtreated over the past 30 years.
Does not reduce mortality rate
Studies show that for every 2,000 women screened over 10 years, only one will avoid dying of breast cancer! And, 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if they had not been screened, will be treated unnecessarily.
One of the goals for the creation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month when it was started back in 1985 was to promote mammography. Of course, many of the sponsors of Breast Cancer Awareness Month stood to profit from the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
So many women are diagnosed and over-treated for so called breast cancers that are not cancers. (By the way, the same thing happens with thyroid and prostate conditions!) And, increasingly, due to high resolution mammograms, DCIS — or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ — is being picked up on breast cancer screening tests.
DCIS is NOT cancer, though many doctors consider it to be “Stage 0 cancer.” And, depending upon what advice a woman is then given, she may well be advised to get treatment, which she rarely needs. This is a shame because 99.9 percent of the time DCIS is something a woman will die with but not die from!
For these reasons, it’s not surprising that the number of women having prophylactic mastectomies “just in case” has soared”, more than tripled from 2002 to 2012 even though studies have shown that removing healthy breasts doesn’t improve survival.
If you use breast thermography as your regular screening tool, it’s likely that you would have the opportunity to make adjustments to your diet, beliefs, and lifestyle to transform your cells before they became cancerous. Talk about true prevention.
So just say NO to mammograms, especially if you are being asked to have one each year. Do your own research, learn more about your own body, and your state of health. Make informed decisions about your future health, and not decisions made from “fear of the unknown”.