Exaggerated Faith in Mammograms: A Better Way

Several years ago, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute  reported on a study that included 145 women who assessed their feelings about mammograms and found the following:

  • Women over estimated their probability of dying of breast cancer within 10 years by more than 20-fold.
  • Women over estimated the risk reduction of annual screening mammograms more than 100-fold.  
  • The study concluded, “women younger than 50 years substantially over-estimate both their breast cancer risk and the effectiveness of screening.”

COMMENT: Everywhere you look — in print, on TV, across the Internet and even at the cosmetic counters of department stores — mammogram advocates are pushing the procedure as if it was the ultimate cure for cancer.  It is not.

While early detection may save lives, screening mammograms do not prevent cancer.  In the 1980s, by the time a woman found a lump, the tumor was advanced. Annual mammography came into wide acceptance around that time as a way to find a tumor before it could be felt.  The idea was that by finding it early, treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemo could reduce the breast cancer death rate.  By this measure, mammograms are a success.

Instead of demanding cancer prevention, we scream for early detection. Researchers stopped looking for the cause because we’re demanding the Cure.  We run and sweat to raise money for “research.”  Does anyone see the problem with this? We are really raising money for the drug companies – which have more wealth than most countries – to cure something we can avoid with the right tools. 

In addition to finding the cause, we need to demand that a state-of-the-art breast thermogram be performed with every breast exam and every mammogram. We need to insist that insurance companies cover this test as readily as they cover mammograms and cancer therapies.  With thermography, areas of concern can be identified and addressed by dietary and lifestyle changes, lymph drainage exercises, evidence-based vitamins and nutraceuticals. Improvements can be closely followed by non-invasive, non-painful infrared imaging. If the area of heat goes away, the risk of progression, by definition, goes away.

Think thermography: Redefine the meaning of “Early Detection.” Here’s more information about our program.

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