Low Dose Radiation and Breast Cancer Risks

According to the International Journal of Cancer, some forms of low-dose radiation treatment, including chest xrays and for acne treatments, may increase the risk of breast cancer, particularly in genetically susceptible women.

Self-reported information was available for 2,254 breast cancer patients and 3,431 healthy women, which included the sisters of the patients or women from the general population. Radiation treatment of a previous cancer increased the risk of breast cancer by 3.55-foldThey also noted a trend toward higher breast cancer risk among women who received radiotherapy for acne or other skin conditions. Women who had diagnostic chest X-rays for tuberculosis or pneumonia had more than twice the normal risk of breast cancer.

COMMENT: Conventional medicine stopped using routine annual chest xrays years ago because of the increased risk of cancer.  It is time for women to understand that routine mammograms are leading to the same endpoint. For each 1 rad of radiation (which is about 2 mammograms) the risk of cancer is increased by 1 percent.  Radiation accumulates it doesn’t simply pass through the tissues onto the plastic plate.

Thermography’s only error is that it is “too early.” The tools to address a positive thermogram include diet, exercise, iodine, and other neutraceuticals that conventional doctors know little, if anything, about.  It is in this capacity that the paradigm must shift.

Increasing the widespread use of thermography is an exciting opportunity. By painlessly screening younger women using a high resolution tool without radiation, we may be able to prevent or minimize not only cancer, but all breast disease.

Thermography: Redefining the Meaning of Early Detection

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Prophylactic Mastectomies: Where’s the Science?

Blog posts M-W-F…please spread the word!

COMMENT: This amazing abstract deserved to be posted in full. Conventional medicine poo-poos thermography, writing it off as having “no proof of efficacy” and having ” no support in science” despite years of published studies and clinical evidence.  New research points out that aggressive medical procedures, such as prophylactic bilateral mastectomies even in women with BRCA genes, has little foundation in science.  My vote would be for non-invasive, RISK FREE, pain-free and radiation-free prevention rather than radical surgery with little science to support it.                               +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ABSTRACT From International Journal of Cancer Published Online: 30 Apr 2007

Mini Review: Effectiveness of preventive interventions in BRCA1/2 gene mutation carriers: A systematic review  by M.J. Bermejo-Pérez  et al  

A systematic review of the literature was conducted to assess the outcomes of preventive interventions (prophylactic mastectomies, intensive cancer screening, and chemoprevention such as Tamoxifen) in women who carry mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, in terms of reducing breast and gynecological cancer incidence and/or mortality.

A search for relevant articles published between 1996 and 2005 (inclusive) was run on Medline, Embase and other databases. From the 749 journal articles retrieved from this search strategy, [only] 18 studies were eligible for this review (2 systematic reviews, 10 cohort studies and 6 case-control studies). The critical appraisal of the studies was performed by two independent reviewers with a list of ad hoc selected criteria. The synthesis of results was qualitative.

Mastectomy and prophylactic gynecological surgery (oophorectomy [ovaries removed] or salpingo-oophorectomy [ovaries and tubes removed] )  reduced breast and gynecological cancer incidence in carriers of BRCA mutations, by comparison to surveillance.  However, all the studies presented flaws in internal and external validity, none of these preventive interventions is risk-free, and protection against breast and gynecological cancer, as well as other cancers linked to BRCA mutations, is incomplete.

No studies comparing surveillance programs of varying intensity were found. Exposure to drugs (such as tamoxifen and oral contraceptives) in women carrying BRCA mutations was assessed through a limited number of papers. All of these were case-control studies with prevalent cases and presented major methodological flaws. 

Additional comment: Where’s the science to support this disfiguring, radical procedure?

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Mammograms fail…again

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In the push to get MRIs approved for breast cancer screening, the ugly truth about the poor performance of mammography is coming to light.

In the August issue of The Lancet, a study was reported that included 7,319 women who were followed for 5 years at a national academic breast center in Germany. During that time, 193 women were diagnosed through surgical biopsy with “pure” ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS.  Of those, 167 had undergone both mammography and MRI preoperatively. The MRI had correctly identified 92 percent of DCIS while mammograms had missed almost half (46 percent).  With high-grade DCIS, MRI picked up all 89 tumors; mammography missed half (48 percent.) 

COMMENT: This study is being lauded across news outlets as a “break through” for early detection of breast cancer but be not deceived: It’s not prevention. The MRI is identifying the tiny specks of calcification that cannot be detected by a mammogram.

DCIS is not life-threatening. It is non-invasive, and is considered the earliest form of cancer—Stage 0. Most women who are diagnosed with DCIS are treated with radiation in an attempt to prevent recurrences.  However, a new cancer may turn up 25 years later—or longer. This usually happens in the same area of the breast where the DCIS was.  Sadly, there are steps that can be taken to improve health — such as the right nutrients, iodine and estrogen-lowering supplements — that can help prevent cancer from coming back.

The intent of the research on MRIs (this is one of many) is to force  insurance companies to approve MRIs for annual screenings to the tune of  $1000-1500 per exam in comparison to about $150 for screening mammograms.   That means insurance premiums will increase; those costs will be passed along to the insured.

Most importantly, research on MRIs should clearly point out the undeserved confidence women have been programmed to have in mammograms.  A normal annual xray may be nothing more than a temporary clean bill of health. This fully explains why women can have a normal mammogram five-six-seven years in a row and then the next year, they have cancer. The Lancet study confirms mammograms are *not* early detection!

The goal of breast health is to find areas of concern — and address them — before the tissues degrade to cancer.  While thermograms do not identify non-invasive calcifications, they have the ability to detect areas of DCIS that are starting to become aggressive, reflected as increased heat.   

Thermography: Redefining the meaning of “Early Detection.”

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A High Folate Intake Reduces Breast Cancer

NOTE: Blog posts are on M-W-F.  

In a study released August, 2007, involving 11,699 postmenopausal women aged 50 years or more, demonstrated an inverse association between folate intake and breast cancer risk. Those with the highest dietary folate intake, including supplements, had a 44 percent reduced risk of invasive breast cancer. Similarly, those with the highest intake had a 64 percent reduced risk of invasive breast cancer compared to those with the lowest quintile of intake.

COMMENT: Many medications can deplete folate from the body; Here are a few: birth control pills, anti-inflammatory drugs like methotrexate and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine); metformin (Glucophage) used in the treatment of diabetes; antibiotics like trimethoprim (Bactrim) and the anti-convulsant drug phenytoin (Dilantin). 

 

Researchers have reported an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer in women who drink one alcoholic beverage a day. Drinking more two to five drinks per day may be associated with a rate of breast cancer that is about 40 percent higher than the rate for non-drinkers. Perhaps the link is that alcohol depletes folate.

Fortified foods such as breads and cereals are dietary sources of folic acid. Other good sources are dark green leafy vegetables (such as asparagus and broccoli), green peas, green beans, pinto beans, and brewer’s yeast. Orange juice, beets, dates and avocado are also good sources. Poor sources meats, chicken, milk, and most fruits. In addition, daily supplementation with B-complex can add more energy and health benefits overall, including support to your adrenal.

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False Positive Mammograms

Thermography has been dismissed as unreliable by conventional physicians, claiming that the tool produces too many false positives.  Research since the 1970s has reported a false positive rate for thermography ranging from 6 to 13 percent.

Mammograms have a similar false positive rate.  How many times are women called back for “extra views” or had a biopsy that turned out to be benign (by the way, eight of ten biopsies are normal.) Those extra tests are a result of a false positive mammogram interpretation

Radiologists vary greatly in their ability to accurately interpret mammograms.  The most accurate interpretations are by physicians who have at least 25 years of experience, interpret 2,500 to 4,000 mammograms annually and have a practice focused on screening. However, the overall range of accuracy is frightening. 

In a study published in 2005 by U.S. Army Medical Research for its “Era of Hope Project,” radiologists (on average) accurately identified only 77 percent of cancers. For individual radiologists, the detection rate ranged from 29 percent to 97 percent. Think about that: Some physicians only found about 30 percent of tumors on a mammogram.  

Researchers further reported that while the average false positive rate for mammograms was 10%, the overall false positive reporting rate for individual physicians ranged from 1 percent to almost 30 percent.  A meta-analysis of 117 studies published April, 2007 in Annals of Internal Medicine  reported that false-positive results are 20% to 56% after 10 mammograms.

COMMENT: For thermogram nay-sayers, the facts speak for themselves. Thermography is at least as good as, and in many cases, provides more information than mammograms. In addition, it is painless and uses no radiation.

The bulk of the research involving breast thermography was conducted in the 1980s. State-of-the-art, ultra-sensitive infrared cameras and sophisticated computer software has evolved to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution images.  The problems encountered with first generation infrared camera systems, such as improper detector sensitivity (low-band), thermal drift, calibration problems, analog interface, etc. have been solved for almost two decades.  Think about the difference between black and white televisions and the new plasma screen TVs. Consider the evolution from the first computers that were housed in rooms to the handheld gigabyte gadgets common today. Technology progresses in every area; tools used today for breast thermography are vastly improved over equipment used twenty years ago. The results showed its usefulness then; the new tools make it even more important now. 

It’s time to put this technology in its rightful place as an important tool for breast health. Using thermography will redefine the meaning of Early Detection.

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Breast implants, mammograms and thermograms

Breast augmentation surgery is the most common cosmetic surgery in America. It is estimated that 4 million women have undergone breast implant surgery in the U.S., approximately 500,000 more will do so in 2007. According to the MayoClinic.com, breast implants may decrease the ability of mammograms to identify cancer because they can obscure a tumor. Depending on which studies are cited, it’s estimated that implants can obscure more than 50 percent of breast tissue.

The difference comes down to where they are placed. Those inserted below the chest muscle (about 50%) are less likely to obscure tissue than those placed above.  Both silicone and gel implants look like white “blobs” on the xray and may prevent a view of the tissue below.  In all cases, instead of the two standard views taken for each breast, four views are taken…adding up to more radiation.  The risk of rupture, although small, is real. Between June, 1992 and October of 2002, there were 41 cases of implant ruptures during mammography were reported to the FDA. 

COMMENT: The use of thermography in women who have breast implants is an area that deserves intense investigation. I have seen several women in my office who refused mammograms because they had implants. One woman’s thermogram was very abnormal and with much coaxing, she was convinced to obtain a mammogram. Unfortunately, she was found to have cancer in both breasts. 

Could this have been detected earlier if she had obtained regular mammograms? Quite possibly. But if women are going to refuse mammograms (for whatever reason, not just because they have implants), at the very least, they should get a thermogram. We need to redefine the meaning of Early Detection.

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Breast Cancer Genes

On July 12, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article reporting that women who possess the BRCA genetic mutations, known as “breast cancer genes” do not have a higher risk of dying than patients with no BRCA mutations.  The study was completed by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto.

“With the new study, we can offer the reassurance that in spite of a bad profile of prognostic factors in carriers, their survival rate is actually at least as good as for noncarriers,” said Technion researcher Dr. Gad Rennert.

COMMENT:  BRCA1-associated breast cancers tend to occur in younger women, are high-grade and are not estrogen-receptor positive, all factors which are associated with a poorer outcome. In addition, BRCA mutations are more common among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. About 2 percent of all Ashkenazi women carry a mutation in one of these two genes.  Some 60 percent of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi. According to The New England Journal, learning that you have one of the genes in the presence of breast cancer adds little to a clinician’s ability to select a therapy or predict the course of disease.

 

If you have not been tested for the BRAC genes, you may decide to opt out of this testing.  Since the presence of the gene doesn’t make any difference in survival *if* you contract breast cancer, then why would you want to identify a ticking time bomb living in your chest? If you believe (even a little bit) that you get what you think about, knowing that you have a cancer gene in your breast tissue just might attract the cancer.

 

The real risk of developing breast cancer if you have one of the genes has been inconsistent in the medical literature. Despite this, many women are opting for testing and bilateral “preventive” mastectomies if they have the gene. While that may give some peace of mind, for others, a better option is close follow up and a plan of action to keep breasts healthy.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Appeal to your insurance company to pay for a baseline MRI, especially if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. 

  • Have semi-annual clinical breast exams and thermograms instead of only annual exams.

  • Take breast healing supplements, such as DIM, calcium-d-glucarate and tumeric.

  • Use a rebounder 10 to 15 minutes a day to keep your lymphatic channels flowing.

  • And think about healthy breasts instead of worrying about getting cancer: Remember the Law of Attraction…you get what you dwell upon.