Breast cancer: Awareness or prevention?

About three-quarters of the biopsies turn out to be benign, so three out of four women endure the fear that they have breast cancer — which is no small fear.

by Dr. Martha Grout — 

Every fall, the landscape turns pink as throngs of women don running shoes in the hope of curing breast cancer. Yet, the money generated from these endeavors has not been shown to impact the fact that one in eight women still gets breast cancer.

Earlier this year, the President’s Cancer Panel released a watershed report entitled, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now.” It says that Americans suffer “grievous harm” from cancer-causing chemicals that have not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program.

Nor have these issues been addressed by most groups who dispense pink ribbons. Why are the fundraising events for the Cure not awash in leaflets about how to prevent cancer by lessening exposure to these everyday chemicals? Prevention is the best cure.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), for example, says its mission is “to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages.” Not a whisper about prevention or chemicals. Not a hint that mammograms are carcinogenic and not a good screening device.


Recently, a national task force recommended less mammography, saying the modest benefit of mammograms must be weighed against the harms — false positives, overtreatment and radiation exposure. Research shows that, although some lives are saved by early detection, many more may be damaged by biopsies and medical intervention applied to tumors that otherwise would disappear spontaneously. About three-quarters of the biopsies turn out to be benign, so three out of four women endure the fear that they have breast cancer — which is no small fear.

The President’s Cancer Panel recommends that we eliminate unnecessary radiation-emitting medical tests. Does it make any sense, then, for the breast cancer awareness groups to beat the drum for an annual mammogram that uses ionizing radiation?


The alternative is thermography. It uses infrared technology, can spot the formation of cancer 10 years earlier than mammography, does not squeeze the breasts (which can spread malignant cells), and there is no problem with dense (fibrous) breasts or implants. Thermography is clearly the better early-warning screening technique.

Cancer cells are different than healthy cells. For one, they use a lot more sugar. For another, they give off a lot more heat.

Chemical and blood vessel activity in the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Cancer cells need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth, and this increased blood flow can raise the surface temperatures of the breast. When a tumor is forming, it develops its own blood supply to feed its accelerated growth, a process known as “malignant angiogenesis.” Pre-cancerous tissues can start this process well in advance of the cells becoming malignant. Thermography measures the skin’s autonomic response to that inflammation — its “heat signature.”

Thermography has a lot going for it — except that it is on the wrong side of the political divide.

The politics of screening

The Breast Cancer Detection and Demonstration Project (BCDDP) of the 1970s was supposed to demonstrate whether thermography could replace mammography or breast examination as a sole screening tool. It was riddled with problems — there were no established reading protocols, and many of the personnel who collected the data were untrained in thermography technique. The data collected were a mess. But the establishment declared thermography a failure anyway. Lobbying efforts brought about the removal of thermography coverage by insurance companies.

Today, most awareness groups have radiologists on their boards; radiologists invested in mammography machines years ago. The Susan G. Komen group has strong ties to General Electric, which manufactures the machines.

The American Cancer Society still solely promotes mammography. If you want to use thermography for screening, you have to pay out of pocket.

The profit of chemotherapy

Cancer cells are different than healthy cells, in part, because they use a lot more sugar. When you have a PET scan, the radioactive agent is combined with sugar water because the cancer cells, always ravenous for sugar, take up the dye and produce an image of where the mass is.

What if you combined a little bit of chemotherapy drugs with sugar? Bingo. It is like targeting the chemo just to the cancerous cells, bypassing the healthy cells. This kind of treatment is called insulin potentiated therapy-low dose (IPTLD). It has been used around the world for 70 years, but it has not been embraced by American oncology. IPTLD uses only about one-tenth the pharmaceuticals of the conventional chemo regimen — which cuts into somebody’s profit line.

Prevention is the cure

As the President’s Cancer Panel made clear, cancer is largely an environmental disease. The Breast Cancer Fund is one of the few groups that does something about it. Their mission: “help to expose and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer. Together we can stop this disease before it starts.” They have an easy-to-read booklet called “State of the Evidence 2010” with lots of information you can download. It should be required reading for anyone concerned about breast cancer.

In February 2009, Miranda Spencer wrote an analysis for of how the major media frequently overlook evidence about cancer-causing chemicals. “Stories about or even mentioning breast cancer’s environmental connections during Breast Cancer Awareness Month were extremely few.”

The good news is that, with every passing year, we understand more about how food, chemicals and electromagnetic fields contribute to cancer so that we can prevent it. We have better technology to diagnose it early — thermography. And we have better treatment — IPTLD.


Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H), specializes in the reversal of chronic disease and makes use of thermography and IPTLD. The Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine: or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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