Mainstream news beginning to question value of mammogram

February 23, 2012

Breast health, Thermography, Women

A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that mammography screening might save only one person for every 2,500 screened.

by Mary Budinger — 

From the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® organization to the American Cancer Society, everyone preaches that women need to get annual mammograms because the screening saves lives — right? Well, think again.

A recent analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that most women who discover breast cancer as a result of regular screenings have not had their lives saved by the test.

Two researchers from Dartmouth University, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch and Brittney A. Frankel, stated that of the 138,000 women found to have breast cancer each year as a result of mammography screening, 120,000 to 134,000 are not helped by the test. In fact, the researchers concluded that in cases of screen-detected breast and prostate cancer, survivors were more likely to have been overly diagnosed, than actually helped by the test.

The New York Times published an article on this same analysis that stated, “The notion that screening mammograms are not helping large numbers of women can be hard for many women and breast cancer advocates to accept. It also raises questions about whether there are better uses for the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on awareness campaigns and the $5 billion spent annually on mammography screening.”

Could there possibly be anyone left in America who is unaware that breast cancer is a problem? A big stack of evidence says the causes of cancer are mostly environmental — pesticides and nutritional deficiencies rank high on the list. Money spent on prevention will pay big dividends, but so far, most breast cancer organizations have business sponsors who profit from treatment, not prevention. Mammography screening is not prevention. Doing nothing but waiting for the detection of the disease is not prevention.

Case in point: Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. Go to the bottom of their home page and find the search box, then type in “carcinogen.” What comes up is: “Your search did not return any results.”

On the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website, you will find three articles which merely warn against smoking and saturated fat. Not a word about the wide array of environmental toxins solidly documented by the non-governmental Breast Cancer Fund, which regularly updates their user-friendly booklet called “The State of the Evidence.” The information is out there; it is just that prevention is not the focus of mainstream breast cancer awareness groups.

A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that mammography screening might save only one person for every 2,500 screened. Despite a growing number of studies reporting that mammograms are highly overrated, last summer, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a new set of guidelines that call for women to get more mammograms than ever before and beginning at an earlier age.

As Dr. William Campbell Douglass said, “The only people who stand to gain from these unnecessary tests are the doctors who prescribe and perform them.”

Zeneca Group, a pharmaceutical subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries and manufacturer of the blockbuster breast cancer drugs Arimidex® and tamoxifen, founded the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985 in order to promote the widespread adoption of X-ray mammography. Yet AstraZeneca’s best-selling cancer drug, tamoxifen, is actually classified by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen.

The one thing the American Cancer Society says will cause cancer is radiation. A 2004 British study concluded that the risks of radiation “associated with mammography screening may be approximately five times higher than previously assumed and that the risk-benefit relationship of mammography exposures may need to be re-examined.”

Exactly how the radiation from mammography can trigger cancer was described by Berkeley Lab cell biologist, Paul Yaswen. “By getting normal cells to prematurely age and stop dividing, the radiation exposure created space for epigenetically altered cells that would otherwise have been filled by normal cells,” Yaswen explained. “In other words, the radiation promoted the growth of precancerous cells by making the environment that surrounded the cells more hospitable to their continued growth. Many in the cancer research community, especially radiobiologists, have been slow to acknowledge and incorporate in their work the idea that cells in human tissues are not independent entities, but are highly communicative with each other and with their microenvironment.”

The medical community has been very reluctant to move on. Renowned author and health advocate Burton Goldberg asked: “Could it be that mammography has become an industry in its own right? Is it too financially entrenched to be thwarted by logic and common sense? The radiologists have the monopoly and, in my opinion, do not want to give it up to good science.”

Thermography, on the other hand, does not use radiation and can zero in on the formation of cancer, perhaps eight to 10 years earlier than mammography. Thermography measures the “heat signature” of a tumor’s growth — it can detect its formation before a lump is seen or felt. (A tumor must grow to about the size of a pea before it becomes visible on a mammogram.) It is the method of choice in screening for breast disease in most developed countries. However, the American medical establishment invested in mammography machines, so mammography has been promoted for decades.

Carole Baggerly, director of GrassrootsHealth, singles out one of the easiest tools of prevention: “When you can project that fully 75 percent of breast cancer could be prevented with higher vitamin D serum levels, there is no justification for waiting to take preventive measures such as getting one’s vitamin D level up to the recommended range of 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L).”

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about complementary and alternative medicine. 602-494-1999.


Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 6, Dec/Jan 2012.

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