Increasing doubts about benefits of mammograms

IncreasingDoubtsMammogramsOne of the largest and longest-running studies of mammograms ever conducted has determined that the screening tests do not improve a woman’s chances for surviving breast cancer, reports The Week, in its health and science section.

The findings, which run counter to widespread medical advice that women over 40 should undergo annual mammograms, also found that about 30 percent of cancers detected via mammography and treated with often dangerous chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapies actually posed no threat to the women’s health.

This study “will make women uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable,” University of North Carolina professor of medicine Richard Harris told the New York Times. “The decision to have a mammogram should not be a slam dunk.”

Researchers tracked roughly 90,000 Canadian women between the ages of 40 and 59 for 25 years. Some participants were randomly assigned to have both regular mammograms and breast exams by trained nurses, and others to have breast exams alone; their breast cancer death rates were the same.

The study is bound to trigger further debate, says The Week, since its results are at odds with American Cancer Society data suggesting that mammograms help to reduce the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15 percent for women in their 40s and by 20 percent for older women.

However, many smaller studies challenging the validity of mammogram screening have been reported in numerous medical journals for years, including The Lancet Review, the British Medical Journal, the Archives of Internal Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Johnnie Ham, Medical Director of Coastal Prestige Medical Services in Pismo Beach, California, says that mammogram readings are incorrect 80 percent of the time, especially in women who have ‘dense’ breasts (40 to 50 percent), and frequently result in over-diagnosis and over-treatment leading to disfiguring surgery, immune system- damaging levels of radiation and chemotherapy, and even spreading of cancer and damaged breast tissue from the mammogram compression process.

Dr. Ham’s advice is to be your own health advocate, do your own research and always ask questions before agreeing to any therapy or treatment, screening and/or procedure.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *