By Dr. Bryan Warner
For years, mammograms have been a mainstay of women’s health. But research now casts doubt on whether mammograms are necessary ― or even wise. Studies conducted over the past several years suggest that they might cause harm for more women than they help, thanks to radiation-induced cancers, overdiagnosis and treatment, and false/positive results.
But, you may ask, don’t mammograms save lives?
Last year, a Harvard/Dartmouth study that followed 90,000 women over 25 years led to a startling conclusion: The death rates from breast cancer were nearly identical for women who got annual mammograms and those who did not.
In addition, it turned out that more than one in five women treated for breast cancer were overdiagnosed. They had small, non-lethal tumors that were not a threat to health and did not need radical, harmful treatments such as mastectomies, chemotherapy or radiation.
This finding is in line with other studies. Overdiagnosis rates have consistently ranged between 22 percent and 30 percent.
So what is missing is hard evidence that, in fact, mammograms save lives. A 2010 study found that mammographic screening did not statistically reduce mortality. The following year, another study found that women who received the most breast screenings actually had more instances of invasive breast cancer that those who received fewer screenings.
So What to Do?
Inevitably, these and other studies raise questions about the wisdom of getting mammograms.
Another consideration is the potential effects of mammogram technology itself. Mammography uses ionizing radiation ― a well-known potential cancer-causing imaging technique. Does it really make sense to expose oneself to the risk of contracting cancer in an effort to avoid dying of cancer?
This concern might be overcome by opting to use magnetic resonance imaging instead of ionizing radiation. But there is still the concern about misdiagnosis resulting in needless, destructive treatment.
Based on existing research, it’s a toss-up. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about the procedure. Ask questions. Determine if the facility uses conventional mammography or magnetic resonance imaging. Find out whether or not you fall in the high-risk category. Arm yourself with as much information as possible. Then, before you schedule that next mammogram, weigh the pros against the cons and reach an informed decision.
Don’t get me wrong, I still recommend screening for breast cancer. At a minimum, women (and men) at high risk for breast cancer or past age 40 should have their qualified medical providers do a breast physical exam every 1-2 years. Beyond that is where the controversy lies.
An Ounce of Prevention
Whatever you decide, of course, prevention is always preferable to post-diagnosis treatment, and there are many things you can do yourself to lower your risk of breast cancer.
Following these guidelines could reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 70 percent to 90 percent:
We’ll be glad to talk with you about your concerns regarding breast cancer and/or mammography. You can also get Orthomolecular K2 + D3 (5000 iu), an excellent source of vitamin D. It not only helps reduce your odds of getting breast cancer but also promotes bone and cardiovascular health. Orthomolecular follows best manufacturing practices and uses only the highest quality ingredients.
I also recommend Optimox’s Iodarol tablets as an effective, high-quality source of iodine. This high dose of 12.5mg is more than needed for daily long-term supplementation. Using one tablet daily for up to one or two months is usually okay if your levels are low. My patients use this tablet one-two times per week. Iodarol is available online and is carried by some compounding pharmacies.
Alcohol. Susan G. Komen. http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/DrinkingAlcohol.html. Accessed August 25, 2015.
Flaxseed is recommended for breast cancer in moderation. Food for Breast Cancer. http://foodforbreastcancer.com/foods/flaxseed. Accessed August 25, 2015.
Mercola, J. The Benefits of Curcumin in Cancer Treatment. Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/02/curcumin-benefits.aspx. published: March 2, 2014. Accessed: August 25, 2015.
Mercola, J. Mammograms Again Found to Have No Impact on Mortality. Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/28/mammogrammyths.aspx?e_cid=20150728Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150728Z1&et_cid=DM80749&et_rid=1053124485. Published: July 28, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2015.
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