So the truth is finally out – but I don’t remember seeing the story hitting main stream media headlines here in Australia, or for that matter, notice boards in our local Health Clinic or Doctors Waiting room. The opposite is the reality.
Women are still being urged to have mammograms. This is a typical media example from Tasmania Australia:
Breast Screen Tasmanian today launched a new advertising campaign to encourage women to be screened for breast cancer.
The new television advertisements, timed to coincide with Mother’s Day on 13 May, will screen for the first time this Sunday and run for two weeks.
“Screening mammograms are the best way of detecting breast cancer early,” said Gail Ward, the State Manager of Cancer Screening and Control Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.
What is the matter with these people? Do none of them follow what is happening in the world around them?
In a moment of unprecedented candor for an official of the normally message- disciplined American Cancer Society, Otis Brawley, its chief medical officer, made a startling admission. In a New York Times interview, he said, “I’m admitting that American medicine has over promised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.”
This blog today is referencing from a Bloomberg three-part article: In Mammogram Debate, Politics Trounces Science and Shaky Foundations for the New Mammogram Economy, with When a Mammogram Is Riskier Than Cancer. It asks questions your doctor ought to have been asking but didn’t, and your Government Health regulators also failed to ask. Maybe after reading this and doing a little research yourself – you will ask the right questions.
Women have been promised that a cure for cancer was imminent, and that by having an annual or bi-annual mammogram they could save themselves from the horrors of breast cancer. Early Detection is the By Word of the industry. Early detection can save you from death! Don’t forget that in 1971, President Richard Nixon announced the War on Cancer and promised a cure by the 1977 bicentennial. In that 30 plus years more and more people have died from cancer, it seems to multiply every year.
Brawley was responding to an article that had just been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which researchers argued that 20 years of widespread breast and prostate cancer screening had failed to deliver the promised health benefits. In both cases, screening had led to a huge increase in the incidence of early-stage disease, with only a very slight decrease in late-stage disease. This is significant because the basic rationale for screening has always been that identifying and treating more early-stage cancers will lower the number of late-stage cancers. That this has not happened suggests that screening detects many nonaggressive cancers that would not have progressed if left undetected. The practical result of large-scale screening, in other words, was over diagnosis and over treatment.
According to Dr. Mercola:
Many women are completely unaware that the science backing the use of mammograms is sketchy at best. As was revealed in a 2011 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews4, mammography breast cancer screening led to 30 percent over diagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent.
“[F]or every 2,000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years,one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings. It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm.” [Emphasis Dr. Mercola’s]
Another study, published in 2010, concluded that the reduction in mortality as a result of mammographic screening was so small as to be nonexistent—a mere 2.4 deaths per 100,000 person-years were spared as a result of the screening5.
For example, if something abnormal / unusual shows up on a mammogram, women then must undergo a biopsy to take a small amount of tissue which is then sent off for analysis to see if it is cancerous. Dr. Mercola tells us:
The problem is that early stage cancer like ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S., can be very hard to diagnose, and pathologists have a wide range of experience and expertise. There are no diagnostic standards for D.C.I.S., and there are no requirements that the pathologists doing the readings have specialized expertise.
Mammography Also Misses 20-40 Percent of Cancers
There’s also the risk of getting a false negative, meaning that a life-threatening cancer is missed. It’s important to realize that a negative mammogram does not equate to a clean bill of health. All a negative mammogram can tell you is that IF you have cancer, it hasn’t grown large enough yet to be detected. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI):
“Overall, screening mammograms miss up to 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening.”
This is particularly true for women with dense breast tissue. Forty-nine percent of women have high breast tissue density6, and mammography’s sensitivity for dense breasts is as low as 27 percent7—meaning as many as 75 percent of dense-breasted women are at risk for a cancer being missed if they rely solely on mammography. Even with digital mammography, the sensitivity is still less than 60 percent.
Are you aware that Mammography misses up to 15 percent of cancers that are present (false negatives) and finds many things that are not cancer (false positives). What’s more, some of the cancers it finds could have safely gone undetected without affecting the woman’s life or health (over diagnosis).
So what is a women’s alternative to mammography? Is there one and is it both safe and effective?
For many years we have been reading about thermal imaging as a viable and safer alternative to mammography. In Australia it is not approved of by the Government Health Regulator, who obviously does not follow what is happening in the rest of the world.
“Each mammogram (which delivers 1 rad of ionizing radiation) increases risk of breast cancer by 1%. So if you follow the “expert” recommendation to get a mammogram every year after you turn 40, by the time you are 50, you’ll already have increased your chance of getting breast cancer by 10%.”
Thermography is a painless, non invasive, state of the art clinical test without any exposure to radiation and is used as part of an early detection program which gives women of all ages the opportunity to increase their chances of detecting
breast disease at an early stage. It is particularly useful for women under 50 where mammography is less effective.
I seriously doubt your local doctor or clinic will give you this information – at least here in Australia, because The National Advisory Committee to the Breast Screen Australia program does not recommend the use of thermography for the early detection of breast cancer.
I am a great advocate for telling people to follow the dollar. I know that sounds so cynical, but just look at the number of so-called ‘Cancer Foundations’ there are around the world, collecting money to be fed into research to find the cure. I expect everyone on the planet is aware of PINK RIBBON’s for Cancer Research and Cure…. I go into my local GP’s clinic and the entire reception is plastered with them at that time of the year and the supermarket is selling them too. There are Morning Tea’s/Coffee’s and gatherings, fun runs and walks too, all collecting money for the cure!
If billions of dollars are collected and donated, how come no cure has yet been found? How come they promote the necessity of mammography for prevention and early detection? Where does all that money actually go?
Dr. Mercola tells us: Unfortunately, this cause is noble only in appearance; in reality, the multimillion-dollar company behind all those pink ribbons — the Susan G. Komen Foundation – uses less than a dime of each dollar to actually look for a breast cancer cure… and that’s just the surface of the problem…
I know there are women whose lives have been saved through early detection of cancer in their breast. I personally have two Dear Friends who slide perfectly into that category and I am grateful they are here with me today to share their experiences with me and others.
But I do believe that as with many other areas in our lives, we have been mislead by the nose, by people/industries who are more concerned with making money than with saving lives.
‘First do no harm’ was the code by which I always believed medical practitioners chose to operate . I read recently this is actually does not appear anywhere in the Hippocratic Oath, how unfortunate!
Like millions of other’s I used to put my complete trust in doctors and policemen and gulp – ministers of religion. That was how I was brought up. These people were bastions of society and I could turn to them, they were trustworthy and had high integrity. Age and experience has taught me otherwise. The same can be said of politicians too!
I often wonder why it is that as adults we still act as children with blind faith and blind trust. Isn’t it time we learned to do our own thinking, our own reading and our own research, so that we can form our own opinions.
Money makes the world go around. What do you think would happen if suddenly the television broadcast the story about all the false positives and negatives that occur every year to women who, trusting their doctor, booked in for an annual mammogram? If the TV presenter explained to the public how much radiation you are receiving, and the implications of that causing the cancer you are trying NOT to get!
I imagine millions of woman would stop booking those Mammograms and maybe they would start considering alternative scanning such as Breast Thermography. A huge industry has been built around those annual Mammograms. There would be a huge loss of money going into that no longer needed industry OUTCH! Yes I know I am a skeptic!
Please do yourself a big favor and read and learn and ask questions, expecting answers from credible sources. Don’t allow yourself to be dumbed down and spoon-fed with advertisements from those who have financial interests and investments in the industry. This is your body, this is your health – YOU are ultimately responsible for the outcome.