Setting the Record Straight About Mammograms

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I discussed breast cancer without addressing mammograms — but this isn’t because I want to remind you to get yours.

There are a few major reasons for this:

There is no solid evidence that mammograms save lives. In fact, research demonstrates that adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone. This is ESPECIALLY true for women under 50 with no breast cancer risk factors as even conventional experts advise this.

A mammogram uses ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer. Mammograms expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray, which we know poses a cancer risk. In fact, research in the journal Radiology, reported that annual mammography screening of 100,000 women from age 40-55, and biennial screening after that to age 74, would cause 86 radiation-induced cancers, including 11 fatalities and 136 life years lost.

Mammograms carry a first-time false positive rate of up to 6 percent. False positives can lead to expensive repeat screenings, exposing you to even more radiation, and may result in unnecessary invasive procedures including biopsies, unnecessary surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and devastating false diagnoses.

So why does the American Cancer Society advise women age 40 and older to have a screening mammogram every year, and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health, even despite updated guidelines set forth by the U.S.

Preventive Services Task Force, which state that women in their 40s should NOT get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer?

ACS’ role in the promotion of mammography is far from altruistic, as they have numerous ties to the mammography industry itself:

Five radiologists have served as presidents of ACS

ACS commonly promotes the interests of mammogram machine and film manufacturers, including Siemens, DuPont, General Electric, Eastman Kodak and Piker
The close ties help explain why ACS commonly runs advertisements urging women to get mammograms, even going so far in one ad as to promise that early detection leads to a cure “nearly 100 percent of the time.” But mammograms do not prevent nor cure breast cancer any more than an x-ray of your arm prevents you from breaking it or helping a broken bone heal!

I do recommend breast cancer screening, self breast exams, and on occasion, mammography.

What Can you do to Prevent Breast Cancer?

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women, and one in eight will develop it during her lifetime. Cancer rates are climbing uncontrollably, and costs are quickly becoming unsustainable, a panel of 37 experts recently reported in The Lancet Oncology.

Unfortunately, while the American Cancer Society widely encourages women to get mammograms, they do not do nearly enough to spread the word about the many ways women can help prevent breast cancer in the first place.

Along with the tips already mentioned above regarding deodorant and bras, a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, and an effective way to manage your emotional health are the cornerstones of just about any cancer prevention program, including breast cancer.

The following lifestyle strategies will also help to further lower your risk:

Radically reduce your sugar/fructose intake.
Normalizing your insulin levels by avoiding sugar and fructose is one of the most powerful physical actions you can take to lower your risk of cancer. Unfortunately, very few oncologists appreciate or apply this knowledge today. The Cancer Centers of America is one of the few exceptions, where strict dietary measures are included in their cancer treatment program. Fructose is especially dangerous, as research shows it actually speeds up cancer growth.

Optimize your vitamin D level.
Ideally it should be over 50 ng/ml, but levels from 60-80 ng/ml will radically reduce your cancer risk. Safe sun exposure is the most effective way to increase your levels, followed by safe tanning beds and then oral vitamin D3 supplementation as a last resort if no other option is available.

Maintain a healthy body weight.
This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising using high-intensity burst-type activities like Peak Fitness. It’s important to lose excess weight because estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue, may trigger breast cancer.

Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as those from krill oil.
Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.

Avoid drinking alcohol, or limit your drinks to one a day for women.

Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months.
Research shows this will reduce your breast cancer risk.

Watch out for excessive iron levels.
This is actually very common once women stop menstruating. The extra iron actually works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals and raising your risk of cancer. So if you are a post-menopausal woman or have breast cancer you will certainly want to have your Ferritin level drawn. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce it.

Please note that these statistics are for the USA, but they remain very similar to those statistics for Canada. It is always a good idea to know where the information is coming from, and although the stats may be a tiny bit different, the basis of the information remains the same.

As always your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to share ideas, thoughts, and suggestions in the comment area.

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