Mammogram Dangers and Safe Alternatives
Cancer screening too often harmful or terribly misleading Popular Science PDF
"I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, "Save the Ta- tas." Believe me... I'm all about "saving the ta-tas" – which is exactly why I've been telling women for years to STAY AWAY from those breast-squashing cancer machines called mammograms.
I've given you plenty of reasons why – and here's another to add to the list...
After just five mammograms, women who are at high risk for breast cancer are 2.5 times more likely to get the disease than those who skipped out on the tests. Women who get mammograms before they turn 20 are also at a higher risk.
I shake my head at the irony. These "high-risk" women, of course, are the same patients who've been told they need MORE screenings because of their supposed risk. And when they DO develop breast cancer, no one thinks to blame the "solution." In fact, they sing the mammogram's praises for catching it early!
The researchers who presented this analysis at a recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America say more study is needed to confirm the link. At least they're predictable.
Truth is, we don't need to waste another minute – or another research dollar – on this.
This is just the latest in a series of reports and studies to confirm the obvious: Mammograms have harmed far more women than they've ever saved. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently advised against mammograms for most women under 50, a huge leap in the right direction.
But already plenty of "experts" are trying to water down the facts with the medical equivalent of gibberish. These doctors are doing everything they can to keep women in fear – not because they're interested in saving lives, but because they're worried about what will happen to their bank accounts when women realize that they've been had.
Don't listen to a word they're saying. They don't have a scientific leg to stand on.
Ladies, the bottom line on this is to stay far from mammograms, no matter what you hear on TV." William Campbell Douglass II, M.D
Adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone.
Mammography does lead to the discovery of smaller, earlier stage tumors, but still does not improve breast cancer survival rates over examination alone.
One possible reason for a lack of survival benefit from mammograms "is that treatment of breast cancer has improved to such an extent that there is no longer any benefit from screening," the study's authors report. In addition, the results "suggest another option for screening women over the age of 50 years: annual physical examination and the teaching of breast self-examination by skilled health professionals."
The Canadian National Breast Screening Study-2 (CNBSS-2) has been following more than 39,000 women assigned either to annual physical examination or examination plus mammography since the mid-1980s.
The authors report the results 11 to 16 years after the start of the study.
Mammography continues to offer earlier detection, however. According to the report, mammography plus physical examination provides a 3.6-year advantage in detection-time over no screening, whereas physical examination provides only a 1.5 year advantage.
Consistent with this 2.1-year lead-time advantage, tumors detected by mammography plus physical examination tend to be smaller and are less likely to have spread to the lymph nodes, the researchers report.
These apparent advantages do not translate into an increased survival rate for women screened with mammography plus physical examination.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute September 20, 2000;92:1490-1499
How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam
- Lie down with a pillow under your right shoulder, and place your right arm behind your head.
- Use the finger pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast.
- Press firmly enough to know how your breast feels. A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal.
- Move around the breast in a circular, up and down line, or wedge pattern (see photo below). Be sure to do it the same way every time, check the entire breast area, and remember how your breast feels from month to month.
- Repeat the exam on your left breast, using the finger pads of the right hand. (Move your pillow to under your left shoulder.)
- Repeat the examination of both breasts while standing, with your one arm behind your head. The upright position makes it easier to check the upper and outer part of the breasts (toward your armpit). This is where about half of breast cancers are found. You may want to do the standing part of the exam while you are in the shower. Some breast changes can be felt more easily when your skin is wet and soapy.
- You can check your breasts for dimpling of the skin, changes in the nipple, redness, or swelling while standing in front of a mirror each month. You should gently squeeze the nipple and check for any unusual discharge.
- If you find any changes, see a licensed health professional right away.
What to Watch for During a Breast Self-Exam?
If you detect any of the following changes, be sure to see a licensed health professional right away:
- A new lump or hard knot found in the breast or armpit
- Dimpling, puckering or indention in the breast or nipple
- Change in the size, shape or symmetry of your breast
- Swelling or thickening of the breast
- Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge, especially any that is bloody, clear and sticky, dark or occurs without squeezing your nipple
- Changes in the nipple such as tenderness, pain, turning or drawing inward, or pointing in a new direction.
- Any suspicious changes in the breasts
Forgive me if you think the below is challenging your opinion of my judgment and taste but I believe that mammograms are mostly overused and due to the damage they inflict, actually obscene.
PREPARING FOR A MAMMOGRAM
"And How Are We Feeling Today?" by Kathryn Hammer (copyright 1993, Contemporary Books). A great book. Hope this inspires you to get it.
Many women are afraid of their first mammogram but there is no need to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for the week preceding the exam and doing the following practice exercises, you will be totally prepared.
Best of all, you can do these simple practice exercises right in the privacy of your own home!
Exercise #1: Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a stranger into the room. Press the bookends against one of your breasts. Smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Set an appointment with the stranger to meet next year and do it again.
More "exercises" but you will now have to buy the book as I had permission then the permission was taken away. Go figure.
POWER OUTAGE DURING A MAMMOGRAM
I actually kept my mammogram appointment.
I was met with, "Hi! I'm Belinda!" This perky clipboard carrier smiled from ear to ear, tilted her head to one side and crooned,
"All I need you to do is step into this room right hereee, strip to the waist, thennnn slip on this gown.
I'm thinking, "Belinda, try decaf. This ain't rocket science."
Belinda skipped away to prepare the chamber of horrors. Call me crazy, but I suspect a man invented this machine. It takes a perfectly healthy cup size of 36-B to a size 38-LONG in less than 60 seconds. Also, girls aren't made of sugar and spice and everything nice.. it's Spandex. We can be stretched, pulled and twisted over a cold 4-inch piece of square glass and still pop back into shape.
With the right side finished, Belinda flipped me (lite rally) to the left and said, "Hmmmm. Can you stand on your tippy toes and lean in a tad so we can get everything?"
Fine, I answered. I was freezing, bruised, and out of air, so why not use the remaining circulation in my legs and neck and finish me off?
My body was in a holding pattern that defied gravity (with my other boob wedged between those two 4" pieces of square glass) when we heard, then felt a zap!
Complete darkness and the power went off!
"What?" I yelled.
"Oh, maintenance is working. Bet they hit a snag." Belinda headed for the door.
"Excuse me! You're not leaving me in this vise alone, are you?" I shouted.
Belinda kept going and said, "Oh, you fussy puppy . the door's wide open so you'll have the emergency hall lights. I'll be righttttt backkkk."
Before I could shout "NOOOO!" she disappeared. And that's exactly how Bubba and Earl, maintenance men extraordinaire, found me, half-naked and part of me dangling from the Jaws of Life and the other part smashed between glass!
After exchanging polite "Hi, how's it going" type greetings, Bubba (or possibly Earl) asked, to my utter disbelief, if I knew the power was off.
Trying to disguise my hysteria, I replied with as much calmness as possible "Uh, yes, yes I did thanks"
"You bet, take care" Bubba replied and waved good-bye as though I'd been standing in the line at the grocery store.
Two hours later, Belinda breezes in wearing a sheepish grin and making no attempt to suppress her amusement, she said. "Oh I am soooo sorry! The power came back on and I totally forgot about you! And silly me, I went to lunch. Are we upset?"
And that, Your Honor, is exactly how her head ended up between the clamps!
I recently learned that a dear friend's daughter felt a lump and was going to get a mammogram when I suggested she get a thermogram instead. She did and the MD who gave the thermogram then expressed concern about the size and referred her to a mammogram facility saying the lump was large enough to justify that. After the mammogram they took a biopsy. I have to wonder about all that. I then recommended that in any event she get to a local Bastyr ND asap.
From one of my newsletter readers. My response in BOLD
I have not had a mammogram in 15 years, I rely on Thermography for my breast screening. I was doing thermo in 1977 in San Francisco. Just curious at age 36.
Studies have shown that mammograms are actually dangerous for women on many levels. Thermography is FDA approved. So why are women still being told to use a less effective way for screening? Too much money has been invested in free standing mammography clinics. My motto if something doesn't make sense, "follow the money." Great insight.
P.S. Love your work and hope in the near future to come to your lovely state (I am from Maine) to partake in your week long training program. I am an RN and the hospital I work at said I could do my "clinical" to achieve the 100 hours of hands-on practicum needed to be fully certified through your program. So it is really nice that I have ready-made clients through the pulmonary program at my hospital. Now , I need to get to you so you can teach me. I see such a need when I work with my patients and I am frustrated that I currently do not have the skills to offer my patients relief. Well said. Look forward to working with you. m
Another customer reader writes:
I have read lots about mammograms and it is a belief of naturopaths and holistic doctors that 50% of breast cancer is CAUSED by the radiation in mammograms. There is 1,000 times more radiation in one mammogram than one chest x-ray. Thermograms are much better at detecting cancer cells in the breast.
On a more grounded and constructive note:
When you develop your breathing you learn how to better feel-fit your brassieres so that they will not constrict your breast circulation. See brassieres and breast cancer.
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