I've written many articles on the hazards and drawbacks of mammograms, which include:
• The risk of false positives. Besides leading to unnecessary mental anguish and medical treatment, a false cancer diagnosis may also interfere with your eligibility for medical insurance, which can have serious financial ramifications
• The risk of false negatives, which is of particular concern for dense-breasted women
• The fact that ionizing radiation actually causes cancer and may contribute to breast cancer when done over a lifetime.
Results published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) show that women carrying the BRCA1/2 gene mutation are particularly vulnerable to radiation-induced cancer1
• The fact that studies repeatedly find that mammograms have no impact on mortality rates
As so expertly demonstrated in the video above, created by Dr. Andrew Lazris and environmental scientist, Erik Rifkin, Ph.D., it's easy to misunderstand the benefits of mammograms.
Mammograms are said to reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer by 20 percent, but unless you understand where this number comes from, you'll be vastly overestimating the potential benefit of regular mammogram screening.
Most doctors also fail to inform patients about the other side of the equation, which is that far more women are actually harmed by the procedure than benefit from it.
1 in 1,000 Women Is Saved by Regular Mammogram Screening While 10 Undergo Cancer Treatment for No Reason
Incredible as it may sound, the 20 percent mortality risk reduction touted by conventional medicine actually amounts to just 1 woman per 1,000 who get regular mammograms. How can that be?
As explained in the video, for every 1,000 women who do not get mammograms, 5 of them will die of breast cancer. For every 1,000 women who do get mammograms, 4 will die anyway.
The difference between the two groups is 20 percent (the difference of that one person in the mammogram group whose life is saved). On the other side of the equation, out of every 1,000 women who get regular mammograms over a lifetime:
• HALF will receive a false positive. So while they do NOT have cancer, about 500 out of every 1,000 women getting mammograms will face the terror associated with a breast cancer diagnosis
• 64 will get biopsies, which can be painful and carry risks of adverse effects
• 10 will go on to receive cancer treatment for what is in actuality NOT cancer, including disfiguring surgery and toxic drugs or radiation. Surgery, chemo and radiation are all risky, and dying from the treatment for a cancer you do not have is doubly tragic
All things considered, the evidence seems quite clear; most women should probably avoid mammograms, as they cause far more harm than good.
Many studies have now come to that conclusion, and the most recent research,2 published just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, again hammers home that point.
Harms of Mammography Eclipse Benefits
For this study, the researchers analyzed U.S. cancer statistics collected by the government in order to estimate the effectiveness of mammography.
By comparing records of breast cancers diagnosed in women over the age of 40 between 1975 and 1979 — a time before mammograms came into routine use — and between 2000 and 2002, three key findings emerged.3,4,5,6,7,8
• The incidence of large tumors (2 centimeters or larger) has declined, from 68 percent to 32 percent
• The number of women diagnosed with small tumors has increased, from 36 to 64 percent
• The incidence of metastatic cancer, which is the most lethal, has remained stable
This may initially sound like good news for mammograms, but in absolute numbers, the decrease in large tumors was actually rather small — a mere 30 tumors less per 100,000 women.
Meanwhile, the dramatic increase in small tumors was mostly attributed to overdiagnosis — an estimated 81 percent of these small tumors did not actually need treatment.
The fact that metastatic cancer rates remained even suggests we're not catching more of them, earlier. Instead, we're catching and treating mostly harmless tumors.
The researchers also found that two-thirds of the reduction in breast cancer mortality was attributable to improved treatment, such as the use of tamoxifen. Breast cancer screening only accounted for one-third of the reduction in mortality.
Lead researcher Dr. H.Gilbert Welch explains the findings of the study in the video above. As reported by WebMD:9
"The upshot, according to Welch, is that mammography is more likely to 'overdiagnose' breast cancer than to catch more-aggressive tumors early. What's more, the researchers said that while breast cancer deaths have fallen since the 1970s, that is mainly due to better treatment — not screening.
Welch noted the current study's findings have nothing to do with women who feel a lump in the breast. 'They need to get a mammogram,' he stressed. But, Welch suggested, when it comes to routine screening, women can decide based on their personal values."