Mammograms May Contribute to Breast Cancer Risk

Dec 16, 2009 by

Mammograms May Contribute to Breast Cancer Risk

That’s because mammography screening would have to reduce breast cancer mortality by 51 percent to outweigh the risks of the screening procedured for women between the ages of 24 and 29, by 12 percent for those between 30 and 34, and by 4 percent for those between 30 and 34. If their assumptions are right, the researchers conclude there is no benefit for mammograms in women under the age of 30 and only a marginal benefit for women between the ages of 30 and 34.

“In the absence of direct empirical data, our estimates can be used by those involved in the decision-making process for BRCA mutation carriers to assess whether the benefits from early mammographic screening are likely to outweigh the radiation risks,” the researchers said in a statement to the media.

The idea that radiation might be harmful to women with this type of genetic breast cancer isn’t new. Back in 2001, an article in Medscape, an on-line journal for physicians and other healthcare professionals, stated “.. it is very likely that a routine mammogram for women with BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 mutations is more dangerous than for women with normal BRCA genes.” What’s more, the article points out that radiation therapy for BRCA-caused cancer, as well as the radiation from mammograms , may cause the malignancy to spread: “When a new tumor does appear in hereditary breast cancer, it may be a second primary (tumor) accelerated by unrepaired radiation damage while diagnosing or curing the first tumor.”

It’s also important to note that other researchers have questioned whether all women — not only those with hereditary breast cancer — are putting themselves at risk with yearly mammograms. For example, research published last fall showed that breast cancer rates soared after regular mammography was started in four Norwegian countries ( In addition, Samuel S. Epstein M.D., Professor Emeritus of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and his colleagues conducted a review of 47 scientific articles about mammography. Their article, “Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography: Breast Examination is a Safe, Effective, and Practical Alternative”, published in the International Journal of Health Services (2001;31(3):605-15) concluded that mammogram screening carries many dangers, including induction and promotion of breast cancer, falsely positive and negative diagnosis of breast cancer, and over-diagnosis.

The researchers noted that a natural way to check for breast cancer has long been available that is at least as effective as mammography — annual clinical breast examination (CBE) by a trained health professional, together with monthly breast self-examination (BSE). On the horizon: a new non-invasive breast cancer test that uses a simple saliva sample

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