5. Radiation kills.
We’ve learned over decades of research and observation that exposure to certain forms of radiation is detrimental, cumulative, and causes cancer over time.
That’s why dental hygienists put a lead apron on you and step behind a wall when you have your teeth X-rayed. Radiation from annual mammograms has been shown to induce breast cancer (and sometimes subsequent death) in women. (13, 14) Risk increases with the number of mammograms. (15)
6. Cancer screening reduces the availability of resources for high-risk women.
With the significant harms and no benefit of routine mammograms comes a cost, not only of money but resources—the people and technology involved in performing the test, analyzing the results, and dispensing the (potentially unnecessary) treatment. Add to that the impacts on women who take part in regular cancer screening: emotional and financial hardships and strained interpersonal relationships.
Weighing the cost/benefit of mammography, resources would be better used to monitor women at high risk of developing breast cancer, to spend time with women who notice persistent changes in breast tissue, and to allow greater availability of healthcare professionals and institutions for treatment of confirmed breast cancer.
7. Information available to the public is skewed.
Bias on the part of medical professionals is clearly on the side of conventional breast cancer screening and treatment. It’s hard to un-learn what you’ve been taught. A physician who recommends a mammogram for regular “preventive” care may not tell you about the potentially harmful side effects of this procedure; the compelling clinical evidence about the questionable efficacy of mammography to aid in the detection of breast cancer (leading to acceleration of often harsh treatment protocols); and the assumption that mammography prevents mortality for women who test positive. The pros and cons of mammography are not often provided together on websites and other information sources.
This may be the first time you ever heard that regular mammograms can be bad for you and return no significant benefit. Without being too cynical, consider that revenue generated by the cancer industry is in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year. (16, 17, 18)
Worldwide, cancer is the most expensive disease to treat. (19) Additionally, many millions of dollars are spent in the name of cancer research (often funded by pharmaceutical companies). (20) These costs continue to rise each year and the corresponding corporate interests’ net worth increases along with them. (21)
Turning the tide away from potentially harmful screening tests and unnecessary treatments requires that consumers (not healthcare providers) educate themselves rather than relying completely and absolutely on their doctors. This is true in every context, not only breast cancer.
Take time to listen to your body, know your options, the risks and benefits, and don’t be too intimidated to discuss your health with your provider from a basis of knowledge. If you’re concerned about the health of your breast tissue you can always consider thermography as an alternative screening exam.