Mammograms: Is There a Down Side?

By Mark Taylor

In November 28th, 1995, the Yarmouth Vanguard reported that "all consensus groups...clearly recommend [mammogram] screening...". This is not true. There is a definite down side to mammogram testing that health representatives are disinclined to reveal to patients. This is clearly indicated by the Yarmouth Vanguard's absence of mammogram dangers in its full-page mammogram article. One-sided, low-quality health information is typically representative of the medical community in its relations with the public.

The recovery rate from breast cancer is no better now than it was in 1940. The truth is that there is no Allopathic treatment for breast cancer.

There are Alternative health responses to breast cancer but the medical establishment has never invited a comparison to find the most efficacious method. Historically, Alternative health methods invariably out-perform Allopathic methods. Alternative health survivors of breast cancer, indeed, of all other cancers too, are not allowed to participate in hospital self-help groups. Alternative health survivors are bad for business.

Mammograms are dangerous. Mammograms expose your breasts to harmful radiation. One of the largest mammogram studies ever initiated had to be cancelled because the mammogram group of women developed more cancer than the non-mammogram control group. This study is dismissed now because it was done in the early 70's and radiology has greatly progressed since then [they say].

You should know that radiation, including all x-rays, are cumulative upon the body. Perhaps the x-ray equipment is finely calibrated now and that the risk is lower than it was, but what about all of your past x-rays? You are probably over 50 years of age ... what about all those x-rays you have received prior to 1980 when they told us all that x-rays were largely harmless? The radiation doses used then were far greater than they are now. All those dental x-rays, chest x-rays, foot x-rays, standard medical checkup x-rays. Did you ever play outdoors or eat fruits and vegetables between 1951 and 1963? The US alone exploded 214 above ground nuclear bombs during this period. There is a reason why all above-ground testing was banned--life expectancy the world over leveled off or dipped. Have you flown frequently? Air travel involves increased expose to radiation.

One of the best mammography studies is currently under way in Canada right now. It is the early results from this study that has made the greedy medical industry stop recommending that women 40-50 years of age be tested on a yearly basis. (The US however doesn't acknowledge Canadian tests and has not changed its recommendation of yearly testing for the 40+.) The medical industry loves to make false safety claims about dangerous products. The Canadian study definitely showed that mammography caused more cancer deaths than it prevented in this age group.

The Canadian study is also showing that mammography does not reduce deaths in the 50 - 55 age group, either. This is understandable as no study (past or present) has shown that mammography testing reduces breast cancer deaths over that of a basic self-examination or physician examination.

It is often cited (as it was in the Yarmouth Vanguard) by those in the mammography testing business that it reduces breast cancer mortality by 30%. This is a deliberate obfuscation of the facts designed to make you take that mammography test. It is a complicated statistic that they know ordinary people will interpret incorrectly (in favour of a mammography test). The same 30% reduction in cancer mortality can be obtained by correlating breast cancer deaths with automobile ownership, or with backyard size, or with dollar income, or with smoking, or with number of dresses owned, etc.. It is a "percent of correlation" number and 30% is very, very, very low. In fact, it should not be used as a basis upon which any decisions are made. Here is a truly legitimate number for you -- NOT wearing a bra will reduce your chances of getting breast cancer by 2100% (that's two THOUSAND one hundred percent!!). This is almost never mentioned because it doesn't sell drugs or keep an army of medical personnel employed. Allopathic medicine is not into the prevention of disease but is instead into detection and treatment of disease. It is not in their best interest to teach you prevention.

If mammograms are both useless and dangerous, why then does the medical community continue to use it and other "heroic" cancer practices? The answer as to why they behave so caustically toward patients has been given many times in the history of medicine with the only difference now being that they have legally suppressed a citizen's right to choice in health care.

Before you decide to have a mammogram make sure you have been told of the risks in advance. Get the facts (the truth is out there) and then make your own conclusions. I highly recommend the book, Take Charge of Your Body by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco. Dr. DeMarco describes all the major breast cancer & mammography studies AND gives both sides of the various arguments so that you may make an informed decision. Dr. DeMarco writes columns for major newspapers all across Canada. Take Charge of Your Body is available at your local health food store. Please, don't make the mistake of letting medical personnel make your decision for you--they get paid but you have to live with the consequences.

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