(NaturalHealth365) Each year in an attempt to thwart cancer before it strikes, millions of women with healthy intentions unknowingly subject themselves to cancer-causing, ionizing radiation via mammogram. But, did you know that many preventive medicine experts suggest against mammography?
A 2012 study, the largest of its kind, featured by the British Medical Journal showed that women carrying the BRCA1/2 gene are twice as likely to develop radiation-dependent cancer. And, this year, a 25 year long, related study concluded that annual mammography in women aged 40-59 does not reduce breast cancer mortality, but rather can negatively influence it and has led to a 22% rate of overdiagnosis of breast cancer.
Diagnostic mammogram fails to deliver on its promise
Dozens of similar studies confirm that mammograms should no longer be the gold standard in breast cancer detection and prevention, but healthcare providers of all types continue to insist that their female patients undergo this harmful test. Why should the liability of uninformed healthcare providers be on your hands as a patient – especially when there is a safer alternative to mammography.
Mammograms have traditionally been used to seek out and detect tumors and lumps of all sizes and types that are potentially cancer-causing. When lumps are detected, they require second and third levels of assessment to confirm malignant or benign status. Many lumps detected are benign, but still leave the patient having been subjected to cancer-causing radiation.
And, many studies reveal that results elicit false-positives leading to overdiagnosis. What’s worse is that mammograms miss approximately 20 percent of potential cancer-causing tumors. Even the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health notes this high level of false-negatives.
Safe preventive testing is available and can save lives
While many healthcare providers will still insist that the levels of radiation from mammograms far outweigh the risk of developing breast cancer, that’s becoming more of a medical opinion rather than a fact. Far safer methods exist as evidenced by the medical literature, but unfortunately many providers either aren’t up to date; don’t regularly review the research or they succumb to the pressure of insurance companies and institutions that make it difficult for providers to have these safer measures covered.
Along with physical examination, functional medical tests, MRI and thermography, I suggest genetic testing for all of my patients, especially if any potential life-altering diseases run in the family such as cancer.
The BRCA 1/2 gene does NOT mean you will get cancer
If a particular health concern exists in your family history you will only come to determine your individualized risk by assessing specific genetic markers and mutations. Genetic testing helps level the playing field and tells the patient, with far more certainty, what types of preventive testing and treatments will best enhance their wellness.
For example, the British study above assessed that persons who have the BRCA1/2 mutation are especially susceptible to cellular damage from radiation. This implies that use of mammography does not outweigh the risk of developing this type of breast cancer, but rather directly contributes to its cause. And, just to be clear, having the BRCA 1/2 gene does not necessarily mean you will get cancer because lifestyle habits greatly determine whether you trigger cancer or not.
Remember, before you subject your body to any medical test, make an informed decision by understanding the short and long term implications on your health.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, epigenetics, food therapy and sustainable living.