Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
The Wise Woman Way

by Susun S. Weed
Paperback - 380 pages
Published by Ash Tree Publishing
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Chapter 5.


Mammograms -Who Needs Them?

Excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health! By Susun S. Weed

 

Mammograms aren't safe


Professor Anthony Miller, Toronto National Cancer Institute, says cancer cells may be squeezed into the bloodstream under the pressure of the mammographic plates.11 Screening mammograms are unsafe other ways, too: they expose sensitive breast tissues to radiation, and they increase your chances of having a biopsy and being overtreated for carcinoma in situ.

Radiation Dangers
Scientists agree that there is no safe dose of radiation. Cellular DNA in the breast is more easily damaged by very small doses of radiation than thyroid tissue or bone marrow; in fact, breast cells are second only to fetal tissues in sensitivity to radiation. And the younger the breast cells, the more easily their DNA is damaged by radiation. As an added risk, one percent of American women carry a hard-to-detect oncogene which is triggered by radiation; a single mammogram increases their risk of breast cancer by a factor of 4-6 times.12

The usual dose of radiation during a mammographic x-ray is from 0.25 to1 rad with the very best equipment; that's 1-4 rads per screening mammogram (two views each of two breasts). And, according to Samuel Epstein, M.D., of the University of Chicago's School of Public Health, the dose can be ten times more than that . Sister Rosalie Bertell-one of the world's most respected authorities on the dangers of radiation-says one rad increases breast cancer risk one percent and is the equivalent of one year's natural aging.13

If a woman has yearly mammograms from age 55 to age 75, she will receive a minimum of 20 rads of radiation. For comparison, women who survived the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima or Nagasaki absorbed 35 rads. Though one large dose of radiation can be more harmful than many small doses, it is important to remember that damage from radiation is cumulative. Many women born in the 1930s and '40s-who are now considering the benefits of postmenopausal mammographic screening-have already absorbed quite a bit of radioactivity into their breast tissues from fallout from the atomic bomb tests of the 1950s. (See page18.)

The American Cancer Society claims that the radiation danger from a screening mammogram is no more than that caused by natural radiation in the environment. Not so. The amount of radiation from even one breast x-ray is 11.9 times the yearly dose absorbed by the entire body, according to Diana Hunt, former saleswoman for an x-ray manufacturing company, UCLA Medical Center graduate, and senior staff x-ray technologist for 20 years.14 (See page 18 for a list of rads absorbed while skiing in Denver, flying in an airplane, and other activities often cited as comparable to mammographic screening.)

A study published in the October 20, 1993 issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a statistically significant increase in the incidence of breast cancer following radiation treatment of various benign breast diseases even among women older than 40 at the time of the first treatment.

Treatment Dangers
You increase your risk of being overtreated for breast cancer whenever you have a screening mammogram. Eight out of ten masses detected by screening mammogram are false alarms, but if something is seen in your mammogram you'll be urged to undergo a biopsy.

Read the rest of Chapter 5 (click on any section below)

Mammograms - Who needs them?
All mammograms are x-rays.
Mammograms are inaccurate.
Mammograms can't tell if there's cancer.
Mammograms don't replace breast self-exams.
Mammographic screening increases risk of breast cancer mortality in premenopausal women.
Why I haven't had a baseline mammogram.
Mammograms aren't safe.
Screening mammograms lead to overtreatment.
Screening mammograms don't increase your chances of being cured . . . or of surviving longer.
Mammograms don't find cancer before it metastasizes.
Aren't mammograms life saving for women over 55?
Yearly screening mammograms aren't cost effective to society nor are they safe environmentally.
Is there a less risky way to participate in screening mam-mography?
Mammograms distract us from the need for societal commitment to true prevention.
Are there other ways to find early-stage breast cancers?
Mammograms don't promote breast health.
If You Decide to Have a Mammogram.
Resources

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