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Mammograms, more ….

Mammograms: What For, Exactly?

Posted By Dr. Ben Kim on Jan 23, 2005

If you’re still going for a mammogram screening once every year or two years, please consider the following:

  1. A routine mammogram screening typically involves four x-rays, two per breast. This amounts to more than 150 times the amount of radiation that is used for a single chest x-ray. Bottom line: screening mammograms send a strong dose of ionizing radiation through your tissues. Any dose of ionzing radiation is capable of contributing to cancer and heart disease.
  2. Screening mammograms increase the risk of developing cancer in premenopausal women.
  3. Screening mammograms require breast tissue to be squeezed firmly between two plates. This compressive force can damage small blood vessels which can result in existing cancerous cells spreading to other areas of the body.
  4. Cancers that exist in pre-menopausal women with dense breast tissue and in postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy are commonly undetected by screening mammograms.
  5. For women who have a family history of breast cancer and early onset of menstruation, the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer with screening mammograms when no cancer actually exists can be as high as 100 percent.

A large-scale screening study published in September of 2000 by epidemiologists at the University of Toronto revealed that monthly breast self-examination following brief training, coupled with an annual clinical breast examination by a trained health care professional, is at least as effective as mammography in detecting early tumors, and also safe.

Since we know that properly performed breast exams are just as effective at detecting early tumors as mammography, how can we justify the use of screening mammograms when we know that all forms of ionizing radiation increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease?


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