Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Canadian study was recently released and published in the British Journal of Medicine. It concluded from a 25-year follow-up study design that regular mammogram screenings do not reduce death rates from breast cancer.

Mammograms are a commonly accepted screening practice, whereby asymptomatic women have their breasts x-rayed using a specially designed machine. Like all x-rays, mammograms expose women to potentially cancer-causing radiation and for this reason they have long garnered criticism. Current recommendations for women over the age of 50 are to have a mammogram performed every 2 to 3 years.

This brings us to a larger concern with breast cancer awareness. The rise of pink ribbon campaigns and the overwhelming popular support those fundraising efforts call forth has created as a by-product: an environment of fear when it comes to breast cancer. Perhaps for many women the idea that their bases are covered with a regular mammogram is enough to quell that fear when instead we should be striving to get to the root of the problem. Let’s reduce our susceptibility to cancer by leading a healthy life: drinking filtered water, reaching for natural and wholesome foods, exercising and avoiding a diet full of processed foods. We should be doing more as a community to reduce our exposure to environmental toxins and strive to lead a balanced life by putting workplace and family stress at bay with regular healthy breaks.

This recent study is being referred to as ground-breaking, because it admits what some skeptics have thought for years: mammograms are not an effective form of breast cancer prevention and in fact, they are leading to overdiagnosis. Some study participants had mammograms performed, a second group did not. Death rates from breast cancer were not greatly different from those who received mammograms to those who did not. Moreover, there was an overdiagnosis (or misdiagnosis) rate of 22%.

According to the study authors, their findings mean policy makers should urgently re-assess mammography procedures for the use of early detection of breast cancer.

We have long thought of thermography as a way to monitor the functional health of the breast, without exposing the body to harmful radiation. We wait as researchers now, hopefully, turn to ways to improve breast cancer death rates through alternative screening methods but aren’t holding our breath for this discovery in the near future. Instead, we believe in taking matters into our own hands and being proactive about our health. This means leading a healthy lifestyle to reduce our risk, and also monitoring the functional health of our breasts through regular thermography, which can tell you early if there are any disturbances in the health of the tissue that needs to be further examined. Because thermography does not expose the patient to harmful radiation, it can be repeated many times and is ideal for all age groups. We recommend all adult women get a breast thermogram once a year. Examining your results year to year will provide the best data for understanding the health of your breasts. If you would like to explore thermography as an integral part of your yearly breast health plan, please contact us.

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