Mammography poses a wide range of risks of which women worldwide
remain uninformed. Read “Mammography’s Mixed Blessings” by
Seaman and Epstein
Read a press release
on this topic
Radiation from routine mammography poses significant cumulative
initiating and promoting breast cancer (1– 3). Contrary to
that radiation exposure from mammography is trivial— and
similar to that
from a chest X-ray or spending one week in Denver, about 1/ 1,000
of a rad
(radiation-absorbed dose)— the routine practice of taking
four films for each
breast results in some 1,000-fold greater exposure, 1 rad, focused
on each breast rather than the entire chest (2). Thus, premenopausal
women undergoing annual
screening over a ten-year period are exposed to a total of about
10 rads for each
breast. As emphasized some three decades ago, the premenopausal
breast is highly
sensitive to radiation, each rad of exposure increasing breast
cancer risk by
1 percent, resulting in a cumulative 10 percent increased risk
over ten years of
premenopausal screening, usually from ages 40 to 50 (4); risks
are even greater
for "baseline" screening at younger ages, for which there
is no evidence of any
future relevance. Furthermore, breast cancer risks from mammography
are up to
fourfold higher for the 1 to 2 percent of women who are silent
carriers of the A-T
(ataxia-telangiectasia) gene and thus highly sensitive to the carcinogenic
radiation (5); by some estimates this accounts for up to 20 percent
of all breast
cancers annually in the United States (6).
Cancer Risks from Breast Compression
As early as 1928, physicians were warned to handle "cancerous
care— for fear of accidentally disseminating cells" and
spreading cancer (7).
Nevertheless, mammography entails tight and often painful compression
breast, particularly in premenopausal women. This may lead to distant
spread of malignant cells by rupturing small blood vessels in or
around small, as
yet undetected breast cancers (8).
Delays in Diagnostic Mammography
As increasing numbers of premenopausal women are responding to
aggressively promoted screening, imaging centers are becoming
overwhelmed. Resultingly, patients referred for diagnostic mammography
now experiencing potentially dangerous delays, up to several
months, before they
can be examined (9).
1. Gofman, J. W. Preventing Breast Cancer: The Story of a Major
Cause of this Disease. Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, San
2. Epstein, S. S., Steinman, D., and LeVert, S. The Breast
Cancer Prevention Program,
Ed. 2. Macmillan, New York, 1998.
3. Bertell, R. Breast cancer and mammography. Mothering, Summer
1992, pp. 49– 52.
4. National Academy of Sciences– National Research Council,
Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR). Washington, D.
5. Swift, M. Ionizing radiation, breast cancer, and ataxia-telangiectasia.
J. Natl. Cancer
Inst. 86( 21): 1571– 1572, 1994.
6. Bridges, B. A., and Arlett, C. F. Risk of breast cancer
in ataxia-telangiectasia. N. Engl.
J. Med. 326( 20): 1357, 1992.
7. Quigley, D. T. Some neglected points in the pathology of
breast cancer, and treatment
of breast cancer. Radiology, May 1928, pp. 338– 346.
8. Watmough, D. J., and Quan, K. M. X-ray mammography and breast
Lancet 340: 122, 1992.
9. Martinez, B. Mammography centers shut down as reimbursement
feud rages on.
Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2000, p. A-1.
Excerpted from “Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography:
Breast Examination is a Safe, Effective and Practical Alternative”,
International Journal of Health Services, Volume 31, Number 3,
Pages 605– 615, 2001
2001, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc. See the entire article