The Breast Cancer Industry Is Deceiving Women

April 22, 2014
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Are regular mammograms doing more harm than good? Let’s take a look at the science.

For the past two decades, controversy has swirled around the question of the benefits of mammography. Unfortunately, breast cancer is a huge and thriving industry, and its powerhouses have lined up squarely in support of mammography:

But what does the science say? This past February, a twenty-five-year-long Canadian trial found no difference in death rates from breast cancer among women who had regular mammograms and those who did not.

The American College of Radiology immediately trashed the study, calling it “incredibly flawed and misleading.” The ACR’s self-interested reaction dismayed many, particularly Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the highly respected Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He published a scathing opinion piece via CNN blasting the ACR, and fuming that “it’s time to get the science back in screening mammography and to recognize that mammographers may not be the ideal source for balanced information.” Well said, Dr. Welch!

But mammograms aren’t merely useless—they could very well be harmful. First, they may increase your risk of cancer by subjecting you to unnecessary radiation and by abusing breast tissue. Second, they’re inaccurate to the point of being downright dangerous. According to the National Institutes of Health, 90% of abnormal mammograms are false positives; even a staunch proponent like Komen acknowledges that the likelihood of getting a false positive over the course of ten screenings is 50 to 60%. Additionally, mammography misses 17% of cancers—that means for every ten breast cancers, two are completely undiagnosed.

A false positive causes more than anxiety—it can cause pain, financial distress, and exposure to risky, unnecessary medical procedures. Women who receive an abnormal mammogram must go through additional mammographic screenings, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging, and even painful tissue samplings via fine-needle aspiration, core biopsy, or excisional biopsy. If there is cancer, biopsy can spread it.

Perhaps the saddest mammogram side effect is over-diagnosis and over-treatment—the treatment of breast “cancers” that most likely would never have resulted in illness or death. Many breast cancers resolve themselves. And treatment itself can endanger your health. Chemo attacks your body and immune system. Radiation pointed at the breast can damage the heart, potentially leading to death years later from heart failure. By then, of course, nobody will associate the heart disease with the radiation that caused it.

So, why promote mammograms if they’re ineffective and expensive? Well, if every woman who is recommended to get a breast exam did so, it puts $8 billion dollars a year into the pockets of the radiology industry.

Conventional medicine is not a unified bloc on this issue. More and more physicians, and even organizations that are typically opposed to integrative medicine such as the United States Preventative Services Task Force are recommending less frequent mammograms.

But if not mammograms, then what? Some kind of screening is necessary. After all, breast cancer is on the rise—in 2012, 1.7 million women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer, up 20% from 2008. And one in eight American women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Although these figures are skewed by over-diagnosis, they still describe a very real threat.

Many integrative doctors recommend thermographic breast screening (thermography) as a safer, more effective alternative to mammograms. Thermography uses no uncomfortable mechanical pressure or ionizing radiation. Instead, it takes a picture of the heat produced by the body, which practitioners study for unusual changes or heat clusters. It can detect cancer up to ten years before a mammogram would, and can even detect cancer before tumors have formed.

The Mammogram Myth may be beginning to crumble, but don’t wait for the dust to settle—talk to your integrative physician about safer ways to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer.

And for more about breast cancer and a popular FDA-approved drug that may be promoting it, see our other article in this issue.

42 Responses to “The Breast Cancer Industry Is Deceiving Women”

  1. Cheryl says:

    I was subjected to two needle biopsies in ten years. Both were false positives. The cost of the last one was almost $10,000!!! I am still paying what insurance wouldn’t cover. The doctors/technicians couldn’t get it right, and I don’t know how many times they cleared the room to x-ray me again. The result…now I have chronic breast pain at the site of the last biopsy. They attempted to pressure me into going back in 6 months for a follow-up mammogram; I declined. The head games they played were unbelievable. They told me I had a problem; I corrected them that I did not have a problem. They then said, well, you might have. I told them now I have a problem… chronic breast pain. We have to manage and be responsible for our own health; all the current health care system is designed to do is to make money.

       1 likes

  2. Myrna says:

    I got both a mammogram and a thermogram; the thermogram showed a “spot to watch.” The mammogram was “clean.” A year later, I asked for an ultrasound of the “spot to watch” and then they did a biopsy. It was cancer of the milk duct, which had just broken through (invasive DCIS). I had the surgery; that was when I was 67 years old. I declined chemo and radiation, as well as anti-hormone treatments. I became a vegetarian, detoxed, took natural supplements and did a special anti-cancer homeopathy (the Ramakrishnan Method from India, which has a 76% success rate with Stage 4 cancers), and I worked on my head in terms of remaining positive, ignoring the doctors’ dire predictions and irritation because I wouldn’t do everything they wanted me to. Today I’m 75 years old and just had another clear thermogram (I’ve given up mammograms) and now feel & look 10 years younger, and know I can live on into very old age if I continue to live cleanly, which I intend to do. In my 8th year of being cancer-free, my doctors are starting to pay attention to my methods, and have started asking ME questions. I tell them to work on THEIR heads!

       7 likes

  3. Breastfeeding for any length of time lowers your risk as well. Breastfeeding for 7 years or more eradicates your chances to 0! I realize that 7 years of breastfeeding isn’t a possible situation unless you have several children, but if more moms made the sacrifice (ha the easier choice actually) to breastfeed there even one child, we might not be seeing such a rise in breast cancer.

       1 likes

  4. Leslie Martin says:

    I disagree completely with this article. If I had waited, I would be dead. I started getting mammograms at 36 because I so many of the risk factors, although no genetic indication. At 41, my mammogram showed cancer, with the cells later identified by the pathologist as “aggressively growing.” My docs were glad to have had my baseline from at 36. Once diagnosed via mammogram, the biopsy is truly painful but essential medical procedure. That mammogram saved my life. I went for my 6-month mammo, then the 12-month, and at the 18-month mammogram, cancer was found in my other breast. I will never be convinced that 40 is too young for this life-saving procedure.

       2 likes

  5. Misty says:

    Life extension posted an article about thermography that wasn’t very promising and they are extremely open-minded about alternative resources. Their article is easy to find. It did not condone necessarily mammograms or ultrasounds specifically. It showed thermography detecting the least despite the claims and it mentioned the radiation of mammograms which I don’t believe it was in complete favor of.

       1 likes

  6. Laura says:

    There is misinformation in this article re: biopsy spreading breast cancer, also that many breast cancers resolve on their own.
    And who is profiting from the promotion of thermography??
    I detected my own lump after being told that I didn’t require a mammogram every year and should only have every two years. One and a half years later I found the lump and it had already gone to the lymph nodes, diagnosis of aggressive cancer. If I’d had a mammogram at one year interval I might have been diagnosed at a much earlier stage and required far less treatment. My late cousin went the no intervention route – died at age 43.
    I belong to an online support group and, contrary to popular opinion, the women that I meet on there are often vegetarians and have been leading very healthy lives prior to breast cancer diagnosis. Sure caught me by surprise – I had never felt or looked better!
    Just want to present a balanced perspective.

       1 likes

  7. David Graves says:

    Medicine today seems to be more about money that Health Care.

       6 likes

  8. Blue Grandmama says:

    Even if mammograms didn’t have the problems enumerated in the article, fragmentation in the medical system would make them questionable. A few years ago, I located a lump in one of my breasts, so I saw my doctor to investigate. He said he thought it was only an enlarged mammary gland, but just to be “safe”, he wanted me to get a mammogram. It was my first, and even though I had read a brief description of the process, I was not prepared for the experience. As the technician tightened down on the females’ counterpart to an “iron maiden”, I tried to tell her that the part of my breast where the lump was located was not included in the image area. She barked at me to keep quiet, because she knew how to do her job. The radiologist then sent a written report to my doctor, saying the breast was normal. Doctors, of course, no longer see the images themselves, as in the old days; they just take the radiologist’s word for it. So even if there had been a cancer amenable to detection by mammography, neither the radiologist nor the doctor would ever have known. The test was a total waste of my time and money. Because responsibility for the process is broken up among several individuals, no one gets a full picture of the patient’s situation. You may be sure that my first mammogram was also my last!

       4 likes

  9. linda says:

    My internist called me stupid because I told him I did not believe in mammograms . He called the
    the thermogram a useless test and said it was worthless. I remember him when he wanted me to
    take the cholesterol meds and my intuition said don’t take that garbage. Statins, real garbage that make big pharma money . I am so glad that we are awakening to some real truths about medicine
    in America.

       4 likes

  10. ACurtis says:

    I am 46 and have never had a mammogram. I have had a thermogram–in my early 40s–and really liked that. My conventional allopathic doctor actually told me that, based on family history, my clean thermogram, healthy lifestyle (!), and recent information concerning the risks of mammograms that I can forget about having a mammogram until I’m 50 (or older). When I told her I was interested in thermograms, she said that was fine, just to make sure she received a copy of the test results.

    There are doctors out there who are “waking up;” I believe they try to help their patients as much as they can, given the parameters they have to work in (i.e., lose their license). I wish there were more of them out there. I have put out the intention to attract these type of allopathic doctors into my life and have been very successful.

    I, too, agree that the body takes care of itself and heals itself if given the correct tools in which to do so. So I will continue to follow my organic Paleo diet and getting rid of toxic substances in my life (body care, household, lawn care, my own Primary Food issues, etc.).

    Really, what it comes right down to is taking personal responsibility for your own life and health. You have to rely on yourself–not someone else–to stay healthy. Alternative healthcare doctors are wonderful, but even then, I have caught a fair number of them giving me the wrong information (I am studying to be a certified health and wellness coach).

    Always question and think and research. It’s your life.

       4 likes

  11. ellice says:

    I agree their is an extreme over diagnosis of brest cells, tissue etc in women.. when i went thru menopause, so many of my friends had breast tissue biopsy and none of them had cancer but very profitable work. .Sadly this over diagnosis and over testing extends thru out the medical field and yet often the basic care and proper treatment is missed.This will become even worse with affordable care act, high premiums and less access to all specialties and less treatment in the medicare and medicaid programs.
    . its obscene we spend the most per capita for health care for each citizen versus the rest of the world but we we don’t live as long as other nations(mortality) and we are a lot sicker ( morbidity)with chronic illness.: how you compare health care outcomes
    we will never have across the board breast cancer or other cancers good resolution rates as the pharmaceutical industry makes obscene profits from this and the cancer patients will naturally do or try anything to survive.. Plus the major fund raisers focus on raising money not providing basic care and information.( the war on heart disease has had tremdous progress over the years while very little to show on the war for cancer.( they don’t even talk about endivomental causes of cancer !)
    as an aside : this goes back to the turn of the 1900s
    The american cancer society was founded by john d rockerfellar : chemical industry baron which became th modern day drug industry and has used by products from his other major resourcde oil; petroleum that is found in medications, : salves, lotions and as part of the preparation drink for colonoscopys etc…( polypropylene glycol : spelling maybe slightly off/
    Drug profits are the best profits in this country and we pay 10x, 100x for medications that the rest of the world.. what a corrupt system!

       4 likes

  12. Billie London says:

    Neither thermography or mammography picked up my 1.5 cm breast tumor, I found it myself by accident. The issue of dense breast tissue needs to be addressed in recommending diagnostic tools. Mammograms do not do a good enough job. In my case my thermogram was picture perfect and falsely reassured me. A suspicious spot on mammogram resulted in 5 more mammograms and 3 ultrasounds and no clear result, because there was no tumor in that breast.

    When I asked for ultrasound for further diagnosis on the lump I found myself the technician was dismissive and kept insisting yearly mammograms were the best tool. It is a good thing I Insisted . I know of others who had similar experiences.
    They have to pay for those expensive machines,; never forget medicine is a for-profit industry in this country.

       13 likes

    • Phil Hughes says:

      Thermography can not detect structure so it is not surprising that it did not find your tumor. Thermography is a test of physiology and as such can only detect function. If thermography did not show any activity in the area of the lump the chances are it is not active.

         4 likes

    • Jane says:

      I have dense breasts as well, and instead of getting a yearly mammogram, I opt for the less invasive ultrasound. It doesn’t radiate you, doesn’t hurt you, and detects cancer much better than a mammogram. It costs a little more, but if you have your doctor write on your script that you have dense breasts and need the ultrasound, it should be covered by insurance. They’ll still bug you to get a mammogram, but just say, “NO”.

         2 likes

    • Talitha Thalya says:

      I have learned that its a waist of time and money. Best to get an ultrasound now and then.
      If mammagram did notice something they would most likely order an ultrasound to determine the nature of the lump…
      Ultrasound is cheaper, safer and more effective in diagnosis.
      I learned this from the one administering my mammagram

         2 likes

  13. ellice says:

    The newer mammogram machines have even higher radiation levels than the prior ones,, the better to increase your risk of cancer and for many women who have dense breasts , the accuracy is even less. for this group and than the issue of how well trained the mds are to differentiate non cancer from cancerous tissue… ( sometimes pressed for time … and than add in when they ask you to repeat it due to unable to read it …. I did get sonograms always with my mammograms as i have dense breast tissue..
    thermography has no discomfort, involved
    I did thermography once and it was a simpler procedure but you need to go back again to establish a base line .. shows different colors which are translate into higher or lower tissue metabolic rates.. …for me more accurate than a mammogram …
    i didn’t have enuf money at the time so i was helped by a group online to pay for it.( unfortuantley i missed the time for the second one to make an accurate baseline)
    I was able than as well as recenly to get a script from a conventional ob-gyn for thermomagrpy ( special risk factors limit my use of mammograms now) but this will be out of pocket now but if you lack funds , search the internet for places that promote this and provide assistance to people..
    mcuh safer and highly accurate and read also by professionally trained personal.
    plenty of information online about it .

       2 likes

    • Many thermographers do their patients an injustice and you are a perfect example. Both thermograms imaging sessions are supposed to be done during the same appointment about 15-20 minutes apart with a temperature shock to look for different responses to the temperature change. Dr. George Chapman in San Diego is one of the world experts and helped develop the proper procedure many years ago. Many want a second appointment for more money but it is also less accuracy. My practice is in San Diego County and Dr. Chapman’s is THE ONLY thermography clinic I will send any of my patients to for this reason

         4 likes

    • Sandra says:

      Billy, your experience is similar to mine. I felt a lump byt the technician and doctor were both dismissive. Tech said he was busy. I said I would wait. after an hour he peaked into the room and said, “I told the tech everything was normal.”. I asked him to feel the lump. Oops!!! I was in Stage III. Don’t let ANYONE dismiss your concerns.

         3 likes

  14. Cindy says:

    I have to wonder why you would want to “detect cancer before tumors are formed”? Might this not also lead to over-diagnosis and over-treatment? Perhaps the body can deal with these pre-cancers and there is no need to know about each one of them and treat for it.

       5 likes

    • Rene says:

      Hi Cindy!

      When suspicious regions are found the most likely treatment will be diet change, detox, etc with follow ups to determine if that is helping. Support to help the body deal with these early detections. The earlier they are found, the easier to treat.

         1 likes

    • I ALWAYS want to diagnose cancer BEFORE tumors are formed as this is the time that I can help the patient’s body reverse them the most easily with diet and immune supplements and detoxification. That is why I love the AMAS test. It is not well understood, but when used correctly it is my best tool to monitor cancers often well before any tumor

         2 likes

  15. Carly T. says:

    Unbeknownst to women in general, there is a large amount of sound evidence opposing the systematic use of mammography. A recent article in the NEJM noted that women have a totally wrong perception of the true benefit of mammography, hence they’ve been unable to make an informed choice about the test. THAT is deception.

    Anyone who wants to get close to the real facts about mammography should read “Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy” (2012) by Peter Gøtzsche, a mammogram scientist, and “The Mammogram Myth” (2013) by Rolf Hefti, an independent investigator.

       8 likes

  16. Alice Moriarty says:

    At age 87 I was diagnosed with DCIS and an immediate mastectomy was advised. Although the various tests done, failed to show aggressive CA my doctor said his experience makes him positive my cancer was aggressive so I had some additional tests (gamma xray for one), and I was scheduled for more, I became ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized. That interrupted my headlong race for a mastectomy. While in the hospital I had time to think. If I had the mastectomy, I could be assured of 5 more years of life. Hey! I was 87. In 5 years I’d be 92 and even if I were otherwise healthy, 92 is a pretty long life. I couldn’t believe this operation would not leave me pretty debilitated even if all went well. After much prayer and thought I decided to “wait and see”. Well here I am, almost 90. The tumor is about a quarter the size it was originally. I feel fine. I’ve been on an aromatase inhibiter. I’m checking in with my oncologist (not the original doctor) yearly and will continue the treatment. Wait and see works for me. What a shame more doctors are not willing to do the same.

       20 likes

    • Shirley says:

      The sad fact is there’s no money to be made by “waiting to see.”

         3 likes

      • Kathryn Caldwell says:

        Thank you Alice for sharing your experience. I too was diagnosed with DCIS last month at the age of 61.
        My doctor recommended immediate lumpectomy, 6 weeks of daily radiation and 5 years of Tamoxifen.
        I said no to that and am on a wait and see stance of active surveillance. I am also taking the formula Protocel 23, that I read about in Tanya H. Pierce’s book, Outsmart Your Cancer, Alternative Non-Toxic
        Treatments That Work. I too prayed and asked God for wisdom and peace about what I should do. I feel
        like He answered my prayer.
        Good luck to you,

           1 likes

  17. Charlotte Edwards says:

    Of the breast cancer patients I’ve personally known, their ‘lumps’ were found by the patient – through palpation. I think mammograms provide far too much radiation.

       7 likes

  18. Razzle says:

    You can bet that if Men had to have their testicles smashed & radiated annually, there’d be a better test approved immediately!!!

       19 likes

  19. Suzanne says:

    Thermography will also diagnose a cancer 8-12 years before i’s ever seen on a mammogram. It’s worth it to me to pay for one although I think that I should be allowed to pick the method I use to do my tests.

       4 likes

  20. Terry says:

    If this article is correct, which I think it is, every woman should ask for the alternative Thermography. I intend to ask my primary doctor. I have long thought we should have cured breast cancer by now but the money coming in is an incentive NOT to have a cure, at least in the near future. While this amount of money is coming in, we can expect things to carry on as business as usual. I understand doctors are the biggest shareholders of medical equipment. Why should anyone even try to find a cure with this amount floating around? It’s like hiring the foxes to watch the henhouse, isn’t it?
    It affects more women than men too. The American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ALL recommend yearly mammograms and are getting younger people (under 40) to get one and the more people the get to have one, the more money they make. It should be a law that at least 90% of all funds collected by donations and at least 50% of mammograms should be given to research and a watchdog group should oversee to see if they are really trying to find a cure. Cancer alone (any kind) has been a boon for all people who own equipment, supplies, hospitals, hospices, surgery centers, medial aids, etc. All these companies have gotten rich for at least the last 30-40 years. It’s past time to stop this and do something different. We Americans should be cancer free and diabetes free now that we are in the 21st century and we deserve better than this.

       11 likes

    • Terry says:

      Why? my comment was not abusive, off-topic, no foul language, no personal attacks an I was not discourteous and uncivil.

         2 likes

    • Dee DeCarlo Pado says:

      I agree with your thorough comment above, in 2005 I was 57 yr and first time diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer (yearly mammogram), was HER2 positive, a 20% rare type being an aggressive mutation cell. Had a suggested lumpectomy, chemo, radiation and year long infusion of Hercepton. Just this past Febuary I, myself, saw a physical change, got checked and tested, AGAIN being a now “new” cancer, estrogen receptive, 80% more common type. Had an immediate mastectomy and going on with my life. BUT, my oncologist got a different lab report…WHY OR HOW COULD THAT BE? He found that yes, I had estrogen receptive type AND HER2 was also present! Now need to go through this chemo journey again…I do believe in mammograms (especially if there is family history, I have NONE, but somehow the ones who are reading these mammograms should really take thier time and know what they are checking…very frustrating! I believe there is a cure…with all the technology in today’s world..REALLY. We, also as patients, have to be our best advocates and ask all the questions and thorouly understand what all the processes are and results and the WHY’s.

         1 likes

    • Connie says:

      There is a proven effective prevention and cure for cancer and heart disease and diabetes. Optimal diet and lifestyle. If they put all that money into making it easier for people to eat healthy and exercise, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the obscene amounts of money go to just the opposite. Everything to make us and our planet sicker. You can find out more about the optimal diet and lifestyle where I did, at http://www.wellness forum.com

         0 likes

  21. Terry Meek says:

    If this article is correct, which I think it is, every woman should ask for the alternative Thermography. I intend to ask my primary doctor. I have long thought we should have cured breast cancer by now but the money coming in is an incentive NOT to have a cure, at least in the near future. While this amount of money is coming in, we can expect things to carry on as business as usual. I understand doctors are the biggest shareholders of medical equipment. Why should anyone even try to find a cure with this amount floating around? It’s like hiring the foxes to watch the henhouse, isn’t it?
    It affects more women than men too. The American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Cancer Society and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ALL recommend yearly mammograms and are getting younger people (under 40) to get one and the more people the get to have one, the more money they make. It should be a law that at least 90% of all funds collected by donations and at least 50% of mammograms should be given to research and a watchdog group should oversee to see if they are really trying to find a cure. Cancer alone (any kind) has been a boon for all people who own equipment, supplies, hospitals, hospices, surgery centers, medial aids, etc. All these companies have gotten rich for at least the last 30-40 years. It’s past time to stop this and do something different. We Americans should be cancer free and diabetes free now that we are in the 21st century and we deserve better than this.

       4 likes

  22. Alfredo Kuba says:

    The U.S. government, its regulatory agencies along with the cancer industry are essentially a large conspiracy to keep the public sick for the sake of big profits. This is a great article but it fails to mention one very important aspect in detail, what are the mayor causes of breast cancer? We have known now for many many years that eating animal flesh, eggs and dairy products contribute to many types of cancers, including breast cancer. We know know that many cancers not only can be prevented but also reversed by eliminating animal derived foods completely and adopting a plant based diet. This is simply not very well accepted in corporate dominated media that it focuses on profits like the radiology, chemotherapy and drug industries.

    Here are a couple of websites for preventing and reversing cancers with healthy plant diets.

    http://www.pcrm.org
    http://www.ravediet.com

       6 likes

  23. Patricia says:

    Thank goodness someone is finally speaking some common sense. Let’s radiate your breast with a mammogram because you’re on hormones and at increased risk to breast cancer, To a lay person the mammogram increases my risk 1000 fold as the radiation never leaves breast tissue. But yet, if you want to receive a prescription for hormones or bio-identical hormones they force you to have a mammogram thus insuring you are at greater risk. We’re told not to x-ray our teeth more than necessary… why because the radiation does not go away ! Keep up the good work. Say “NO” to mammograms.

       6 likes

  24. This is the first time i had read that “many breast cancers resolve themselves.” In all the info out there this is an incredible statement. I have had numerous mammograms only to have to additional shots because of a questionable area. The surgeon would have loved to have biopsied but the radiologist was the one who said that the area had been stable and did not need to be biopsied. But i will certainly be looking into thermography.

       2 likes

  25. Ruby Woo says:

    I wish all conventional mammogram is abolish. They should use the method of these holistic doctors who uses other method that does not give out radiations.

    Seriously they should check with these holistic doctors.

       2 likes

    • Donna says:

      The problem is that insurance will not pay for a lot of holistic/integrative doctor visits or routine breast screening through thermography. I’m struggling with this now; I can get a free, annual mammogram or pay $300+ for a thermogram. It’s very frustrating and seems like a big conspiracy to keep us in the traditional medicine loop.

         0 likes

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