Alternative to mammograms
In view of the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations concerning new guidelines for having mammograms, some vital information for women needs to be presented. The new guidelines are for the general population, not those at high risk of breast cancer because of family history or gene mutations.
It has always been known that mammograms carry a significant risk of causing and spreading breast cancer, although this has largely been ignored by mainstream medicine. They can cause breast cancer through repeated irradiation of the breasts and spread cancer by the fracturing of the fibrous capsule surrounding the tumor through compression of the breasts.
A 1999 meta-analysis, “Is Screening for Breast Cancer with Mammography Justifiable?,” was published in The Lancet, the United Kingdom’s premier medical journal, in 2000. It said, “Screening for breast cancer with mammography is unjustified.” This study showed that “for every 1,000 females having mammograms over a 12-year period, the life of one was saved, while the total number of deaths increased by six.” The United States continued to screen with mammography until the new recommendations appeared in the Nov. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Many women are asking themselves, “What should I do now?” The answer is simple: thermography, or digital infrared thermal imaging. This is a true “screening” test that is absolutely 100 percent safe, since it does not require contact with the breasts or use ionizing radiation. It has been approved by the FDA for breast cancer screening since 1982.
Thermography employs an infrared camera that measures the physiology of the breast, not the structures within the breast, as does mammography. The physiology is function rather than structure, more specifically inflammation. Inflammation at any tissue depth will be recorded by the sympathetic fibers in the neurological supply of nerves to that area. This neural information will then be processed through the central nervous system, which will then cause a sympathetic (automatic) response in the area of the skin corresponding to the affected site. Thermographically, the area of hyperthermia seen at the surface of the skin is due to a decrease of sympathetic motor tone (reduced sympathetic function) allowing increased blood flow through the postganglionic gates serving that area. And, all this happens before the presence of a tumor.
In addition, thermography can pick up breast disease eight to 10 years earlier than mammography can pick up a tumor. This happens long before tumor formation, whereas a tumor of a rather large size must be present for mammography to be effective. The bottom line is thermography is preventive, and mammography is no more than “early detection” of an already present tumor.
If any further studies are required for diagnosis, breast ultrasound and breast MRI are the tests of choice, since they are completely safe and do not employ radiation.
Women 21 or older should screen for cancer by doing breast self-examination, clinical breast examination annually and at each doctor’s visit, and thermography.
Alan L. Woods.
Wyckoff, Nov. 17
The writer, a physician, is director of natural health education for the Institute of Natural Health and Wellness in Wyckoff.
Welcome attack on ‘holy grail’
Speaking from the vantage point of a senior citizen, I am thrilled that the U.S. Preventive Task Services Force has issued new guidelines for mammogram screenings.
In the past, whenever I tried to have a conversation with my doctors about the risks of mammography, my questions were answered with anger and belligerence as if I were violating a sacred holy grail.
Now, women can feel free to ask such questions as: Will repeated radiation exposures to the breast pose a cancer risk for premenapausal women under 50?
What about so-called indolent cancers that will never spread and tiny cancers that might go away by themselves? Is it possible that I could be subjected to unnecessary surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and really be healthy?