Healthy Beginnings

The Dark Side of Breast Cancer Screening

A growing body of research now suggests that x-ray mammography is causing more harm than good in millions of women who subject themselves to breast screenings annually–they do this without knowledge of their true health risks. The primary focus has been on the harms associated with over-diagnosis and over-treatment, not on the radiobiological dangers of the procedure itself.

In 2006, a paper published in the British Journal of Radiobiology, titled “Enhanced biological effectiveness of low energy X-Rays and implications for the UK breast screening programme”, revealed the type of radiation used in x-ray-based breast screenings is much more carcinogenic than previously believed!

Recent radiobiological studies provided compelling evidence that low energy X-rays, as used in mammography, are between four to 600 percent more effective in causing mutational damage (genotoxicity/carcinogenicity) than higher energy X-rays!

This is not the only study to demonstrate that mammography X-rays are more carcinogenic than atomic bomb spectrum radiation. Current risk estimates for radiation-induced cancer (principally derived from the atomic bomb survivor study) are based on the effects of high energy gamma rays.

A more recent study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011, titled “Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modeling of Forrest report”, not only confirmed the previous findings but also found the situation likely worse!

What are the legal ramifications for all the “pink” stuff out there–and the doctors who continue to recommend radiation-based screening in the face of this peer reviewed, published medical research (known since 2006!)?

With the advent of non-ionizing radiation-based diagnostic technologies such as thermography, it has become vitally important that patients educate themselves about the alternatives to x-ray mammography that already exist. Until then, we must use our good sense–and research like this–in order to make informed decisions. As far as the unintended adverse effects of radiation go, err on the side of caution whenever possible.

Please share this article with someone you know or love. Also, share it with your doctor and maybe bring him/her up to date.

1. The Dark Side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,
2. Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modeling of Forrest report. British Medical Journal 2011; 342:d7627. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID:22155336,

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