Dr. Friedman’s Health Blog

Should Mammograms Be Squashed?

By: Dr. David Friedman

Since the early 1970s, mammograms have been proclaimed as an effective preventive measure against the rising mortality rates of breast cancer. But what if I told you there is evidence that suggests the surge in breast cancer could be linked to the very test touted as a necessary and effective diagnostic tool? That’s not too hard to fathom considering just one mammogram emits radiation that’s equivalent to one thousand chest x-rays! Women who have an annual mammogram for ten years, have been exposed to the same amount of radiation exposure as people that lived one mile away from where the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.[1] There’s no denying it, the high dosage of radiation from mammograms are not cancer prevention friendly. Even The American Cancer Society’s website states that the type of radiation used in mammography causes DNA damage which can lead to cancer.[2] Ongoing research has shown a rise in breast cancer mortality following repeated mammograms in pre-menopausal women.[3] [4] Also, there’s a gene that 2% of all woman carry called the A-T gene (ataxia telangiectasia) that makes them highly sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation. For these millions of females the risks for getting cancer from mammography increases by 400%. By some estimates, this accounts for up to 20 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed annually.[5]

But don’t the risks outweigh the benefits of early diagnosis? Apparently not. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) analyzed 90,000 women ages 40 to 59 and compared those that had annual mammograms with women that did not. Shockingly, a larger percentage of women who received mammograms died of breast cancer during the span of the study than those who didn’t have the test. Over the past three decades, approximately 1.3 million women in the United States have been over-diagnosed. [6] That means they were needlessly treated, not to mention the emotional stress they endured after being diagnosed with cancer! During a Reuters interview, lead researcher of this BMJ study, Dr. Gilbert Welch of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice in New Hampshire stated, “I can’t discount that there may be a tiny fraction of women who are helped by screening, but we can say it is very small – much smaller than conventional wisdom.” [7] Just how small are we talking about? Mammograms only reduce breast cancer death rates by 0.4 deaths per 1,000 women; a number so minuscule it might as well be zero. Put another way, 2,500 women would have to be screened over 10 years in order to avoid one breast cancer death.[8] But for all of those mammograms administered to avoid this one death, it only makes you wonder just how many of the remaining 2,499 will eventually die of breast cancer as a direct result of these tests.

Aside from radiation, mammograms require tight and often painful compression of the breasts. This can lead to lethal spreading of malignant cells due to the procedure rupturing small blood vessels in or around undetected breast cancers.[9] Just like what happens to the contents inside of a pimple after it’s squeezed, the same thing happens when a cancerous lesion is compressed. I find it appalling when I think about all the false positive tests that lead to females undergoing unnecessary and expensive procedures. In spite of all the unfavorable research on mammograms, why does this diagnostic test remain so popular? Follow the money trail. According to an analysis recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, if women begin receiving annual routine screening mammograms at the age of 40, as the American Cancer Society recommends, costs would be close to $10 billion a year.[10] Combine that with the $16.5 billion dollars Americans spend on breast cancer treatments[11] and suddenly a massive Big Pharma cash cow is revealed!

Alternative to Mammography:

Even though scientific evidence supports squashing the use of mammography, it’s still considered the standard of care. However, thanks to the discoveries made by the North Carolina Institute of Technology, a privately funded research center, Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is fast becoming an accepted alternative. DITI is a safe, non –invasive test that does not require mechanical compression or radiation. It can detect signs of a tumor 8 to 10 years sooner than mammography or a physical exam can detect a mass. Keep in mind, technology is not a replacement for the most powerful first line of defense, performing monthly self-exams. Once a woman is familiar with how her breasts look and feel, atypical discoveries will be apparent.

To learn about Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging visit: www.breastthermography.com For information on performing self breast exams go to: www.breastcancer.org

About the Author:

Dr. David Friedman is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Chiropractic Physician and certified Nutritionist. He is an author and contributor for leading health and fitness magazines, radio and television. As health expert on Lifetime Television and host of the syndicated program “To Your Good Health Radio” he shares informative health news with a purpose. www.toyourgoodhealthradio.com


[1] BMJ 2014;348:g366
[2] www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/medicaltreatments/radiation-exposure-and-cancer
[3] Possible Net Harms of Breast Cancer Screening: Updated Modeling of Forrest Report, British Medical Journal, December 8, 2011: 343; d7627
[4] Confirmed: Breast Screenings Cause More Harm Than Good, GreenMedInfo.com, January 5, 2012: Sayer Ji.
[5] Breast Cancer Unawareness Month: Rethinking Mammograms. Huffington Post 10/15/10 Samuel S. Epstein, M.D
[6] Effect of three decades of screening mammography on breast-cancer incidence. N Engl J Med Nov 2012
[7] Study reignites controversy over mammograms. Reuters. Wed, Nov 21 2012
[8] Effect of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Mortality in Norway Mette Kalager, M.D., Marvin Zelen, Ph.D., Frøydis Langmark, M.D., and Hans-Olov Adami, M.D., Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2010;
[9] Watmough, D. J., and Quan, K. M. X-ray mammography and breast compression. Lancet 340: 122, 1992.
[10] Annals of Internal Medicine February 2014, Vol. 160. No. 4
[11] The American Journal of Managed Care. Breast Cancer: Will Treatment Costs Outpace Effectiveness? December 06, 2012

About the Author

Dr. David Friedman is the author of the award-winning, #1 national best-selling book Food Sanity, How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction. He's a  Doctor of Naturopathy, Chiropractic Neurologist, Clinical Nutritionist, Board Certified Alternative Medical Practitioner, and Board Certified in Integrative Medicine.  Dr. Friedman is a syndicated television health expert and host of To Your Good Health Radio, which has changed the face of talk radio by incorporating entertainment, shock value, and solutions to everyday health and wellness issues.

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