Dangers and Ineffectiveness of
Mammography and Radiation
by Barbara Minton
TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton
Almost any woman who has
undergone the torturous compression and radiation of her breasts wonders
instinctively about the damage mammography is doing to her. But the
instincts of women have long been devalued, and most just assume they are
being silly. After all, the medical establishment would never do anything to
harm, right? All the propaganda about mammograms reducing the risk of death
from breast cancer makes us continue to doubt what our common sense is
telling us, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that radiation
causes all types of cancer including that of the breast.
The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have
all classified X-rays as carcinogens based on the fact that they have been
linked to leukemia and cancers of the breast, lung and thyroid. The more
radiation a woman receives in her lifetime, whether it is during a dental
exam, at an airport, or during her yearly mammogram, the more likely it is
that she will develop breast cancer. In fact, the spiraling rates of breast
cancer seen in the last 30 years may be directly tied to the increased use
The harmful effects of radiation have been known for four decades
The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
began to encourage the use of mammography almost 40 years ago, at a time
when its dangers were already well known. Mammography was linked with their
financial objectives, and the advertising rhetoric at the time urged “a
checkup and a check”.
In 1974, the NCI was warned by Professor Malcolm C. Pike at the University
of Southern California School of Medicine that a number of specialists had
concluded, “giving a women under age 50 a mammogram on a routine basis is
close to unethical”. This warning was ignored.
Also in the 1970’s, the Director of Biostatistics at Rosewell Park Memorial
Institute for Cancer Research, Dr. Irwin Bross, headed a study involving
data from 16 million people living in his area. This ground breaking study
found that the main cause of the rising rates of leukemia was medical
radiation in the form of diagnostic medical X-rays. Applying his findings to
the breast cancer screening program, Dr. Bross elaborated, “women should
have been given the information about the hazards of radiation at the same
time they were given the sales talk for mammography.”
Dr. Bross’ research was followed by that of Dr. John Gofman, Professor
Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at
Berkeley, who in the early 1990’s found that three-quarters of the annual
incidence of breast cancer in the United States was caused by ionizing
radiation, primarily from medical sources. Dr. Bross did not underestimate
the role played by pesticides, synthetic hormones, poor diets and other
environmental stressors, stating, “There is no inherent conflict or
competition between carcinogens,” because they multiply each other’s
carcinogenic effects. Although X-rays and radiotherapy are among the few
environmental contaminants known unequivocally to cause may forms of cancer,
they are routinely recommended and used with cancer patients although there
is no proven benefit to survival.
In the early 1980’s and in the face of these findings, the NCI and ACS
jointly urged annual breast X-rays for women under age 50. Doctors assumed
there was good evidence supporting the recommendation and began insisting on
mammograms for their patients.
In 1985, The Lancet, one of the five leading medical journals in the
world, published an article condemning this mammography recommendation and
stating, “Over 280,000 women were recruited without being told that no
benefit of mammography had been shown in a controlled trial for women below
50, and without being warned about the potential risk of induction of breast
cancer by the test which was supposed to detect it. In women below 50 . . .
mammography gives no benefit.”
The media and many government health officials stayed silent regarding
mounting evidence that mammograms cause cancer, and the ACS and the NCI
continued to recommend mammograms for women under 50 until 1992, when Samuel
Epstein, professor at the University of Illinois Medical Center, along with
64 other distinguished cancer authorities, opposed this status quo thinking
and warned the public about what the ACS and NCI were up to.
The next month, The Washington Post broke the story into the
mainstream media, exposing what the ACS and the NCI had done to countless
women for the previous twenty years. In this article Dr. Epstein was quoted,
“The high sensitivity of the breast, especially in young women, to radiation
induced cancer was known by 1970. . . the establishment ignores safe and
effective alternatives to mammography.” Dr. Epstein saw this as a conscious,
chosen, politically expedient act by a group of people for the sake of their
own power, prestige and financial gain, resulting in suffering and death for
millions of women. He referred to mammograms as “crimes against humanity”.
In December, 1992, The New York Times published facts about
mammography and concluded that women were not being told the truth.
In 1995, The Lancet again pointed the finger at the ACS and NCI
mammography scam by concluding, “The benefit is marginal, the harm caused is
substantial, and the costs incurred are enormous.”
Meanwhile, women’s health advocate Susan Weed began to publish her findings.
In Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way, she reports,
“Scientists agree that there is no safe dose of radiation. Cellular DNA in
the breast is more easily damaged by very small doses of radiation than
thyroid tissue or bone marrow; in fact, breast cells are second only to
fetal tissues in sensitivity to radiation. As an added risk, one percent of
American women carry a hard-to-detect oncogene that is triggered by
radiation: a single mammogram increases their risk of breast cancer by a
factor of 4-6 times."
Sister Rosalie Bertell, a highly respected world authority on the dangers of
radiation, says that one rad increases breast cancer risk by one percent and
is the equivalent of one year’s natural aging. “If a woman has yearly
mammograms from age 55 to 75, she will receive a minimum of 20 rads of
radiation." As a comparison, the atomic blast in Hiroshima produced 35 rads.
Dr. Charles B. Simone, a former clinical associate in immunology and
pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute has said, “Mammograms increase
the risk for developing breast cancer and raise the risk of spreading or
metastasizing an existing growth. The annual mammographic screening of
10,000 women aged 50-70 will extend the lives of, at best, 26 of them; and
the annual screening of 10,000 women in their 40s will extend the lives of
only 12 women per year.”
Radiation is not the only danger posed by mammograms
Although widely used for early cancer-detection screening, remarkably little
attention has been paid to the techniques of breast compression used in the
mammography procedure, according to William Campbell Douglass, Jr. writing
for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Although the principal of handling
cancer very gently so as not to spread it is widely accepted by the medical
profession, this principal has not been applied to breast screening. During
mammography, the techniques used are designed for maximum detection of
abnormalities without regard to the possible consequences of that action.
Douglass notes a survey that found mammographers used as much compression as
the patient could tolerate, and they had no idea how much compression they
were using. In fact, the guidelines for mammography state, “adequacy of the
compression device is crucial to good quality mammography.” That force is
300 newtons, the equivalent of placing a 50 pound weight on the breast.
One animal study found that the number of metastases increases by 80 percent
if the tumor was manipulated. A human study reported in the British
Medical Journal found that death rates were increased by 29 percent in
women whose breasts were squeezed during mammography. This is likely to be
the result of the rupture of small blood vessels in or around small
undetected breast cancers. These ruptures are the probable cause of the
malignant cells found in lymph modes examined during breast cancer surgery,
and used to scare women into excepting radiation and chemotherapy.
Mistaken false positive diagnoses are common in pre-menopausal women and
post-menopausal women on estrogen substitution drugs, because the breast
tissue of these women is dense and glandular in nature. These mistakes
result in needless anxiety, more mammograms, and highly dangerous biopsies
that can cause cancer cells to metastasize, if indeed there is a cancer.
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer
Institute, for the group of women with multiple high-risk factors such
as a strong family history, prolonged use of contraceptives, and no breast
feeding history, the cumulative risk of false positives increases to as high
as 100 percent over a decade of screening, due to this being the group most
strongly urged to participate in multiple screenings.
Over-diagnosis and subsequent over-treatment are major risks of mammography.
The unchallenged use of screening has resulted in a huge increase in the
diagnosis of ductal carcinoma-insitu (DCIS), a pre-invasive form of
cancer which has about 40,000 diagnoses annually. DCIS is composed of
micro-calcifications and treated by lumpectory plus radiation or even
mastectomy and chemotherapy. However, over 80 percent of DCIS do not become
invasive if left untreated. The mortality rate from DCIS is the same for
women diagnosed and treated early as it is for those diagnosed later,
following development of invasive cancer That mortality rate is about 1%,
according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
found that since mammographic screening was first introduced, the incidence
of DCIS, which represents 12% of all breast cancer cases, has increased by
328% for all women, and 200% of this increase is due to the use of
mammography. The increase in incidence for women under the age of 40 has
gone up by over 3000%. Did incidence of such cancer's magically increase by
those whopping percentages just at the time mammography was introduced?
Highly unlikely! These findings suggest that without any screening and
intervention, many DCIS situations are positively resolved by the body.
Mammograms fail to reduce breast cancer mortality
Despite all evidence to the contrary, the mantra remains that routine
mammography screenings allow early detection and treatment of breast cancer
and reduced mortality. But in reality, the vast majority of breast cancers
are unaffected by early detection, either because they are aggressive or
because they are not. The aggressive cancers will continue to kill women, no
matter how much surgery, radiation and chemotherapy they have, unless the
source of the cancer is addressed. The cancers that are not aggressive
suggest a well functioning immune system in a woman who is otherwise of
fairly good health, features that would be compromised by traditional
Mammograms divert women's attention from the real issues
The mammography industry has made women passive participants in their own
health. If the result of the mammogram is positive, the women moves on to
the next phase in the 'standard of care' that includes still more mammograms
followed by biopsies. If a cancer is found, she undergoes surgery, radiation
and chemotherapy, and is prescribed a regimen of debilitating drugs to take
for many years. She remains completely ignorant of what caused her to have
cancer in the first place, and about what she can do to try to regain her
If the results are negative, she breathes a sigh of relief, schedules
another mammogram for next year, and goes about her business as usual.
Again, she is given no information with which to empower herself about how
to avoid breast cancer.
In a world not run by a pharmaceutical industry-medical establishment
partnership, the actions of the cancer industry would be abhorrent. In this
kind of world, a woman would be allowed to discover breast irregularities on
her own and come to a center where a physician would help her examine her
physical situation, personal history and psychology, and lifestyle. A
treatment protocol would be designed specifically for her based on her
personal situation. This protocol would recognize that the breast
irregularities are a wake up call, and would address how best to restore
balance and health to all aspects of her body, mind and spirit.
Study finds that radiation
treatments create cancer stem cells 30 times more potent
than regular cancer cells
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the Truth beneath a Sea of Pink
Does Chemo & Radiation Actually
Make Cancer More Malignant?
Chemo Does Not Cure: Often It
Inflicts Damage and Spreads Cancer
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