Do the math: fewer mammograms = fewer cases of breast cancer

So You Think You can Dance

If you crunch some numbers and you know in advance what the outcome will be…and then the outcome is not AT ALL what you saw coming, what do you do?

Start dancing!

Numbers converge

“Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

When CDC researchers conducted a state-by-state review of mammography use, they found a small increase in 17 states between 2000 and 2006. But during that same period, mammography use dropped in 34 states and Washington, D.C. In some states, the decrease exceeded 5 percent.

So, if mammography catches breast cancers early and saves lives, then breast cancer rates must have ticked up during those years of dwindling mammograms. Right?

Well, that’s what you’d expect if you believe everything you hear from the CDC.

In the opening paragraph of their study, however, CDC researchers note: “Breast cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined.” And the numbers bear this out. The CDC study found that between 2000 and 2004, breast cancer rates fell in 50 out of 51 states.

Just the way you are

So how did the CDC play this surprising outcome? They did the denial dance.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Jacqueline Miller, told HealthDay News that when screening rates drop, the CDC can “work to identify where and who interventions need to be targeted. In doing so, we can decrease invasive breast cancer incidences and breast cancer mortalities.”

Dr. Miller! Do the math! Less screening appears to add up to fewer breast cancer cases and lower mortality rates. Please! Don’t change a thing!

You can get the facts about mammogram risks, as well as information about safe alternatives to conventional mammography, in the e-Alert “End of the Day” (2/22/07).

“Mammography Use from 2000 to 2006: State-Level Trends with Corresponding Breast Cancer Incidence Rates” American Journal of Roentgenology, Vol. 192, No. 2, February 2009,
“Fewer Women are Having Mammograms” Robert Preidt, HealthDay News, 2/3/09,