ACS breast-cancer screening revisions still get it wrong

I don’t think the moon landing got this much press!

You probably saw it covered by CNN, The New York Times and just about every other media outlet you can imagine. The American Cancer Society has just revised its breast cancer screening guidelines, claiming you can start mammograms later and get them less often.

One newspaper even called the change “drastic.”

But the only thing that’s drastic is the bullseye groups like ACS keep painting right on millions of American women’s breasts.

Because all these new guidelines prove is that ACS and the billion-dollar cancer industry are just as obsessed as ever with mammograms.

And they’ll stop at nothing to get millions of us to risk our good health — and even our lives — with dangerous tests we don’t need.

New guidelines, same old havoc
Getting it a little less wrong isn’t the same thing as getting it right.

And that’s the best thing you can say about ACS’s new breast cancer screening guidelines.

They’re a little less wrong than they used to be — but still dead wrong and downright dangerous for millions of us.

You see, for years ACS has been recommending annual mammograms, starting when you turn 40. And they kept pushing these screenings even though research proved that breast tissue in younger women is too dense for mammograms to be reliable.

In fact, a study from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that for every 10,000 breast screenings for women in their 40s, one life is saved. Meanwhile, thousands of women are subjected to dangerous radiation exposure, stressful false-positives, and barbaric treatments they never needed (more on that in a moment).

So faced with the overwhelming evidence — the same evidence I’ve been sharing for years — that “early and often” mammograms do more harm than good, ACS did what it does best.

Nothing. Or, in this case, next to nothing.

According to the new ACS screening guidelines:

  • Instead of starting mammograms at 40, you’ll start them at 45.
  • ACS is still recommending mammograms every year from 45-54.
  • Once you’re 55, you can start getting them every other year “for as long as a woman is in good health.” In other words, practically forever.
  • You can skip the manual breast checks during routine physicals (I don’t think any of us will miss those).

Does that sound like “drastic” change to you? Hardly.

The fact it, ACS isn’t abandoning the mammogram ship at all. They’re still recommending them to millions of women who don’t need them, and the words “mammogram” or “mammography” appear a whopping 164 times in the new screening guidelines.

And that means ACS, other cancer groups, and thousands of mainstream docs will still be pushing the same three debunked mammogram myths on women everywhere.

Myth #1: Mammograms save lives. A study published in the British Medical Journal last year followed nearly 90,000 Canadians for 25 years and found that those who got mammograms had the exact same rate of breast cancer deaths as those who skipped them.

The only difference? Women who received mammograms were far more likely to be over-diagnosed and sent for radiation, chemo and even mastectomies they might not have needed.

Previous studies have found there is no advantage in finding breast cancers with a mammogram when they are too small to detect in an exam done by hand. Plus, there’s the fact that one in five cancers found by mammograms are the kind that should not be treated.

Myth #2: Mammograms are safe and effective. As I’ve told you before, mammograms require a brutal squashing of your breasts that can prompt the spread of existing cancer. And the radiation from mammograms can help plant the seeds of cancer.

The Institute of Medicine found that thousands of cases of breast cancer a year are linked to medical radiation, like the kind you get in mammograms.

Myth #3: Mammograms are the only way to catch cancer early. To groups like ACS, screening means one thing — mammograms. There’s no mention in the guidelines of digital thermography or ultrasounds — two safer, radiation-free and more effective types of screening.

But maybe the biggest myth is that mainstream doctors are going to stop forcing early mammograms on us just because of a slight change of heart from ACS.

When the USPSTF changed its guidelines in 2009 to put the kibosh on routine screenings before age 50, one hyperventilating authority actually accused the group of murder! You can’t get more dramatic than that!

Look, it doesn’t matter if you get screened at 18 or 80, mammography is backward and barbaric.

But one thing there should be no confusion about whatsoever is the importance of doing a self-breast exam every month. And that’s something any trained nurse can show you how to do.

Sources:

“New breast cancer guidelines: screen later, less often” Elizabeth Cohen, October 20, 2015, CNN, cnn.com