I just read an article in the NY Times blog that lays out the latest research - published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research shows that, "mammograms increased diagnoses and surgeries, but didn’t save lives". This is really important!
Mammograms increase diagnoses, but they do not save lives.
Mammograms have become standard care for women based on the understanding that early detection is key to preventing death from breast cancer. Instead the result is more radiation, more fear, more anxiety, more intervention and more medication for women without benefit. As the article states, "More bluntly, the trial results threatened a mammogram economy, a marketplace sustained by invasive therapies to vanquish microscopic clumps of questionable threat, and by an endless parade of procedures and pictures to investigate the falsely positive results that more than half of women endure."
So are mammograms benefiting women, or a dysfunctional health care system?
And more importantly, why is this newly published research not all over the news? Why am I reading this in a NY Times BLOG rather than the front page of the actual newspaper? Or at least the front page of the science section?
This is exactly what is happening in pregnancy and childbirth, as well. When it comes to breasts, breast cancer, pregnancy and childbirth, women have been instilled with the belief that our own bodies are to be feared. That we need extensive testing, invasive procedures, technology and all-powerful doctors to save us from our own bodies. In fact, the research on both breast health and pregnancy and childbirth health, repeatedly illustrate that our bodies, our knowledge of our own bodies, and in my opinion, quality relationships including open communication with our care providers is what leads us to best health.
Note: For those interested in safe, comfortable, and non-invasive approaches to breast health screening, they should check out thermography scans. Digital photographs of the heat patterns of the whole chest area. These photographs are completely safe, free of radiation and, when done annually, detect changes in breast tissue.