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More Women Catching On To The Dangers of Mammograms


The awareness regarding the dangers of mammograms is expanding. Only half of eligible women in the United States are getting their annual mammograms, even if they have insurance to pay for the procedure, according to data presented at the 33rd Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

"This is a good sign," said Joseph Cousineau, a thermographer based out of New York City. "The more women educate themselves on the dangers of mammograms, the greater the decline and compliance with conventional recommendations."

Last year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that the age of first mammogram be lifted from 40 to 50 years of age, at which biennial mammography begins, and caused a public outcry. To date, no major insurance company or other organization has acted on that recommendation.

Earlier this year, recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) on breast cancer screening suggested that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients. The recommendations also suggest further utilization of lethal medical imaging tools such as mammography which has itself been found to cause cancer.

No evidence has ever supported any recommendations made for regular periodic screening and mammography at ANY AGE. Exposure to mammograms today can lead to cancer much later in life. As ABC News reported, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says, "Radiation exposure from these scans is not inconsequential and can lead to later cancers."

Milayna Subar, M.D., vice president and national practice leader for oncology at Medco Health Solutions, Inc, reviewed medical claims between January 2006 and December 2009 from a database of more than 12 million people. All participating women had either employer-provided insurance or Medicare.

Among those women who were 40 to 85 years of age, only 50 percent had a mammogram in any given year and only 60 percent had two or more mammograms over four years. Average annual mammography rates were 47 percent for women aged 40 to 49 years, 54 percent for women aged 50 to 64 years and 45 percent for women aged 65 years and older.

The researchers did not examine reasons as to why the women were not getting mammograms, but several theories exist, according to Subar. Among these theories: discomfort from the test, lack of available screening centers, general non-compliance or denial.

"Women are simply more educated and more aware about the consequences of unnecessary scans, and there are plenty of alternatives such as thermography which are far safer, less invasive and more accurate than mammograms," said Cousineau.


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