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  • More breast cancer screening does NOT lead to fewer breast cancer deaths

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 3:44 am Email this article

    More breast cancer screening does NOT reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer according to a new study.

    The study looked at data from 547 U.S. counties.

    Women who got screening mammograms varied from county to county from 39 percent to 78 percent.

    Comparing counties where there was a 10% absolute increase in screening mammograms — for example, comparing counties where 50% of women were screened versus 40% of women were screened — there was NO decrease in breast cancer deaths.

    1% MORE breast cancer deaths in counties with 10% MORE screening

    The relative risk was 1.01, meaning there were 1% more breast cancer deaths where there was 10% more screening, but this difference was not statistically significant, meaning this difference could simply be due to random chance.

    (It also suggests the possibility that women diagnosed with breast cancer radiation may INCREASE breast cancer deaths.)

    80% more breast cancers diagnosed in the counties with the most screening, but NO decrease in breast cancer deaths

    In counties with the MOST breast cancer screening versus the counties with the LEAST breast cancer screening, there were 80% more breast cancer diagnoses, (1.8 times more) but…

    “We did NOT find any significant change in breast cancer deaths in this county-level analysis. This was quite surprising to me…” noted Charles Harding, lead author of the study, in an audio interview he did with the medical journal.

    A one-minute audio clip from interview with the lead author, Charles Harding, is posted here.

    In an article posted yesterday, Prof. Peter Gotzsche, MD, author of the book Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy, noted that he and others have found that breast cancer screening does not save lives.


    Harding C, Pompei F, Burmistrov D, Welch HG, Abebe R, and Wilson R. Breast Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality Across US Counties. JAMA Intern Med, 2015 Jul 6; http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2363025.

    Author’s Contact Info

    Richard Wilson, DPhil
    Department of Physics
    Harvard University
    Jefferson Physical Laboratory, Room 257
    Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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