QUICKLINKS AND VIEW OPITONS
Mammography leads to lots of false positives, unnecessary biopsies and saves few, if any, lives
Monday, September 12, 2016 9:00 am Email this article
For every 1,000 women in the US who are 50-years-old getting mammograms every two years, only one fewer breast cancer death will occur over 10 years, reducing the number who die from breast cancer from 5 women to 4 women, but there is no evidence that the total number of deaths is reduced because the radiation from mammograms and unnecessary treatment may cause one additional death from other causes, and out of every 1,000 women given mammograms, “490 to 670 women are likely to have a false positive mammogram with repeat examination; 70 to 100 [are likely to have] an unnecessary biopsy; and 3 to 14 [are likely to have] an overdiagnosed breast cancer that would never have become clinically apparent [and would never have caused them any problems],” according to a recent article by two Swiss researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Cancer groups like to say that mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths by 20%, but this is very misleading
The reduction from 5 breast cancer deaths to 4 breast cancer deaths for every 1,000 women 50-years-old who are screened for 10 years is called a 20% reduction.
Do you find this misleading?
Women have been scared into believing breast cancer is a bigger killer than it really is
When US women were asked how many breast cancer deaths would be prevented by doing mammograms over 10 years, these women guessed that 160 women out of every 1,000 women would die from breast cancer over 10 years if they were not screened, but if they were screened, that only 80 women out of every 1000 would die from breast cancer over 10 years.
In other words, US women guessed that out of every 1,000 women, 80 fewer women would die from breast cancer over 10 years if they got mammograms than if they did not (80 rather than 160).
But the facts are much different than this: if 1,000 women 50-years-old were not given mammograms, only 5 women would die from breast cancer over the next 10 years, and if those same 1,000 women were given mammograms every two years, only one fewer woman would die from breast cancer—4 rather than 5—during those same 10 years, but there might be one more death due to other causes due to radiation and overtreatment so that the same number of women would die overall and no lives would be saved.
The bottom line is that screening mammograms are not saving nearly as many lives as women have been led to believe, and may not be saving any lives at all.
Other articles about breast cancer and breast cancer screening
Other articles about breast cancer and ways to reduce the risk naturally, and breast cancer screening are posted here.
Here are links to some of those articles.
Biller-Andorno N, and Juni P. Abolishing mammography screening programs? A view from the Swiss Medical Board. N Engl J Med, 2014 May 22; 370(21): 1965-1967.
The article is available for free here.
Author’s Contact Info
Nikola Biller-Andorno, MD, PhD
Institute of Biomedical Ethics
University of Zurich
member of the expert panel of the
Swiss Medical Board
Peter Jüni, MD
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine and
Clinical Trials Unit Bern
Department of Clinical Research
University of Bern
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