The Downsides of Mammogram Screening

As reported recently in The New York Times, new results of a 17 year long Danish study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, show that routine mammogram screening has not reduced the incidence of advanced tumors. Instead, it has led to early detection and over-diagnosis of benign lesions, tumors, cysts, etc., that would not have led to problems or necessitated treatment.  Researchers concluded that screening does not prevent advanced cancers or lower breast cancer mortality.

The risks vs. benefits of mammography have been problematic for years: the repeated radiation of the mammogram, the false postives, costly and unnecessary treatment for low-level risk cancers, and more. In an article for, Elizabeth Morris, chief of the breast imaging service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said, “I think mammograms have been oversold to the public,” she says. “It’s a great test, and it does save some women’s lives, but it doesn’t save every woman’s life.” Dr. Morris has also spoken about this on CNN (video).

In 2012 The Washington Post reported that as many as 25% of cases may have been over-diagnosis of benign or slow moving cancers that did not require treatment, and Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote about the big business of cancer screening that is driving unnecessary testing.

In the face of conflicting information, many patients are returning to self exams and more natural resources to maintain health. In an article on we read: “The time has come for a radical transformation in the way that we understand, screen for, prevent and treat cancer. It used to be that natural medical advocates didn’t have the so-called peer-reviewed ‘evidence’ to back up their intuitive and/or anecdotal understanding of how to keep the human body in health and balance. That time has passed., for instance, has over 20,000 abstracts indexed in support of a return to a medical model where the ‘alternative’ is synthetic, invasive, emergency-modeled medicine, and the norm is using food, herbs, minerals, vitamins and lifestyle changes to maintain, promote and regain optimal health.”