Mammography — Myths & Alternatives


Dec 29

Please check for updates at the end of this article.

I’m sure by now, most of you (if you’ve been on the internet long enough) have received the tongue-in-cheek essay on preparing for a Mammogram (something about slamming your breast in a drawer repeatedly). If you’ve been paying attention at this site (have perused our content a bit), you might wonder why we are not sold on yearly mammograms as cancer prevention. Having one’s breasts zapped yearly doesn’t seem to fit the preventative model; even the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has changed its thinking about mammography, raising the starting age to 50.

A great article on the web is:  Mammography Madness, written by Dr William Campbell Douglass, a true medical heretic.

Debunking the Myths of Mammography

“Radiation therapy does not improve the survival of patients with breast cancer. Did you know that the mortality rate for breast cancer in women over 55 was about 20% higher in 1995 than in 1970 (so much for mammograms)?”

Irwin Bross, biostatistician for the National Cancer Institute.

1. Mammograms Save Lives

Yes, yes, yes. I hear it all the time too: “My mammogram saved my life!” However, statistically, breast cancer mortality is the same for those who have had mammograms as those who have not had them. [Ref]

2. Mammograms Catch Cancer In Its Early Stages

They do not, and the number of false positives and false negatives seem to really mess up women’s lives. Mammography can find only advanced tumors. And Dr Douglass points out that the real problem is, if it’s a slow growing tumor, finding it early doesn’t mean anything, and if it’s a fast growing malignant tumor, modern medicine doesn’t yet have a cure for it and most women will eventually die from this. [Ref1] [Ref2]

3. Mammograms Are Safe

Many feel they can cause cancer (as you’ll see throughout this essay). They can help existing tumors to spread. William Campbell Douglass, M.D., has said: “I find it maddeningly contradictory that medical students are taught to examine breasts gently to keep any possible cancer from spreading, yet radiologists are allowed to manhandle them for a mammogram.”

4. Mammograms Are the Most Dependable Breast Cancer Screening Method

Far from it. There are safer methods and more dependable methods. The NCI estimates that the risk of a false positive is about 40% which leads to unnecessary biopsies, mastectomies, lumpectomies, and radiation (which can damage your cardiovascular health). And we’ll tell you a bit more further on in this article.

The Dangers of Mammography

From Dr Samuel Epstein in an article entitled, “New Federal Guidelines Ignore Dangers of Mammography,” [this article is no longer on the web, however we have found another with the same message: New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines At Odds With Congress  ] we get the following:

Screening mammography poses significant and cumulative risks of radiation, particularly for premenopausal women, of which women remain uninformed. The routine practice of taking four films of each breast annually results in approximately 1 rad (radiation absorbed dose) exposure.

This is about 1,000 times greater than exposure from a chest x-ray which is broadly focused on the entire chest rather than narrowly on the breast. The premenopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, each 1 rad exposure increasing breast cancer risk by about 1 percent, with a cumulative 10 percent increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening.

Radiation risks are further increased, by some four-fold, for the 1 to 2 percent of women who are unknowing silent carriers of the A-T (ataxia-telangiectasia) gene. By some estimates, this accounts for up to 20 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed annually. All these risks are greater for women in their thirties who are being encouraged to undergo “baseline screening,” for which there is no evidence of any future relevance.

According to Irwin Bross in his book Fifty Years of Folly and Fraud “In The Name of Science,” one of the biggest myths today is that low level radiation is harmless. He added that myths are invulnerable to truth.

Editor’s Note: We recently (2020) tried to find a copy of Bross’ book, but could not. Most of the references to it are from our old website and from sites that “lifted” our work and republished it. I still have my copy, and it’s not for sale.

Irwin Bross, while working at the National Cancer Institute as a biostatistician, discovered how radiation shrunk tumors, while allowing the spread of the malignancy. He found that when you attack a cancer with radiation therapy or even a mammogram, statistically, it has a better chance of spreading than if radiation had not been used. He even discovered, through his statistics, that most tumors, even though under a microscope might look malignant, would not become malignant until attacked by radiation or chemotherapy. Bross was one of the first to theorize that one natural path for breast cancers is to spontaneously regress.

Bross’ findings have just been corroborated in a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine (Arch Intern Med. 2008;168[21]:2302-2303) after it was discovered that breast cancer rates increased significantly in four Norwegian counties after women began getting mammograms every two years. The study also pointed out that start of screening mammography programs throughout Europe has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancers.

Another important conclusion from this study also corroborated Bross’ theory of spontaneous regression: “Because the cumulative incidence among controls never reached that of the screened group, it appears that some breast cancers detected by repeated mammographic screening would not persist to be detectable by a single mammogram at the end of six years. This raises the possibility that the natural course of some screen-detected invasive breast cancers is to spontaneously regress.”

Mammography Screening is NOT Preventive Medicine

Mammography is screening only. Prevention is lifestyle and nutrition. A screening is not preventive, especially if there is a chance that screening might cause cancer.

As you read above, many physicians feel that over-screening is actually causing breast cancer.

Even if there wasn’t one case of cancer caused by mammography, the drawbacks just outweigh the benefits as studies show.

  • Dr. John D Keen feels that statistically, the chance that a mammogram will save a life is very slim. Experience has shown him that women under 50 who have regular mammogram are ten times more likely to be misdiagnosed and over-treated.
  • Dr. Karster Juhl Jorgensen, in his paper: “Mammography screening is not as good as we hoped” [this paper is no longer on the web] feels that the numbers just don’t add up. There are few benefits but serious and deadly consequences. Dr. Karster Juhl Jorgensen has stated, “A decision not to get screened can be as sensible as the decision to get screened.”
  • The New England Journal of Medicine published “Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence” by Drs Archie Bleyer and H Gilbert Welch that concluded:

Despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer. Although it is not certain which women have been affected, the imbalance suggests that there is substantial overdiagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers, and that screening is having, at best, only a small effect on the rate of death from breast cancer.

“Substantially overdiagnosed” in numbers comes to 70,000 women accounting for 31% of all breast cancers diagnosed.

  • Dr. Karla Kerlikowse, biostatistician and professor of epidemiology in her paper: “Mammogram Every Two Years Has Same Benefit As Yearly Mammogram for Older Women” concludes that yearly screening leads to more false positives; no added benefit but definitely lots of harm.
  • A 2009 review of the available research by the esteemed Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews v found that while mammography screening was likely to reduce breast cancer mortality, screening also led to a 30 percent rate of overdiagnosis and overtreatment — which meant that all in all it actually increased the absolute risk by 0.5 percent. This means that for every 2,000 women screened over a 10 year period, ONE woman will have her life prolonged, while 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed with cancer had they not been screened, will be treated unnecessarily.
  • A 2010 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine VI suggests that increased awareness and improved treatments rather than mammograms are the main force in reducing the breast cancer death rate. Mammograms, combined with modern treatment, was found to have reduced the death rate by 10 percent, but the study data indicated that the effect of mammograms alone could be as low as 2 percent or even zero. To put this into further context, a 10 percent reduction would mean that if 1,000 50-year-old women were screened over a 10
    year period, 996 women rather than 995.6 would not die from the cancer — an effect so tiny it may have occurred by chance!
  • A 2012 Harvard study vii found that 15-25 percent of breast cancer cases are overdiagnosed, translating to 6 to 10 women being overdiagnosed for every 2,500 women receiving annual mammograms. The researchers concluded that mammograms may not only be inappropriate for breast cancer screening, but may actually contribute to significant overdiagnosis of cancer that otherwise would have remained harmless. [These last three were found at]

Yet with all these studies in agreement, the American Cancer Society still recommends yearly mammograms for women over 40. Makes you wonder where they get their funding. (We support the boycott of the ACS.)

Effective Alternative Breast Cancer Screening

  1. Breast Self- Examination or BSE. Get instructions on how to do this, three times a week in the shower, along with a yearly exam by a physician. A recent Canadian Study University of Toronto) using 40,000 women showed that BSE and a yearly exam were just as effective as Mammograms.
  2. Thermography. A thermograph is a picture of the heat (and cold) levels in your body. Since cancer has a very high metabolism, it is slightly hotter than the normal tissues surrounding it and can be detected by a competent thermograph wiz. Thermography, so it is said, can detect a tumor before a mammogram can and there are fewer false positives.
  3. AMAS (anti-malignian antibody in serum test). Some people swear by this test, others swear at it. However, statistically speaking, an AMAS test can be up to 95% accurate on the first reading, and up to 99% accurate after the second reading. Since this test only finds cancer cells in your body, a follow-up exam will be needed to locate the cancer. [Ref]
  4. NMP66. This was sent to me by a reader. They’d been to an MIT web site and sent it along, saying, “WOW, can you believe these results!” And yes, the results were incredible, though the test size was small. It seems that NMPs (Nuclear Matrix Proteins) help form the nuclei (the cell’s control center) of healthy cells. It is theorized that abnormal amounts of NMPs in the blood is a sign that cancer is present in the body. Furthermore, there is a breast-specific NMP called NMP66. The test was simple: 78 women were sent in for testing, all of them had been tested and screened for cancer already. The test found the cancer in all of the ones already diagnosed (except for just one) and found nothing in the cancer free women. Yes, it is a small study, but it is still very promising.
  5. The Donna Glove, a class one medical device, was patented by a an Italian entrepreneur in 2007. It enables women to perform a self-exam with startling accuracy. It is based on a principle of locking and enlarging. A tumor the size of a grain of sand seems, to the user, about 50 times larger. In one study at the University Tor Vergata in Rome, the glove proved to be 100% accurate, while the control group, using manual detection was only 50% accurate. Because there is no radiation, the Donna Glove can be used frequently, and in the privacy of one’s own home with no side-effects.

In a newsletter we published in 2008, we presented a study out of the University of Texas in which the researcher, Dr Charles Streckfus told us, “Breast cancer triggers a change in the type and amount of proteins in the secretions from the salivary glands.” And indeed, scientists back then had identified 49 different proteins in saliva that can separate healthy women from those with benign breast tumors and from those with malignant breast tumors.

What we really wanted to impress on the reader, was that those doing the study wanted FDA approval on this testing so they could really put it into practice, but they feared it might take at least five years. Well, here is another study, Salivary Biomarkers in Cancer Detection from July of 2017, and even today, January 2020, the FDA has yet to approve these sorts of cancer screening, prompting us to ask, “Who exactly is the the FDA protecting?”

In screening, there is a second step: MONITORING the growth or reduction of the tumor. Thermography is perfect for this. Whether the patient decides to go with conventional therapies or alternative therapies, monitoring one’s progress is important, and thermography is absolutely perfect for this part of the healing process, as it is not invasive, nor are there the harmful x-rays, and it isn’t as painful as slamming your breast in a drawer.

We were lucky in having professional thermologists guide us in the facts and figures relating to thermography. In 2013, we used to publish the International Wellness Directory, in which we listed 591 thermography centers. We are posting it here for you: Thermography Centers.

For more information on thermography, we suggest the following link:

Please see our article on Medical Fraud: Radiation.  A mammogram is radiation. We are told that today we use a lot less radiation in mammography than in the early days; but what exactly the dangerous limit is, no one seems to know (or they aren’t telling).

From the Thermography First, LLC, we got the following:

“The ideal early warning system would detect both the pre-cancerous changes occurring in the breast and the first cancer cell formations. Digital Infrared Imaging has the ability to detect the chemical and blood vessel changes in pre-cancerous as well as cancerous breast tissue. DII can be the first indicator that a cancer may be forming or present; and in many cases from 8-10 years before it can be detected by any other method.

“Cancer cells used to be normal cells, but because of DNA or cell mutation, the cells have replicated out of control, becoming cancerous. When our immune systems are compromised, they cannot fight off these cancer cells. This is why it is critical to maintain a strong immune system with lots of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, especially the green leafy kind (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, etc.).  Also, there are hundreds of studies and research to show that radiation affects and damages the very DNA in our cells, especially with repeated exposure.

“There are other things that can cause cancer.  Hormonal imbalances, environmental pollution, family history, the foods we eat, can all cause our immune systems to fail. Most breast cancers are estrogen dependent, which is why it is crucial for every woman to check their hormone levels. You can do this through your OB/GYN.   It is not only important to see what your hormone levels are, but to see how they are metabolizing with a special blood test called Estronex. Since this is not a routine test, you must ask for it by name, or see a qualified nutritionist who can give you the test.

“Three months after my mastectomy, I had a thermogram, and there were already new vascularities developing in my left breast.  This is when I sought the help of a nutritionist. With a simple blood test, I was told that my estrogen was metabolizing in such a way as to promote cancer growth. With a strict diet, the right supplements and balancing my hormones, I was able to get it under control.”  []

UPDATE 5/13/13

Swiss could be first to drop mammography

Is it the beginning of the end for mammography, the screening technology for breast cancer? The Swiss could be the first to drop it after independent research revealed that the risks outweighed any benefits—and that earlier research, which had provided the evidence to launch national screening programs in most Western nations, had been falsified.

Researchers from the Swiss Medical Board, an independent health research group, first reported on mammography’s shortcomings last February, and one Swiss canton, Uri, is now reconsidering a move to introduce it for routine screening.

Others may follow, and two of the board’s researchers have spoken out this week because they say it is ethical to do so. “It is easy to promote mammography screening if the majority of women believe that it prevents or reduces the risk of getting breast cancer and saves many lives through early detection of aggressive tumours. We would be in favour of mammography screening if these beliefs were valid. Unfortunately, they are not, and we believe that women need to be told so. From an ethical perspective, a public health programme that does not clearly produce more benefits than harms is hard to justify. Providing clear, unbiased information, promoting appropriate care and preventing overdiagnosis and overtreatment would be a better choice,” say Nikola Biller-Andorno and Peter Juni this week.

In their earlier report, the researchers discovered that nearly 22 per cent of ‘cancers’ that mammography was detecting were false (false-positives). Despite the false reading, many of the women went through arduous cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and even mastectomies, or breast removal.

Early research, including a 50-year-old paper, suggested that screening would save 80 lives per 1,000 women screened. However, the Swiss research found that just one life would be saved by mammography.

(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2014; doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1401875) and

UPDATE 9/2/15

Norwegian Study Shows. . .

For every 27 women correctly diagnosed, 142 have a false-positive reading that results in surgery or chemotherapy.Even though this adds millions to their health care budget and women suffer needlessly, the Norwegian government is still keeping this screening process because they believe it saves lives. Please note that no other screening process was studied. [PubMed]