ecomii food & health alternative blog
Home  > ecomii blogs  > ecomii food & health alternative blog > Should Mammograms Go The Way of The Dinosaurs?

ecomii healthy living

Should Mammograms Go The Way of The Dinosaurs?

By Christine Horner M.D.
July 21, 2014
File under: Health Concerns

For over forty years, women have been told that the best way to lower their risk of dying of breast cancer is by getting a yearly mammogram.

However, several recent, well-designed studies have found that may not be true. Researchers say the value of mammograms has been overrated and their harms severely underrated.

Last year, a study of 600,000 women published in the journal Cochrane Database System Review concluded that there is “no evidence that mammography screening reduces overall mortality.” In addition, thirty percent of the “breast cancers” found by mammogram were “over-diagnosed,” meaning they would never become a problem.

For every 2,000 women invited for screening for 10 years, the researchers stated that only one will avoid dying of cancer and ten healthy women would be unnecessarily treated with potentially harmful surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

This past February, a landmark study published in British Medical Journal reported on 25 years of follow up of a randomized breast cancer screening trial. It also found “no evidence that mammography screening reduces overall mortality.”


  • Are not useful for large groups of women including those who are young (less than 40 to 50 years of age)
  • Are not useful for women with breasts that are dense, small, large, reconstructed or have implants.
  • Use ionizing radiation, which can cause breast cancer.
  • Miss 20 to 30 percent of breast cancers.
  • Have high false positive rates – 80 percent of what mammograms call “suspicious” and need biopsy are actually benign.
  • Over-diagnose in 21 percent to 30 percent leading to unnecessary treatment with potentially serious complications.
  • Only pick up cancer after you already have it.

Swiss Medical Board Takes the Lead

Because of all the shortcomings of mammograms, the Swiss Medical Board published a statement in the February 2014 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine recommending mammography screening programs be phased out. They said, “From an ethical perspective: a public health program that does not clearly produce more benefits than harms is hard to justify.”

Alternative Tests

So what are women to do? Fortunately, there are several excellent alternative tests that can be used for breast cancer screening. First, it is important to know that no test is perfect. Research shows the best results come from doing at least three examinations such as thermography, ultrasound, and physical exam.


Before a tumor starts to grow, new blood vessels grow into the area forming abnormal patterns and excessive heat. Thermography is a completely safe infrared picture that can “see” these physiological changes years before they become cancer.


Ultrasound technology uses harmless sound waves to evaluate the physical properties of the breasts. More sophisticated ultrasounds include “elastography ultrasound” (EU) and 3-D ultrasound. EU uses a color mode to show the difference between stiffer cell membranes associated with cancer, and normal flexible cell membranes. A 3-D ultrasound is particularly useful for women with dense breasts.

What should you do?

Research shows beyond a doubt that the value of mammograms has been greatly overestimated, and the harms underestimated.

Mammograms do not improve mortality from breast cancer over simple physical exam. I agree with the Swiss Board – screening mammography should no longer be recommended from an ethical standpoint. Instead, a combination of ultrasound, thermography and physical examination are a much better choice. For certain women, an MRI scan which uses a magnet rather than radiation may also be appropriate.

Most importantly, focus more of your attention on prevention, rather than the screening debate. Research shows that over 95 percent of breast cancer could be prevented through simple diet and lifestyle techniques.

Christine Horner, MD is a board certified and nationally recognized surgeon, author, expert in natural medicine, and a relentless champion for women’s health. Dr. Horner on Facebook and Twitter

Comments (0) Email Link
0 Comment
No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

« all ecomii blogs  
About this blog

An alternative approach to health, wellness and disease prevention. Marie Oser and her team of bloggers bring you creative natural solutions to issues affecting our health and wellbeing.

About Marie Oser

Subscribe in a reader

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

recent posts
other green blogs
blog categories