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Are Mammograms Safe?

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
breast cancer awareness ribbon

The American Cancer Society defines breast cancer as a "malignant tumor that starts from the cells of the breast."

The breast is made up of milk glands and fatty tissues, and cancer can occur in any of these tissues. Cells in our bodies are constantly reproducing, and when they start to reproduce at an abnormal rate, they cause a tumor to form.

If cells from a malignant tumor enter the lymphatic system they can infect other tissues, this is termed as metastasizing.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Breast cancer risk increases with age and genetics also play a large part. Certain mutagenic tendencies can be inherited, but there are also some lifestyle factors that affect the risk. These include the use of artificial hormones (oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy), exposure to radiation, frequent alcohol use, poor diet, toxic overload, obesity and lack of exercise.

Another risk factor is breast density. Women with dense breasts are more likely to develop breast cancer because they have less of the lower risk fatty tissue and more of the higher risk glandular tissue [1]. This dense tissue also makes it more difficult to detect abnormalities using mammograms.

Detection Using Mammograms

Increased awareness, self examinations and technological advances may have contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of breast cancer cases in the United States in recent years.

The ability of mammograms to detect the development of cancer increases as women get older [2], although many women use their perceived risk factor to determine whether they should get regular mammograms or not [3].

Mammograms are difficult even for medical practitioners to read and interpret, and while they do help detect some breast abnormalities, they might actually be increasing the occurrence of breast cancer [4].

Did you know that mammograms may cause breast cancer?

Recent research has shown that repeated exposure to mammograms may act as an independent risk factor for breast cancer. While many medical experts still recommend regular mammograms, which take an x-ray like photograph of the breast, to detect small tumors, opposition to the practice is growing.


It is worthwhile to consider that ionizing radiation has decreased from 5-10 rads in the 1970s to 1 rad today. According to Dr. Frank Rauscher each 1 rad of exposure increases breast cancer risk by one percent, which could become significant over many years of exposure.

This combined with the fact that mammograms do not detect all tumors, and with the fact that mammograms result in biopsy testing, even for benign lumps, make mammography an expensive (financially and in terms of cost to your health) and unreliable option for detecting breast cancer.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, evaluated breast cancer mortality statistics in a group of women following five annual mammograms starting at various ages, and found: Women who underwent five mammograms between the ages of 24 and 29 would have an additional 26 breast cancers per 10,000 women due to the radiation. Mammograms between the ages of 30 and 34 would produce an excess of 20 additional cancers and, between 35 and 39, an additional 13 cancers.

You have options

Tumors that grow in the breast are fed by blood vessels generated by the cancer, this means that those blood vessels are not controlled by the automatic nervous system like the rest of the blood vessels in the breast. A non-invasive and non-squishing method for detecting masses in the breast is available.

This method, called thermography, uses thermal imaging to detect "hot spots" in the breast. Thermographic detection of these spots is more reliable than mammography because the blood flow pattern changes long before the tumor is large enough to be detected by x-ray.

Mammogram Options

This early detection allows patients to more closely monitor their breasts and implement lifestyle changes that could keep the tumor from growing or even give them time to heal themselves completely before the tumor becomes unmanageable [5]. A positive thermography should be seen as an opportunity, and even a nudge toward, serious preventative measures.

New research is constantly being done and new technology constantly developed to detect and treat breast cancer. You can't control all of your risk factors, like age, gender or genetics, but you can have a serious influence on risk factors from your diet, environment, exercise regime and mammograms.

I have been against the use of mammograms for over 10 years and truly believe that the radiation may induce the proliferation of cancerous cells. Thermography has come a long way and is a much safer way in my opinion to have the breasts screened. I recommend going to OmniBody Scan for more information or to find a practitioner in your area. The OmniBody Scan is a liquid nitrogen camera that uses sensitive medical infrared lenses to detect temperature variations in the breast tissue. And, it does this without the harmful effects of radiation.

References (5)
  1. Martin LJ, Boyd NF. Mammographic density. Potential mechanisms of breast cancer risk associated with mammographic density: hypotheses based on epidemiological evidence. Breast Cancer Res. 2008;10(1):201. doi: 10.1186/bcr1831. Epub 2008 Jan 9. Review.
  2. Keen JD, Keen JE. How does age affect baseline screening mammography performance measures? A decision model. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2008 Sep 21;8:40. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-8-40.
  3. Gross CP, Filardo G, Singh HS, Freedman AN, Farrell MH. The relation between projected breast cancer risk, perceived cancer risk, and mammography use. Results from the National Health Interview Survey. J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Feb;21(2):158-64. Epub 2005 Dec 22.
  4. Carney PA, Yi JP, Abraham LA, Miglioretti DL, Aiello EJ, Gerrity MS, Reisch L, Berns EA, Sickles EA, Elmore JG. Reactions to uncertainty and the accuracy of diagnostic mammography. J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Feb;22(2):234-41.
  5. Mayo Clinic Staff. Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits. Mayo Clinic. 2012 December 12.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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