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How X-Ray Mammography Is Accelerating The Epidemic of Cancer

Research: Mammography-Induced Cancer Vastly Underestimated

While a growing body of research now suggests that x-ray mammography is causing more harm than good in the millions of women who subject themselves to breast screenings, annually, without knowledge of their true health risks, the primary focus has been on the harms associated with over-diagnosis and over-treatment, and not the radiobiological dangers of the procedure itself.

In 2006, a paper published in the British Journal of Radiobiology, titled "Enhanced biological effectiveness of low energy X-rays and implications for the UK breast screening programme," revealed the type of radiation used in x-ray-based breast screenings is much more carcinogenic than previously believed:

Recent radiobiological studies have provided compelling evidence that the low energy X-rays as used in mammography are approximately four times - but possibly as much as six times - more effective in causing mutational damage than higher energy X-rays. Since current radiation risk estimates are based on the effects of high energy gamma radiation, this implies that the risks of radiation-induced breast cancers for mammography X-rays are underestimated by the same factor.[1]

In other words, the radiation risk model used to determine whether the benefit of breast screenings in asymptomatic women outweighs their harm, underestimates the risk of mammography-induced breast and related cancers by between 4-600%.

The authors continued

Risk estimates for radiation-induced cancer – principally derived from the atomic bomb survivor study (ABSS) – are based on the effects of high energy gamma-rays and thus the implication is that the risks of radiation-induced breast cancer arising from mammography may be higher than that assumed based on standard risks estimates.

This is not the only study to demonstrate mammography X-rays are more carcinogenic than atomic bomb spectrum radiation. There is also an extensive amount of data on the downside of x-ray mammography.

Sadly, even if one uses the outdated radiation risk model (which underestimates the harm done),* the weight of the scientific evidence (as determined by the work of The Cochrane Collaboration) actually shows that breast screenings are in all likelihood not doing any net good in those who undergo them.

In a 2009 Cochrane Database Systematic Review,** also known as the Gøtzsche and Nielsen's Cochrane Review, titled "Screening for breast cancer with mammography," the authors revealed the tenuous statistical justifications for mass breast screenings: 

Screening led to 30% overdiagnosis and overtreatment, or an absolute risk increase of 0.5%. This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings. It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm.[2]

In this review, the basis for estimating unnecessary treatment was the 35% increased risk of surgery among women who underwent screenings. Many of the surgeries, in fact, were the result of women being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a "cancer" that would not exists as a clinically relevant entity were it not for the fact that it is detectable through x-ray mammography. DCIS, in the vast majority of cases, has no palpable lesion or symptoms, and some experts believe it should be completely reclassified as a non-cancerous condition.

A more recent study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011 titled, "Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modeling of Forrest report," not only confirmed the Gøtzsche and Nielsen's Cochrane Review findings, but found the situation likely worse

This analysis supports the claim that the introduction of breast cancer screening might have caused net harm for up to 10 years after the start of screening.[3]

So, let's assume that these reviews are correct, and at the very least, the screenings are not doing any good, and at worst, causing more harm than good. The salient question, however, is how much more harm than good? If we consider that, according to data from Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011), a mammogram uses 4 mSv of radiation vs. the .02 mSv of your average chest x-ray (which is 200 times more radiation), and then, we factor in the 4-600% higher genotoxicity/carcinogenicity associated with the specific "low-energy" wavelengths used in mammography, it is highly possible that beyond the epidemic of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, mammograms are planting seeds of radiation-induced cancer within the breasts of millions of women.***

With the advent of non-ionizing radiation based diagnostic technologies, such as thermography, it has become vitally important that patients educate themselves about the alternatives to x-ray mammography that already exist.  Until then, we must use our good sense - and research like this - to inform our decisions, and as far as the unintended adverse effects of radiation go, erring on the side of caution whenever possible.

Additional Reading

Is X-ray Mammography Findings Cancer or Benign Lesions?

The Dark Side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Does Chemo & Radiation Actually Make Cancer More Malignant?

*This discrepancy in radiation risk models/estimates follows from two fundamental problems: 1) the older risk model was based on higher-energy radiation emissions, such as are given off from atomic bomb blasts 2) it was a crude model, developed before the discovery of DNA and a full understanding of radiotoxicity/genotoxicity.

** Keep in mind that the Cochrane Database Review is at the top of the "food chain" of truth, in the highly touted "evidence-based model" of conventional medicine. Cochrane Database Reviews are produced by The Cochrane Collaboration, which is internationally recognized as the benchmark for high quality, evidence-based information concerning the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of common health care interventions. The organization, comprised of over 28,000 dedicated people from over 100 countries, prides itself on being an "independent" source of information, and historically has not been afraid to point out the corrupting influence of industry, which increasingly co-opts  the biomedical research and publishing fields.

***The low-energy wavelengths cause double strand breaks within the DNA of susceptible cells, which the cell can not repair. Through time these mutations result in "neoplastic transformation"; radiation has the ability to induce a cancerous phenotype within formerly healthy cells that has cancer stem cell-like (CSC) properties.

[1] Enhanced biological effectiveness of low energy X-rays and implications for the UK breast screening programme. Br J Radiol. 2006 Mar ;79(939):195-200. PMID: 16498030

[2] Screening for breast cancer with mammography. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(4):CD001877. Epub 2009 Oct 7. PMID: 19821284

[3] Possible net harms of breast cancer screening: updated modelling of Forrest report. BMJ. 2011 ;343:d7627. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID: 22155336

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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Mammograms and Insurance

Insurance covers mammograms but not thermograms. More needs to be done about getting insurance companies to cover them. I had stage 2 breast cancer and had never had a mammogram. Nobody in my family ever had mammograms or breast cancer. I had my breast removed. The doctor told me it had not spread. Then he wanted to set me up with an oncologist. I said NO!!. I went to a holistic clinic that put me on several supplements and an alkaline diet. I drink 9.0ph water and don't use sugar or substitutes. I eat 4 cloves of garlic everyday and onions. My breast cancer doctor now sees me once a year but won't see me unless I do a mammogram first. I have now done 2 but have told him I object and why. I told him I will do thermograms but he says they have not been approved. I will stop going for these mammograms and will lose my doctor because of it. Oh and when I told him what I was doing instead of the poison and burn he told me I was a smart lady. He couldn't by law tell me anything more.

I was right

See, for years my family had badgered me to get a mammogram, but I held out, as you see I am "big breasted" I breast fed my children and had no problems. A dear sister-in-law who did not breast feed her children and had several mammograms recently died of breast cancer. Just saying...Women breast feeding you child(ren) is the best prevention.


At 67 I have never had a mammogram, and neither did my mother or grandmothers, who did not get breast cancer.  Dr. Russell Blaylock says each mammogram may increase breast cancer risk by 1-2%.  Why take the risk when one does not have any specific reason for fearing breast cancer?  And thermography is a safe option if one feels the necessity to be screened.  I am certain the increased incidence of breast cancer in this country is to a great extent due to mammography.  I would like to see a study comparing women who get annual mammograms with those who've never had a mammogram.  I bet that would be revealing.

mammograms are planting seeds of radiation-induced cancer

I am 56 and never had a mammogram and very happy with MY decision.  Aside from the vice-like machine used to torture the female extremeties, I grew up with the old addage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  These days, Modern Medicine is geared more towards prescribing drugs for what MIGHT happen rather than treating what is happening.  I totally believe Modern Medicine has turned into a pharamaceutical companies's cash cow.  To ensure they get their consistant influx of millions upon milions of dollars, these big pharmaceutical companies have installed their own executives within the workings of the FDA to make sure thier chemical drugs are forced upon the population.  High radiation levels in mammograms is just another tool used to scare an unsuspecting women into taking drugs that are far more harmful than anyone wants to admit.  Pharmaceutical companies are the drug cartels, salesmen and doctors are the network of drug pushers and the pharmacy is the legal distributor.  It's nothing more than legalized drug abuse at it's highest form...sponsored by our government that is supposed to be helping and protecting us.

Merci! Tack! Danke! Thank you! Gracias!

Sayer Ji you are very kind to research and educate on topics that don't necessarily help you in your own health. Thank you for helping women with such important information. I appreciate all of your writings. I am glad to have found you and your site!

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Sayer Ji
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