A top doctor estimates that about three-quarters of all breast cancer cases in the United States are induced by radiation — including medical X-rays, and including mammograms to detect breast cancer.
Dr. John W. Goffman, M.D., Ph.D. published that finding in a 1996 book called Preventing Breast-Cancer: The Story of a Major, Proven, Preventable Cause of this Disease. He was a retired Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
While the medical profession doesn’t generally accept his exact figure of three-fourths, it’s a medical fact that X-rays cause cancer. This is very well known and accepted. It’s not controversial. Those painless, invisible rays that doctors aim at your chest or a broken bone or an arthritic joint are extremely dangerous. The reason is that X-rays cause healthy cells to mutate, and mutated cells are a well-known cause of cancer.
In spite of that, we’re seeing a big, bitter debate over whether women between the ages of 40 and 50 should receive an annual mammogram. On Nov. 17, a task force at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set off a firestorm by recommending that regular mammography screening shouldn’t start until age 50. This led some people to think the government is out to kill women by denying them mammograms.
Cheer up. This is one occasion where the government got it right.
I think the test is of doubtful value for women of any age, but now even establishment medicine agrees that it’s a costly, nearly useless exam for most women under 50. The reasons are complicated, but basically the test detects very few tumors and saves very few lives, and meanwhile it exposes women to massive amounts of dangerous radiation.
According to Robert Aronowitz, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, “You need to screen 1,900 women in their 40s for 10 years in order to prevent one death from breast cancer, and in the process you will have generated more than 1000 false positives and all the overtreatment they entail.”
In other words, the test is incredibly inaccurate. A false positive means the test indicates you have cancer when in fact you don’t. It means return visits to the doctor, additional tests, biopsies, missed time at work, and several days of terror during which you think you’ve got cancer. After the age of 50 (or after menopause) the test is somewhat more useful, but nothing to brag about.
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And let me underline this: women under 50 endure a thousand false positives for every life saved by a “true positive” — a mammogram test where the woman indeed has cancer and is treated successfully.
Meanwhile, 10 years of screening exposes you to about half the radiation you would have received had you been standing a mile away from the center of the atomic bomb that destroyed the whole city of Hiroshima. In other words, you’re bombarded with one heck of a lot of deadly, cancer-causing radiation. If it weren’t a medical test they’d call it murder.
My friend Bill Henderson recommends a test you can do by mail, from your home, that he says is more accurate and useful. You can get the details in a Special Report we publish called How to Cure Almost Any Cancer at Home for $5.15 a Day. (Click on that link to learn more about the report.) The test doesn’t specifically reveal which body part has cancer cells, but it lets you know you’ve got cancer somewhere — and you can proceed to get rid of it with the inexpensive home treatments Bill recommends.
It really is an amazing home system for defeating cancer. I’ve known Bill for years and he’s a man of high integrity. He’s not in this for the money. He wants to help people. You owe it to yourself to learn about his approach.
Meanwhile, I could go on at great length about mammograms (and I will in a future issue). But for now what I find depressing about this debate is that so many poorly informed consumers demand MORE of the very treatments that are killing them.
The problem is not just mammograms or breast cancer. ALL X-rays of any kind increase your risk of cancer no matter what part of the body is exposed. Why do you think the technician leaves the room while the picture is being taken? The procedure is deadly. And generally we Americans get X-rayed far more than necessary.
In the past couple of decades the medical and dental professions have made an effort to reduce the number of X-rays and the dose of radiation per X-ray. You should do your part by avoiding them when you can.
Most readers of this newsletter know that radiation is used not only to detect problems like tumors and fractures but also to treat cancer. High doses of radiation damage and kill existing cancer cells, but as I just said, they can also cause surrounding healthy cells to mutate. It’s very likely that radiation treatment actually increases your risk of more cancer sometime in the future — either a return of the original type of cancer or the birth of a new type you didn’t have before.
The American Cancer Society — a strong supporter of conventional treatments — provides some evidence for this on its website. The ACS explains that radiation therapy has the potential to cause DNA mutations that could lead to the development of cancer. It explains that some studies have associated radiation therapy with increased cases of thyroid cancer and early-onset breast cancer.
The ACS also notes that patients with Hodgkin disease who receive radiation therapy are at an increased risk because the treatment “often delivers lower radiation doses to many areas of the body.”
In the opinion of the ACS, radiation’s benefits generally outweigh the risk, but they admit additional research is needed to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk of secondary cancers.
Radiation even damages your heart!
Besides the cancer dangers, published studies confirm a link between radiation therapy for cancer and damage to the heart. Dr. Gofman saw this years ago. He wrote, “Medical radiation, received even at very low doses, is an important cause of death from Ischemic Heart Disease; the probable mechanism is radiation-induction of mutations in the coronary arteries, resulting in dysfunctional clones (mini-tumors) of smooth muscle cells.”
Dr. Gofman was speculating, but a 2007 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests he was on the right track. The study found that radiation therapy poses a long-term heart disease risk for breast cancer survivors.
The researchers compared breast cancer treatment options for 4,414 ten-year survivors of breast cancer and found that 21 percent of the group had some form of cardiovascular disease, with heart failure being the most common.
In general, those patients who were treated with radiation therapy between 1970 and 1986 had about two to three times the risk of heart disease. Although doctors employ radiation more carefully now, it’s a cancer treatment to avoid if you can.
I’ll give you my take on radiation, as well as most forms of chemotherapy (and keep in mind that I’m not a doctor). Cancer is a systemic disease. The whole body is sick. So merely destroying a tumor or killing cancer cells does little more than buy you time. In all too many cases, the cancer comes back.
That’s why in this newsletter and in the reports we publish we’re always talking about sound nutrition, detoxifying the body and strengthening the immune system. In the four years we’ve been publishing cancer information, every bit of evidence we’ve seen indicates this approach is at least as effective as the conventional treatments — and makes you a lot less miserable.