Why So Many Mixed Messages on Mammogram Benefits?
Dr. Joseph Mercola
October 10, 2014
Earlier this year, one of the largest and longest studies of mammography to date — involving 90,000 women followed for 25 years — found that mammograms have no impact on breast cancer mortality.1
Over the course of the study, the death rate from breast cancer was virtually identical between those who received an annual mammogram and those who did not, while 22 percent of screen-detected invasive breast cancers were over-diagnosed, leading to unnecessary treatment. The researchers concluded “the data suggest that the value of mammography screening should be reassessed.”2
A Cochrane Collaboration review also found no evidence that mammography screening has an effect on overall mortality, which, taken together, seriously calls into question whether mammography screening really benefits women.3
Public health agencies, however, have been slow to update their recommendations. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for average-risk women starting at the age of 40, while the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms every other year starting at age 50.
The conflicting recommendations send women mixed messages on whether screening is helpful or harmful, yet, earlier this year the Swiss Medical Board made a clear-cut recommendation: no more systematic mammography.