Breast Health: Busting Mammograms and Breast Cancer Awareness

By Dr. Michelle Lim, D.C.

Breast cancer awareness month.  This movement is evident when the world is drizzled in pink ribbons. Breast walks/5Ks/marathons begin, sports teams integrate pink into their shoulder pads and helmets, while make-up products promote their “limited edition” pink container, as do various foods and products cutely display the signature pink ribbon. But how much good does making people “aware” really do?  Does it even change anything despite empowering people to have hope?

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages. Create your Early Detection Plan to receive reminders to do breast self-exams, and schedule your clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history.”

MAMMOGRAMS

Mammograms are the gold standard for screening Breast Cancer.  It’s the preferred method of most medical doctors and the use  of it is promoted everywhere-on the radio, tv, magazines, at breast cancer charities and mainly those involved with “breast cancer awareness.”

Their logic, goes like this:  If we can catch breast cancer in its early stages, then we can actively eliminate the malignant breast tissue.

Makes sense…If only, mammograms were accurate and if the benefits outweighed the risks.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MAMMOGRAMS

According to Canceractive.com, Mammograms do more harm than good.

2013 study from the Oxford University, found that the mortality statistics did not decline in those who had been screened with mammograms.

In 2012, the prominent Nordic Cochrane Centre  produced an informational leaflet on mammogram screenings.  This can be viewed here.

Published in PubMed, the Cochrane database, the problem with mammograms is:

  1. false positives

  2. it leads to over diagnosis of breast cancer

  3. over treatment 

  4. unnecessary treatment

  5. more than 200 women will experience psychological distress

Cancer Risks from Breast Compression As early as 1928, physicians were warned to handle “cancerous breasts with care— for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading cancer. Nevertheless, mammography entails tight and often painful compression of the breast, particularly in premenopausal women. This may lead to distant and lethal spread of malignant cells by rupturing small blood vessels in or around small, as yet undetected breast cancers. (Source)

Radiation Risks Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. John Gofman, believed that up to half of all cancers was caused by unnecessary radiation primarily related to diagnostic X-rays.

According to the US Journal of Radiation Research, mammography involves a different type of radiation than that used in ordinary X-rays: A low energy form of ionising radiation. This can pass more readily through tissues but is up to five times more harmful than standard X-rays.

Mammograms are merely x-rays but have a cumulative build-up effect.  The American College of Clinical Thermography: A Literature Review and Commentary on the Current Status of Mammography, the level of exposure when both breasts are photographed -about 1 rad-i is recorded as almost 1000 times higher than one chest x-ray, and lucent pre-menopausal breast tissue has been shown to be especially sensitive to radiation.  Each rad of radiation exposure has been shown to increase breast cancer risk by a little over 1%.

In an article in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers claimed the radiation dose from mammograms may actually cause breast cancer in women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer.

A SAFER FORM OF BREAST SCREENING

Breast thermography is a diagnostic procedure that images the breasts to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.  It’s as safe as having your picture taken.

Thermography is a physiological test that measures the infrared heat emitted by your body and translates this information into thermal images. Thermography does not require mechanical compression or ionizing radiation, and can detect signs of physiological changes due to inflammation and/or increased tumor related blood flow approximately 8-10 years before mammography or a physical exam can detect a mass.

What studies show:

  1. An abnormal infrared image is also the single most important marker of high risk for developing  breast cancer

  2. 8 times more significant than a first order family history of the disease(5).

  3. A persistent abnormal thermogram caries with it a 22x higher risk of future breast cancer.

  4. When added to a woman’s regular breast health checkups, a 61% increased survival rate has been realized.

  5. Finally, when used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography) 95% of early stage cancers will be detected.

Gaea Powell, a Board Certified Medical Thermographer and film maker with a passion for educating women about breast cancer screening and prevention states: Thermography is a physiological test, so it allows you to look for physiological changes at an early stage. As we know, when you go to the doctor’s office, the first thing they want you to do is be weighed, have your blood pressure taken and have your temperature taken. Those are physiological tests that can be monitored for stability over time. It’s the same type of process. Every single person has their own unique thermal vascular roadmap, and thermography allows us to watch that roadmap over time.

Powell has previously served as Chief of Staff for Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to him becoming governor of California, and she also spent a number of years working in the film industry.  Having lost her mother to breast cancer, she has a high risk of getting breast cancer herself, so after much research, she was led to Breast Thermography.

“I did a lot of research at that time… almost 20 years ago. What I realized is that a mammogram would just let me know I already had cancer. I was also concerned about the repeated radiation year after year, and then the compression [of the breast tissue]…Luckily, in 1995, I discovered thermography.”

After using thermography for 17 years, Powell changed careers to empower women with other options.

“I knew starting with a physiological screening like thermography was a much wiser option, and just made good sense. I was determined to educate women and doctors regarding its proven benefits.

As I continued down this path, I began sharing my Thermogram comparative case studies with doctors, who now utilize the technology. These case studies clearly prove that women who were alerted to physiological risks at an early stage could lower their risk, some within just a few months, after they were given an opportunity to take action by partnering with a progressive doctor and utilizing preventative strategies.

I also have Thermogram case studies indicating the highest risk of cancer being present, confirmed by MRI then biopsy. These patient’s mammograms failed to detect their cancers year after year.

The culture that we’ve created is, basically cross your fingers and hope your mammogram doesn’t tell you that you already have cancer. To me, that’s insane.”

HOW THERMOGRAPHY IS UTILIZED

Although thermography can indicate the presence of potential cancer nearly 10 years before it would ever show up on a mammogram, it’s important to understand that it does NOT diagnose breast cancer.

It’s a physiological tool, meant to track your unique temperature data over time, and changes in temperature and symmetry can alert you that changes are taking place, for better or worse.

According to Dr. Mercola: Higher temperature readings indicate higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to cancer. So, if your Thermogram shows areas of high inflammation, it doesn’t mean you have cancer, but it lets you know you need to address that inflammation to avoid deterioration, and in some cases that the area needs further evaluation.

One of the main things your evaluating doctor will look for is stability and symmetry over time, which is why Thermograms are recommended at regular intervals. That way, you’re collecting data that can be analyzed and evaluated over the years.

CURRENT HURDLES FOR THERMOGRAPHY

As taken from Mercola.com: Powell is pushing to get thermography recognized and used in adjunct to other screening methods, and to have it be as universally transparent as some of the other modalities. For example, if you were to have a mammogram, an ultrasound, or an MRI, you can then send it to another location—say another doctor or specialist—and it can be evaluated. She’s hoping thermographic images will at some point be accepted and used in the same way. At present, most doctors’ are misinformed and their familiarity with thermography is poor, so they automatically dismiss it.

One of the problems with the traditional thermography report is that it is not standardized and the infrared images cannot be read by other physicians due to different software. Gaea has started to address this by creating an elegant interactive report that provides both the rainbow and gray scale thermal images for easier understanding.  This system also allows any doctor with the software, anywhere in the world to engage the temperature data and evaluation tools, so they can interact with the uploaded image.

HOW TO FIND A THERMOGRAPHER

Locate a Board Certified Thermographer through a not-for-profit thermography organization, such as the International Academy of Clinical Thermology (IACT).  Non-profit schools don’t endorse specific IR cameras, software or require their students to utilize exclusive evaluation services.  This allows thermographers the opportunity to do their own research in regard to equipment and software, and to interview and select their own evaluation doctors.

REDUCING BREAST INFLAMMATION

If your thermographic image indicates that you have inflammation in an area of your breasts, here’s some things you can do to help reduce breast inflammation, as well as help reduce overall chronic inflammation in the body:

  1. Balance hormone levels

  2. optimizing your Vitamin D levels

  3. lymphatic drainage

  4. lymphatic massage

*You should work with an integrative practitioner who can guide you and make recommendations for the most appropriate lifestyle changes, depending on your situation.

WHY YOU SHOULD THINK BEFORE YOU PINK

So there you go, ladies and gentleman.  My goal is not to sway or scare you away from the preferred form of breast cancer screening, but merely to inform you.  I just want the public to realize that there are other forms of health care and health care screenings besides the most commercialized method. Only you can make that choice to vaccinate, not vaccinate, to medicate not to medicate or to mammogram or not.  I just ask that you do research before jumping into a conventional screening or treatment plan just because it’s trendy.  I only seek to empower you with options.  From there, you can make educated choices that is in line with your values and intellectual understanding.

I’d also like to offer some light on the holistic model of health.  I suggest everyone watch Pink Ribbons, Inc. (it used to be available on Netflix).

If we understand that we are capable of being 100% healthy without the use of intervention, you will see why I advocate natural methods of healing rather than relying on a “miracle drug”, shot or surgery.

If food is our medicine, then it’s clear why we’re sick.  We’re constantly bombarded with cheap, fast, processed, bleached food that is deprived of nutrients and filled with chemicals, toxins and pesticides in the name of bigger, cheaper and convenient “things to eat”.  But is this really food?

Also, we are surrounded by toxins and chemicals everyday from the paint in our houses, the pollution from traffic and by the crap we slather in our skin and hair.  This is why I call BS on various Cosmetic Companies who like to slap on the breast cancer awareness slogan in hopes of “finding a cure”, even though they themselves fail to remove ingredients and chemicals in their products that are known carcinogens.  I invite you to check out Skin Deep, a Cosmetic Database.  Here you can see what exactly is in your makeup, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner.

This is why Think Before You Pink exists.  They are a Breast Cancer Action Group that “calls for accountability and transparency in breast cancer fundraising since our early work following the money of pink ribbon promotions.”  They go “toe-to-toe with corporate giants and challenge pink washing so they can put patients before corporate profits” because they are not “beholden to any corporate funder”.  Please check out their website. Thinkbeforeyoupink.org

Instead of waiting around for a “cure”, we must eat clean food and demand safer ingredients in our everyday household products.  We must find the cause of why women get breast cancer and try to solve the problem from that perspective rather than waiting for a new chemical drug that will just deplete our immune system and kill our healthy cells.  Because even if there was a “cure”, if we continue to eat toxins, smear on crap, and inhale pollution, we would continue on the never ending cycle of cancer and disease.

Wellness is not an endpoint destination.  It lies on a continuum that can be swayed toward health or away from it.  Don’t wait for any diagnostic test to tell you if you are at risk for cancer and then change your life.  Stop it before it even starts.


Resources:

Active Breast Cancer

Informational leaflet on Mammograms

Gaea Powell on Mercola.com

International Academy of Clinical Thermology (IACT)

Cancer Prevention Coalition

Think Before You Pink

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Skin Deep

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