The worries of an elderly woman

Recently, a woman I know who is well into her 80s confessed that she was worried about breast cancer and feeling she should have a mammogram – but wasn’t looking forward to that at all. I hope I helped her by explaining that a woman of her age should stop worrying about cancer – as any cancer that appeared at her age would be slow growing and so could be ignored. There was certainly no guarantee that treating it would extend her life in any way. And as for the mammogram, she should take note of what I have written in The Cancer Survivor’s Bible –

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The Mammogram
The mammogram test, in which breasts are X-rayed, has also been severely criticized for squeezing and bruising breast tissue— and in that way actually promoting the problem that it is supposed to be testing for. Physical trauma is considered to be one possible cause of cancer, and if there is cancer present it may also act to make the tumor more aggressive. Cancer incidence has been shown in some surveys to be higher among women who have annual check ups than among those who have never had a mammogram. The only group of women for whom regular mammograms have been shown to have any value is in women over 65, and then the degree of benefit is considered to be marginal.
Professor Michael Baum, a leading British cancer researcher, is horrified by the extent to which mammograms are promoted, without any evidence that they are beneficial, and despite a great deal of evidence that they pick up a great many non-invasive tumors which that are then dealt with unnecessarily by radical surgery (reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 96, No. 20, 1490-1491, October 20, 2004).
Cornelia J. Baines, M.D., deputy director of the Canadian National Breast Screening Study, writes: “An unacknowledged harm [of mammography] is that for up to 11 years after the initiation of breast cancer screening in women aged 40-49 years, screened women face a higher death rate from breast cancer than unscreened control women, although that is contrary to what one would expect …. Shouldn’t women aged 40-49 years know that, three years after screening starts, their chance of death from breast cancer is more than double that for unscreened control women? Shouldn’t they be informed that it will take 16 years after they start screening to reduce their chance of death from breast cancer by a mere 9 per cent?”
For a fuller account of what should perhaps be referred to as ‘the mammography scandal’ go to

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