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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Cost and Your Health: Women Listen Up!

On occasion I listen to progressive talk show host Randi Rhodes, heard on my local Clear Channel station that carries Air America.

This is an odd mix, Clear Channel carrying Air America. I'm just glad in this market they do.

One thing I like about Randi is her sometimes outrageous take on things and that great burlesque-like song she plays. It's the Bounce Your Boobies song, now available as a ringtone.

In the same vein I wish Randi would be more open to health concepts other than from mainstream medical myopia.

It's in this genre I'd like to put forth some facts about the real cost of breast health screening. I've been waving this flag for over a decade, as well as asking why the 'cure' didn't come about in 1972 as promised.

My hope too is that women wake-up and smell the burnt flesh before "Race for the Cure" gets you again this year. This ad campaign and mammogram deter the effort from the need for action on prevention and cure.

It is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and several European national health plans that recommend screening mammography no more than every two years AND only after menopause.


Here are some facts:
  • Yearly screening mammograms aren't safe, they expose you to radiation and breast cancer.
  • Yearly screening mammograms aren't cost effective to society. The mammography industry could gross $1 billion per year if every woman aged 40-49 was screened yearly.
  • Yearly screening mammograms aren't safe environmentally.
  • Less than 10 percent of all breast cancers occur in women age 40-49.
  • A major medical journal reports that the cost effectiveness (defined as the number of dollars spent so one person can live one year longer) of mammograms for women under 55 is $82,000.19.
  • The current cost to detect one breast cancer is $195,000, using screening mammograms.
  • Dr. Charles Wright of Vancouver (Canada) General Hospital estimates that the cost of saving one life by mass screening is $1.25 million.
  • Several studies show no advantage to yearly mammograms. Mass screening once every two or three years offers the same reduction in deaths ( the famous five-year mortality scale). There is also less radiation hazard to individuals and society, and at far less cost.
  • Many of the cancers found by mammographic screening are in situ cancers. Women with in situ cancers rarely die from them.
  • With or without early detection and treatment, 93 percent survive more than five years.
  • When in situ breast cancers are found by mammogram, treated, and added to the statistical base, breast cancer cure rates and longevity statistics improve.

Consider why mammography is praised: It has done what research into cures for breast cancer have failed to do.

The mammography campaign leads you believe there is progress in battling this dis-ease. Finding and treating the increasing numbers of breast cancer cases is NOT progress!

My thanks to John Gofman, PhD, MD and Susun Weed for their efforts to improve breast health based on fact.

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