Risks Of Mammography: Hidden Role Of The American Cancer Society

Gina Kolata, a New York Times columnist, has written a series of recent articles on mammography that warn against overscreening, but she has neglected to mention the crucial role of the American Cancer Society, says Samuel Epstein, M.D., chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has elected five radiologists as presidents. The organization serves the interests of several major mammogram manufacturers, such as Siemens, DuPont, General Electric, and Eastman Kodak.

International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine’s Dr. Epstein and Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D. emphasize that mammography is an avoidable cause of breast cancer in response to this bias.

ACS and its grantees fund research conducted by the mammography industry, and the industry serves on its advisory board. The ACS Breast Health Awareness Program is also a major supporter of DuPont; it sponsors television shows and other media productions promoting ACS literature for hospitals, clinics, medical organizations, and doctors; it produces educational films, and it aggressively lobbyes Congress for legislation promoting nationwide access to mammography.

There has always been a strong connection between the ACS and the mammography industry in nearly all of its actions. However, it ignores or attacks breast self examination (BSE), a safe and effective alternative that requires nurse or clinician training.

Women of all ages are being lured into mammography centers by ACS promotion, believing that mammography is their best chance of avoiding breast cancer. The ACS advertisement in a Massachusetts paper featured two women in their twenties who were cured nearly 100 percent of the time if they were detected early.

When questioned by reporter Kate Dempsey, the ACS communications director admitted that the advertisement was not based on a study, according to an article in Cancer published by Massachusetts Women’s Community. In an advertisement, you just say what you can to get women to get in the door. You exaggerate a point…Mammography today is a lucrative [and] highly competitive industry..”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the foremost charity watchdog, has reported that the ACS is more concerned about accumulating wealth than saving lives.”

Dr. Epstein says Gina Kolata was provided with this evidence on October 20th when she requested it. Although she published a series of articles after that, she made no reference to how the ACS hides the dangers of mammography from women across the country.

Women who follow the current guidelines for premenopausal screening would receive a total radiation dose of about 5 radium over a ten year period if they undergo routine mammography, warn Epstein and Bertell. The radiation exposure of a Japanese woman one mile from the epicenter of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs would be approximately the same.

“Mammography is an example of how the mainstream media and the cancer establishment are complicit in capturing unsuspecting women through powerful technological and pharmaceutical industries,” according to the report.

“Promotion of mammography screening is also a diversionary flag that legislators and women’s product corporations can rally around to show how much they care about women,” Drs. Epstein and Bertell explain. While studiously avoiding any mention of avoidable breast cancer risks, legislators and women’s product corporations are protesting how much they care about women.

As an alternative to mammography, a trained nurse should perform annual clinical breast examinations (CBE) and monthly breast self-examinations (BSE), both of which require training. In their opinion, this is a safe, effective, and affordable alternative to diagnostic mammography.

“Mammography doesn’t reduce breast cancer mortality, and such action is all the more crucial and overdue.” they argue.

“These low-cost clinics will enable women to obtain scientific evidence about the risks of breast cancer and how to prevent it,” write Epstein and Bertell.

This information is of particular importance, they say, in view of the high incidence of breast cancer, which has increased by 18% from 1975, in spite of the multi-billion dollar U.S. insurance and Medicare costs of mammography. Such funds should be diverted to establishing BSE clinics nationwide and providing public information on the wide range of avoidable causes of breast cancer.

As far back as 2001, this information was detailed in a scientific article published in the prestigious International Journal of Health Services titled “The Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography: Breast Examination As A Safe, Effective and Practical Alternative.” It was written by Dr. Epstein and Dr. Bertell, an internationally recognized radiation expert, along with Barbara Seaman, the founder and leader of women’s breast cancer advocacy.

M.D. Samuel S. Epstein, has also served as the chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and as a former president of the Rachel Carson Trust at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

For international contributions to cancer prevention, he received the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 and the Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal in 2005. The groundbreaking The Politics of Cancer (1979), published by Benbella Books: www.benbellabooks.com, and Toxic Beauty (2009, Benbella Books: www.benbellabooks.com) about carcinogens in cosmetics and personal care products, are among his many publications on cancer prevention.

In her field of Radiation Epidemiology, Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D. is an expert. Her qualifications include being the former President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, a board member of the International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, a member of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, and a member of the Cancer Prevention Coalition (U.S.). He’s been nominated for several awards, including the UN Environment Program, Global Five Hundred Awards and Right Livelihood Awards. Her book has been translated into five languages and she’s written over 100 papers.

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