(NaturalNews) The American Cancer Society has admitted that the benefits of breast cancer screening have been overstated, even while refusing to rescind its endorsement of yearly mammograms for women over the age of 40.
In recent years, scientists have become extremely critical of U.S. health recommendations that women receive breast cancer screening every year. Screening can expose women to dangerous radiation, and current tests have high rates of false positive results — either detecting benign lumps and subjecting women to unnecessary biopsies and mental anguish, or detecting slow-growing cancers that would never have posed a health threat and subjecting women to dangerous and potentially life-altering cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiation and breast removal.
In November, the United States Preventive Service Task Force joined much of the health establishment and other First World countries in recommending that mammograms be given only once every two years, and only to women over 50.
While shying away from accepting this new recommendation, the American Cancer Society has acknowledged that the messages surrounding screening have been misleading: more screening is not always better, nor does screening always have positive consequences.
"Too often we do a disservice to women we want to help by simplifying the concepts of this disease with very simple messages," said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "Sometimes simple messages ... actually end up doing harm."
In spite of media portrayals, breast cancer is very rare in young women, and mammograms are better at detecting non-aggressive cancers than the more dangerous kind. Although a family history of breast cancer does increase cancer risk, most women diagnosed with the disease do not have such a family history.
Researchers are currently working to develop new, more accurate methods of cancer screening that are able to distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive breast cancers, and that have lower false positive rates.
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