95 percent of "preventive" mastectomies offer no benefit, study finds

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: mastectomies, scam, health news

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) A new study shows that the increasingly popular practice of "preventive mastectomy" in non-cancerous breasts provides no benefit to the vast majority of women.

"It's important for women to understand that, except for one subset of breast cancer patients, they don't need to do this," said lead author Isabelle Bedrosian of University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Hopefully, it'll reassure patients wondering if they should."

Approximately 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the United States each year, and another 200,000 cases are diagnosed. Because cancer in one breast is known to increase the risk of cancer recurrence in the other breast, doctors are increasingly recommending that cancer survivors opt to have both breasts removed as a "preventive" measure. And women are opting for it in huge numbers, seeking the peace of mind that it is said to offer.

The number of preventive mastectomies in the United States increased two-and-a-half-fold between 1998 and 2003. Today, 11 percent of all women undergoing a mastectomy on a cancerous breast choose to have the non-cancerous breast removed as well. Analysts have attributed this increase to more advanced screening techniques that detect cancers smaller and earlier; popularization of genetic screening and the idea that some genes may predispose families to breast cancer; and wider public acceptance of plastic surgery combined with advances in reconstructive technology.

Yet while it has been strongly established that elective mastectomy does reduce the risk of breast-cancer recurrence, there has been no research to suggest that it actually lengthens a woman's life span.

"We have not had real data to guide us," Bedrosian said. "We can't sit down with a woman and say, 'If you do this, this is your expected benefit.' And when we don't have those data, then biases become the big drivers of decision making."

In the new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Bedrosian and colleagues analyzed the records of 107,106 women in the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry. All the women had undergone a mastectomy to treat breast cancer of Stage III or lower; 8,902 had chosen to have a healthy breast removed, as well.

After controlling for other risk factors, the researchers found only a small difference in survival rates between women who had chosen to have two breasts removed and women who had chosen to have only one removed. Upon further analysis, they discovered that this benefit was only present in women under the age of 50 with estrogen receptor-negative, early-stage tumors. In this group, elective mastectomy increased the survival rate by 4.8 percent, amounting to just under five lives saved for every 100 surgeries.

Elective mastectomy provided no survival benefit to women outside this demographic.

The researchers believe that even when cancers recur, most women will not be killed by them but will instead die of other causes first. Only in women whose cancers lack estrogen receptors and who would otherwise have long lives ahead of them does recurrence appear to pose a serious threat to survival.

The most effective breast cancer drugs on the market are those that lower the body's production of estrogen, which fuels the growth of many cancers. Tumors that lack estrogen receptors do not depend on the hormone for their growth, however, meaning that women with these cancers cannot use the most effective drugs and tend to have higher mortality rates.

Breast-cancer specialist Larry Norton of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City expressed skepticism about the study's methodology and cautioned against doctors and patients giving it too much weight.

"This is an observational study, and hence it is impossible to control for confounding variables," Norton said, "and should not be used for individual clinical decisionmaking."

Norton admitted, however, that ethics make it impossible to perform a true controlled study on the question, since such an experiment might end up increasing cancer mortality in one group of participants.

Bedrosian disputed Norton's criticism, noting that the researchers used rigorous statistical analysis and controlled well for interference from other variables. She believes that the conclusions are, in fact, strong enough to help women make better-informed decisions about elective mastectomy.

"We looked at this in multiple different ways, and we got the same answer every time. And the results make good clinical sense. That adds another level of reassurance," she said. "Our hope is that when women hear the numbers, they will take a second look and decide not to go forward with a preventive mastectomy [in their healthy breast] if it won't give them a survival benefit."

Victor Vogel, national vice president for research at the American Cancer Society, said the results suggest that women should wait a full year before going through with the removal of a healthy breast.

"In a younger woman with [estrogen receptor]-negative disease, an [elective} mastectomy may be considered," he said. "In the vast majority of women older than 50 with ER-positive disease, prudent waiting is probably the most appropriate."

Bedrosian said that the point of the study was not to impose "a uniform mandate" that women should never get the procedure, but that their decisions must be well informed.

"This is still a decision to be made by the patient after talking with her doctor," Bedrosian said.

"We hope this study helps women make better decisions [and] provides some reassurance that perhaps a [preventive] mastectomy is not necessary, perhaps overly aggressive and perhaps a bit too much."

Sources for this story include:,85....

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.

Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...


Now Available at

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...


Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...


Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at

Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.