Screening Mammography Found Useless in New Study

Breast_Cancer_AwarenessScreening Mammography Found Useless in New Study

by Jeffrey Dach MD

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an advertising campaign for  screening mammography with the assumption of benefit.   As you will read below, this assumption many not be correct.  We now have many studies showing screening mammography does little to reduce mortality from breast cancer. (1-8)

Above left image: Pink Ribbon, courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Latest Study Showing Screening Mammography Has No Benefit

The latest is the July 2011 study by Autier published in the British Medical Journal showing that screening mammography had no impact on mortality from breast cancer in screened populations. (1)  The authors found that breast cancer mortality was “comparable” in three pairs of similar European countries despite a 10-15 year difference in implementing screening mammography.

“Countries of each pair had similar healthcare services and prevalence of risk factors for breast cancer mortality but differing implementation of mammography screening, with a gap of about 10- 15 years. ” (1)

“From 1989 to 2006, deaths from breast cancer decreased by 29% in Northern Ireland and by 26% in the Republic of Ireland; by 25% in the Netherlands and by 20% in Belgium and 25% in Flanders; and by 16% in Sweden and by 24% in Norway.” (1)

“Breast cancer mortality in paired European countries with similar socioeconomic status and access to treatment were comparable after 1989, despite a 10-15 year difference in implementation of mammography screening”  (1)

These conclusions had already been found in previous studies (5-8)

ductal_carcinoma_mammogramA Radiologist Speaks Out- Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment with Little Mortality Benefit

John Keen, MD, attending radiologist at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois says: (11-12)(4):

“The problem here is that screening has not decreased the incidence of advanced cancer. Screening inherently misses the fast growing and catches the slow growing; hence, screening causes overdiagnosis with little mortality benefit,” (11-12)

Dr Keen explained further.

“Overdiagnosis of small screen-detected tumors that would never become clinically evident results in overtreatment with drugs and needless radiation, which can cause heart disease and increase future deaths,”

Dr. Keen added.

“The trials have not shown any overall mortality benefit, nor is there any trial evidence to justify aggressive annual screening.  Screening also increases overall mastectomies and lumpectomies because of over diagnosis. ” (11-12)

Iodine Supplementation – Real Breast Cancer Prevention

Rather than rely on screening mammography which cannot prevent or reduce mortality from breast cancer, the real preventive program includes Iodine supplementation and the following:

1) Iodine Supplementation is preventive of breast cancer.
Buy Iodoral – Iodine Supplement) 90 Tablet Bottle on Amazon

(note: requires Iodine level and physician’s supervision)

2) Vitamin D Supplementation is preventive of breast cancer.
Buy Vitamin D3 (note: requires Vitamin D level and physician’s supervision)

3) Avoiding Xeno-Estrogens and carcinogenic chemicals in the environment is preventive.

4) Progesterone Deficiency is a risk factor for breast cancer.
Bio-Identical Progesterone is cancer protective .(9-10)

5) Low Serum Selenium level is a risk factor for breast cancer, and Selenium Supplementation is protectiveBuy Selenium Supplements Here.

6) Supplements such as Indole 3-Carbinol, Di-Indole-Methane, are also useful here.  Buy Dim Detox.


Update 2014: Swiss Medical Board on Screening Mammography:

Swiss Medical Board Screening Mammography Report advises against introducing any new screening programs, and a time limit on existing programs which will then be fazed out.

Article in New England Journal 2014: 
Abolishing Mammography Screening Programs? A View from the Swiss Medical Board  Nikola Biller-Andorno, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter Jüni, M.D. April 16, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1401875: Quote:

The Swiss Medical Board’s report was made public on February 2, 2014 . It acknowledged that systematic mammography screening might prevent about one death attributed to breast cancer for every 1000 women screened, even though there was no evidence to suggest that overall mortality was affected.

It is easy to promote mammography screening if the majority of women believe that it prevents or reduces the risk of getting breast cancer and saves many lives through early detection of aggressive tumors.4  We would be in favor of mammography screening if these beliefs were valid. Unfortunately, they are not, and we believe that women need to be told so. From an ethical perspective, a public health program that does not clearly produce more benefits than harms is hard to justify.

Recommendations of the Swiss Medical Board:

1. It is not recommended that systematic mammography screening programs be introduced.
2. A time limit is to be set on existing systematic mammography screening programs.
3. All forms of mammography screening are to be evaluated with regard to quality.
4. Likewise, for all forms of mammography screening, a previous thorough medical evaluation and a comprehensible clarification with presentation of the desirable and undesirable effects are recommended.

Link to pdf of Swiss Medical Report: Swiss_Medical_Board_Mammography_screening_Report_2013-12-15

Articles with related interest:

Laura Esserman Questions Screening Mammography

The Untold Message of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Prevention and Iodine Supplementation

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Vitamin D

Iodine for Breast Cancer, Overwhelming Evidence

Links and References

Published online 2011 July 28.

Breast cancer mortality in neighbouring European countries with different levels of screening but similar access to treatment: trend analysis of WHO mortality database

BMJ. 2011; 343: d4411. Philippe Autier, research director,1 Mathieu Boniol, senior statistician,1 Anna Gavin, director,2 and Lars J Vatten, professor3 1International Prevention Research Institute, 95 Cours Lafayette, 69006 Lyon, France 2Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK 3Department of Public Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

To compare trends in breast cancer mortality within three pairs of neighbouring European countries in relation to implementation of screening.Design Retrospective trend analysis.

Setting Three country pairs (Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) v Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands v Belgium and Flanders (Belgian region south of the Netherlands), and Sweden v Norway).Data sources WHO mortality database on cause of death and data sources on mammography screening, cancer treatment, and risk factors for breast cancer mortality.

Main outcome measures Changes in breast cancer mortality calculated from linear regressions of log transformed, age adjusted death rates. Joinpoint analysis was used to identify the year when trends in mortality for all ages began to change.

Results From 1989 to 2006, deaths from breast cancer decreased by 29% in Northern Ireland and by 26% in the Republic of Ireland; by 25% in the Netherlands and by 20% in Belgium and 25% in Flanders; and by 16% in Sweden and by 24% in Norway. The time trend and year of downward inflexion were similar between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between the Netherlands and Flanders. In Sweden, mortality rates have steadily decreased since 1972, with no downward inflexion until 2006. Countries of each pair had similar healthcare services and prevalence of risk factors for breast cancer mortality but differing implementation of mammography screening, with a gap of about 10- 15 years.

Conclusions The contrast between the time differences in implementation of mammography screening and the similarity in reductions in mortality between the country pairs suggest that screening did not play a direct part in the reductions in breast cancer mortality.

Conclusions and policy implications

The contrast between the timing of breast cancer screening being implemented and the similarity in mortality reduction between the country pairs do not suggest that a large proportion of the mortality reduction after 1990 can be attributed to mammography screening. Improvements in treatment and in the efficiency of healthcare systems may be more plausible explanations.

Our study adds further population data to the evidence of studies that have used various designs and found that mammography screening by itself has little detectable impact on mortality due to breast cancer.14 44 51 52

What is already known on this topic Breast cancer mortality is decreasing in many countries but the association with mammography screening is difficult to appraise

Cervical cancer mortality decreased earlier and more strongly in those Nordic countries that implemented nationwide screening programmes compared with delayed screening

What this study adds

Breast cancer mortality in paired European countries with similar socioeconomic status and access to treatment were comparable after 1989, despite a 10-15 year difference in implementation of mammography screening

The downward trends in mortality started before or shortly after the implementation of the screening programme The greatest reductions were in women aged 40-49, regardless of the availability of screening in this age group; reductions in women aged 70-79 were highly variable and did not correlate with the timing of screening in younger age groups


Mammograms Not Effective In Lowering Breast Cancer Mortality

Are screening mammograms effective in reducing deaths from breast cancer?
The mainstream media and the medical-industrial complex would have you believe that mammograms are the best thing you can do to diagnose breast cancer at an early stage. The theory is that an early diagnosis leads to a better treatment outcome. In order to answer the above question, researchers compared the trends in breast cancer mortality within three pairs of neighboring European countries in relation to mammogram screening. The participants were grouped into three pairs; Northern Ireland (U.K.) v. Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands v. Belgium and Flanders, and Sweden v. Norway. Each paired group had one country that was using mammography screening since 1990 while the other country did not adopt screening recommendations until years later. The World Health Organization mortality database along with data sources on mammography screening and cancer treatment were used for analysis.


Is Breast Cancer Screening Actually Beneficial?

It is the expected norm within the medical community that women — especially those over 40 or with a family history of breast cancer — should get their annual mammography without fail. But how effective of a tool is it in actually saving lives? According to a recent study by an international team of researchers at various European institutions, the answer is that it’s not especially effective.

Breast cancer screening was not shown to have a major impact on the reduction of breast cancer mortality in the recent past.1

While the mortality rates from breast cancer have certainly gone down in most developed countries in the last two decades, it would seem that the lower numbers might not be attributable to mammography.


4) deleted

Kalager M, Zelen M, Langmark F, Adami HO. Effect of screening mammography on breast-cancer mortality in Norway. N Engl J Med

Autier P, Héry C, Haukka J, Boniol M, Byrnes G. Advanced breast cancer and breast cancer mortality in randomized controlled trials on mammography screening. J Clin Oncol 200927:5919-23.

Esserman L, Shieh Y, Thompson I. Rethinking screening for breast cancer and prostate cancer. JAMA 2009;vol302:1685-92.

Jørgensen KJ, Zahl PH, Gøtzsche PC. Breast cancer mortality in organised mammography screening in Denmark: comparative study. BMJ 2010;:c1241.
Conclusions We were unable to find an effect of the Danish screening programme on breast cancer mortality.

Roles for estrogen and progesterone in breast cancer prevention
D Joseph Jerry Breast Cancer Research 2007, 9:102

The protective side of progesterone.  Gianluigi Ferretti*, Alessandra Felici and Francesco Cognetti  Division of Medical Oncology A, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy Breast Cancer Research 2007, 9:402

Screening Mammography Benefits and Harms in Spotlight Again by Nick Mulcahy

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2009 Apr 2;9:18.
What is the point: will screening mammography save my life? by Keen JD, Keen JE.

Jeffrey Dach MD
7450 Griffin Road, SUite 180
Davie, Fl 33314

Click Here for: Dr Dach’s Online Store for Pure Encapsulations Supplements
Click Here for: Dr Dach’s Online Store for Nature’s Sunshine Supplements

Disclaimer click here:

The reader is advised to discuss the comments on these pages with his/her personal physicians and to only act upon the advice of his/her personal physician. Also note that concerning an answer which appears as an electronically posted question, I am NOT creating a physician — patient relationship. Although identities will remain confidential as much as possible, as I can not control the media, I can not take responsibility for any breaches of confidentiality that may occur.

Link to this article:

Copyright (c) 2011-2013 Jeffrey Dach MD All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced on the internet without permission, provided there is a link to this page and proper credit is given.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of significance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.