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Breast cancer prevention has gone from science and good medicine to a powerful business. I know that I as a spouse of a breast cancer survivor, this may be a bit of a controversial blog for those who have had their cancer caught in the early stages of the disease. I don't doubt that it has given those women a higher chance of survival. However, please read on.
High profits are driving the propaganda for mammograms. Capitalism is also driving innovation, something socialized medicine would never consider. Newer methods, such as digital mammography, have significantly lowered radiation doses and the need for extreme compression of the breast.
Recent studies have shown that yearly mammography increases the risk of breast cancer by 1 to 3% per year, depending on the study. This is significant, since the effect is additive as mentioned earlier. Even at 1% per year, in 10 years that is a 10% increased risk. For women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer and those with known impaired DNA repair disorders, the risk is even greater.
Safer alternatives include thermography, ultrasounds, careful self-examinations and MRI scan of the breast. MRI scanning has been shown to provide significantly better examinations of the breast without the use of radiation. For example, as a pilot for over 35 years, and others that travel many miles on aircraft for long hours during the year, have at least five times the radiation being so high in the atmosphere, and I have had my aversion to subject myself to additional radiation from routine mammograms. MRI scanning is especially useful for women with dense breast tissue, such as pre-menopausal women and those with significant fibrocystic disease. And no "smashed" breast is required for a proper mammogram!
The problem is that most insurance will not pay for MRI breast scans as a routine screening procedure. They will pay if the conventional mammogram suggests a need.
If you can do the less conventional testing as mentioned above, you'll subject yourself to less radiation exposure and to have a better chance of not getting your breasts "smashed" and rupturing naturally growing cancer cells in the ducts (as our immune system will locate them if your body is working properly) from the conventional routine breast mammograms. Please ask for unconventional testing from your health care provider for less risk of increasing your breast cancer risks.
What I also find fascinating is that there is no routine testing in pre-menopausal women for hormone replacement. For the post-menopausal woman considering hormone replacement, it is essential. Unfortunately, most doctors, even gynecologists, never test these women; they just write a standard prescription and hope for the best.
Most of the hormones used contain estradiol, the most powerful of the estrogens, as the primary hormone. It is also the one most connected with breast cancer. Estriol is much weaker and may even protect against breast cancer.
Before taking a supplement, I would suggest a comprehensive female hormone test ( I can order that for you) that measures all three of the female hormones, testosterone, DHEA, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and the sex hormone metabolic products. Once the test results come back, nutritional supplementation and going towards a more naturally minded practitioner to better design and adjust your hormone replacement from a compounding pharmacy.
Of special importance are the sex hormone metabolic products. These include 2-hydroxyestrone and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone. The latter of these is associated with a significantly higher risk of breast cancer (and other cancers). This test measures the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone. High ratios are protective against breast cancer and vice versa.
For bone density tests for women, there are better tests that do not involve special x-ray machines. In fact, better measurements can be obtained from blood tests. One of the best involves measurements of pyridinium cross-links and deoxypridinoline (DPD).
Pyridinium is a substance found in both bone and cartilage and deoxypyridinoline is found predominately in bone. High levels of DPD indicate osteoporosis when other bone disorders are not present.
Pyridinium is elevated in a number of conditions including osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and chronic alcohol abuse. These tests are very valuable in following responses to treatments.
Also, there is a new study that provides strong evidence that the same virus responsible for cervical cancer and some neck cancers causes breast cancer. Scientists in this study found human papillomavirus (HPV) in 25 of 29 samples of breast cancer tumors using a very sophisticated technique. Infections by the virus are also increased by smoking, family history and female hormones as are seen in breast cancer. Likewise, high levels of 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone are also associated with an increased incidence of HPV infection, just as with breast cancer. Another reason to have yourself tested.
Useful information with alternative testing may cost you some money, but it is well worth knowing that they might save your life. I offer nutritional programs, detoxing and sending hair tissue to a reputable laboratory and hormone testing to rectify your body's need for the right minerals and foods so that your body can prevent future disease.