From Dr. Mercola:
An annual mammogram is the conventional go-to “prevention” strategy for breast cancer. But, researchers increasingly agree that mammography is ineffective at best, and harmful at worst.
Unfortunately, breast cancer is big business, and mammography is one of its primary profit centers. This is why the industry is so reluctant to admit its many flaws and dangers.
The featured documentary, “Happygram,” reveals the oft-ignored side of breast cancer screening with mammography — the fact that more often than not, it fails to identify cancer in women with dense breast tissue.
I’ve written many articles on the hazards and drawbacks of mammograms, including the risks of false positives, and the facts that ionizing radiation causes cancer, and that mammograms have no impact on mortality rates.
In this article, I will focus on the risks associated with false negatives, meaning you have cancer but the mammogram fails to show it, and who’s at greatest risk for receiving a misleading “Happygram.”
For Dense-Breasted Women, the ‘Happygram’ Is Often Wrong
“Happygram” is a term used to describe the form letter women receive stating that their mammograms are “normal.” Alas, for thousands of women with dense breasts, their Happygram turned out to be anything but.
The producer of this film, Julie Marron, conceived the idea of making a documentary on mammography’s failings after her friend, New York writer Hallie Leighton, was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer after many years of “normal” mammograms.
Leighton died in 2013 at the age of 42 while the documentary was being filmed.
The film features several women who were not informed of their breast density, or of the increased cancer risk that dense breast poses, or of the fact that mammograms can — and frequently do — miss cancer when you have dense breasts.
This includes someone on my staff, Cindy Bevington Olmstead, a Midwest journalist whose 5 cm lesion was missed by a mammogram two years in a row. Olmstead was lying on a gurney outside the operating room, waiting to have her breast removed when she opened a piece of mail brought to her by a neighbor.
In it was a “Happygram” from the breast center that did her latest mammogram, just three weeks earlier. “We are pleased to inform you that we have found no evidence of cancer in your breast,” the letter said.
As noted by Marron:
“What stands out in all the stories in this film is that everyone’s cancer was missed by a mammogram, and you just don’t hear about that when breast cancer awareness month rolls around.
We hope to highlight the importance of knowing your breast density, so that no woman ever has to go through what these women did.”
Withholding Information Places Women at Risk for False Negatives
Forty-nine percent of women have high breast tissue density,1 and mammography’s sensitivity for dense breasts is as low as 27 percent.2 This means nearly 75 percent of dense-breasted women are at risk for a cancer being missed