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Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among American women
between the age of 40-55, and the high prevalence has spawned a very lucrative
industry; from mammography and other dangerous or invasive testing methods,
to “preventive” double mastectomies and cancer drugs.
Much effort is placed on trying to detect cancer at an earlier stage.
Unfortunately, the conventional recommendation to get regular mammograms has
shown to be more harmful than helpful, as research shows 10 times as many
women are harmed in some way compared to those whose lives are spared by
Is there a better way to prevent becoming a statistic?
Yes, there is, says Dr. Christiane Northrup, a practicing physician and
ob-gyn specialist who has dedicated a good portion of her life to helping
women take control of their health.
Dr. Northrup is also a New York Times best-seller author, and is a
prominent speaker on natural health issues, especially those related to
women, for whom breast health is a major issue.
Having grown up in a health-conscious family where her father was a
holistic dentist and her paternal aunt and uncle were conventional medical
doctors, she got a chance to see the difference between the two philosophies
Her father instilled in her the idea that “It’s not about living forever;
it’s about living well while you’re here,” and in order to do that, your
focus needs to be on living a healthy lifestyle, opposed to searching for and
spending your life trying to treat diseases as they crop up.
Dr. Northrup on Disease Screening as Health Care
Conventional medicine, with its focus on diagnosis and treatment of
disease, has the side effect of turning everything into a “condition” that
needs treatment. According to Dr. Northrup:
“[I]n my ob-gyn residency, I saw a couple of things. One, a woman’s
body was treated as a disease waiting to happen. Pregnancy was a disease. A
normal labor and birth was considered a retrospective diagnosis... Breasts
are treated as two pre-malignant lesions sitting on your chest. The whole
discussion of women’s health is, 'What can go wrong?'
...[W]e think that women’s health is disease screening. We think that
women’s health is pap smears [and] mammograms... [But] that’s not feeding
cells the nutrients, the thoughts, the emotions that they need in order to
continue to reproduce themselves in a healthy way.
The body replaces itself totally every seven years. It will replace
itself in a healthy way, depending upon what you’re feeding it on all
Mammography Can Turn Healthy Women into Cancer Patients
I’ve taken a strong, and in some cases controversial position on
mammography, and I’m particularly leery of the newer 3D Tomosynthesis
mammography, which is touted as being so much better but in reality may
simply compound the same problems associated with regular mammography, as it
increases the amount of harmful (and cancer-causing) ionizing radiation
you’re exposed to.
Dr. Northrup agrees, calling 3D tomosynthesis “a better mouse trap.”
“I keep going back to the work of Gilbert Welch from Dartmouth. I
believe it is the most important paper to come out about breast cancer almost
in my entire career,” she says. “Gil wrote a book called 'Should I Be Tested
for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here’s Why.' That was in 2004. Now he comes out
with a paper that has everyone riled up. It’s called 'The Effect of Three
Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast Cancer incidents'1 [published in
the prestigious medical journal New England Journal of Medicine]. He says:
'With the assumption of a constant underlying disease burden, only eight of
the 122 additional early-stage cancers diagnosed were expected to progress to
After excluding the transient excess incidence associated with
hormone-replacement therapy and adjusting for trends in the incidence of
breast cancer among women younger than 40, we estimated that breast cancer
was overdiagnosed (i.e., tumors were detected on screening that would never
have led to clinical symptoms) in 1.3 million U.S. women in the past 30
years. We estimated that in 2008, breast cancer was overdiagnosed in more
than 70,000 women; this accounted for 31 percent of all breast cancers
So in 30-year’s time, an estimated 1.3 million women were diagnosed with
what amounts to “ductal carcinoma in situ,” also known as stage zero cancer—
or cancer you may die with but not from. It’s essentially harmless...
“[Gilbert Welch] pointed to a study [from] way back, of women who
died in car accidents in their 40s. They sectioned their breast tissues and
found that 40 percent of them – this is normal healthy women dying in car
accidents – had evidence of ductal carcinoma in situ that was never going to
go anywhere. This is the big dilemma,” Dr. Northrup says.
Many Cancers Heal on Their Own...
Another important study was published in November 2008 in the Archives of
Internal Medicine.2 This study followed more than 200,000 Norwegian women
between the ages of 50 and 64 over two consecutive six-year periods. Half
received regular periodic breast exams or regular mammograms, while the
others had no regular breast cancer screenings. The study reported that those
women receiving regular screenings had 22 percent more incidence of breast
The researchers, as well as another team of doctors who did not take part
in the study but who analyzed the data, concluded that the women who didn’t
have regular breast cancer screenings probably had the same number of
occurrences of breast cancer, but that their bodies had somehow corrected the
abnormalities on their own.
“Of course, this makes complete sense, because your immune system is
set up to recognize and destroy cancers in the right environment,” Dr.
Northrup says. “The right environment, of course, is enough sleep, a low-
glycemic diet, enough vitamin D, and also regular handling of resentments,
anger, grief, and loss.
I think what I want women to know is that your breasts are not two
potentially pre-malignant lesions sitting on your chest. The problem with our
paradigm – whether it’s tomosynthesis or mammograms – is that it will find
things that were never going to go anywhere. And then you’re out there
wearing a pink ribbon and running for the cure, thinking that you were going
to die of breast cancer when you never will, and never would.”
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