Perhaps no aspect of breast cancer is more widely publicized than screening mammography. Ads on television, in magazines, and in the daily paper urge women to deal with fear about breast cancer by having a yearly mammogram. We’re even told that doing this is a way to “really care for yourself.”
But screening mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray and x-rays cause cancer. The ads promoting regular screening mammography are paid for by those who stand to profit from their widespread acceptance and use – the manufacturers of the equipment and x-ray film. Whose health does this technology really benefit? Women’s health? Or corporate health?
Should women have screening mammograms? At what age? How frequently? Science hasn’t agreed on answers to these questions. Susun Weed believes that her anti-cancer lifestyle (see page xv in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way) will decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer in a way that regular mammograms won’t.
She cares for her breasts with infused herbal oils, regular loving touch, organic foods, and healthy exercise – and forgoes regular screening mammograms. If you decide to have a mammogram, Weed offers advice on how to protect yourself and get the most out of it.
If You Decide to Have a Mammogram
- Get the best, even if it means a long journey.
- Go where they specialize, preferably where they do at least 20 mammograms a day.
- Be sure the facility is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
- Insist on personnel who specialize in mammograms. (Taking and reading mammograms are skills that require intensive training and a lot of practice.)
- Ask how old the equipment is. Newer equipment exposes the breasts to less radiation. A dedicated unit (one specifically for mammograms) is best.
- Ask how they ensure quality control. When was their unit calibrated?
- Load your blood with carotenes by eating a cup of cooked sweet potato, winter squash, or carrots every day for a week before the mammogram to prevent radiation damage to your DNA.
- Expect to be cold and uncomfortable during the mammogram, but do say something if you’re being hurt.
- The more compressed the breast tissue, the clearer the mammogram. (But pressure may spread cancer cells if they are present.)
- If your breasts are tender, reschedule. During your fertile years, schedule mammograms for 7–10 days after your menstrual flow begins.
- Don’t wear antiperspirant containing aluminum; it can interfere with the imaging process. (Those clear stones do contain aluminum, as do most commercial antiperspirants.)
- If you want another opinion, you’ll need the original mammographic films, not copies. (X?ray facilities only keep films for 7 years.)
- Get your doctor to agree, in writing, before the procedure, to give you a copy of your mammogram. The U.S. Public Health Service advises women to ask for written results from a mammogram.
- Given the high percentage of “false normal” mammograms, if you think you have cancer, trust your intuition.
- Remove radioactive isotopes from your body with burdock root, seaweed or miso.
Remember: Mammograms don’t promote breast health.
Breast self-massage, breast self-exam, and lifestyle changes do.
Sit comfortably in front of a large mirror in a warm, private space. Bare your breasts.
Look in the mirror. Tell your breasts something like: “I love you. You are just the way you are supposed to be. I see your perfection. I know your beauty. I honor your power.” Use your own words. Repeat as many times as you like.
When you are done, close your eyes. Slowly bring your hands up and cup them under your breasts. Say: “My breasts are healthy. My breasts are powerful.”
Open your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror, saying, “My breasts are my strength. My strength nourishes me and others.”
Close your eyes and let your hands return to your lap. Sit quietly and breathe as you visualize glowing pink clouds within your breasts spiraling in toward your nipples for a minute. Continuing to breathe; let this sparkling pink energy spiral out for a minute.
As you breathe, imagine the energy doing figure-eights from breast to breast for a minute. Finally, imagine that you are plunging your hands into vibrant pink energy. Feel it flowing up your arms, through your armpits and out of your nipples.
Open your eyes, smile at yourself in the mirror, and come out of the meditation.