Uncertainty and Doctor Subjectivity underlie Women’s Health Issues

By Dr Pia Martin DC, CCN
I recently went for my annual Gynecological exam and this year there was definitately more discussion about the breast exam portion than there has ever been.
Since the new guidelines regarding breast cancer screening came out in late 2009 there has been controversy. The crossfire has left millions of women confused about how to handle their health care. Many women were outraged and angry that experts could not agree and give them a straight answer. The American Cancer Center is against the new Task Force guidelines which recommend mammograms beginning at age 50 and then every other year after that and The National Cancer Institute is re-looking at their recommendations and making changes. Some organizations are suggesting that the changes and findings recommended by the task force are politically motivated and the media is having a field day pitting one health care professional against another. Even our TV Doc (Dr OZ) “little chuckle” is sitting on the fence on this one. He thinks you fall into one of two camps… The Peace of Mind Group or The Power of Me Group
I personally decided that as I have some fibrous tissue in one breast I would have an ultrasound (a less invasive and more costly procedure). My Doctor was onboard with the decision however the technician at the imaging center was not and she berated me for not having a mammogram. Not just a small slap on the hand either but she lit into me loudly and aggressively. I was astonished as first, but that soon turned to anger!!! I can tell you as a physician myself it took me everything not to make a few angry remarks of my own. Most of us dread these tests and hope that we get the all clear. I’m no different in-fact I am worse because I know too much. So, I kept my composure and strongly re affirmed my decision. The last thing I needed was more stress. The technician did not leave it at that she still had to make sure she told me that I needed a mammogram next year! I am telling you this story because I know that even when you make a decision regarding your health that you feel is best for you, you will and can run into heavy objection and opinion.
I did a little research and here are a few of the main points from both camps and a few things to think about relative to these new breast health guidelines:
  • Your personal health history and that of the women in your family
  • The guidelines cut out 10 whole years… hard to swallow for many or two aggressive
    in the first place.
  • The Insurance Question. For now it seems that Mammograms are covered beginning age 40. Always, always, always, even if you have insurance, ask first; what is the cash price for a test or procedure. You will be surprised and often save money. Ask before you make the appointment.
  • Only in the USA are mammograms recommended before age 50.
  • Not all women go through menopause at 50, some sooner some later.
  • There are many stories from women who contracted breast cancer before age 50 and their lives have been saved by routine mammograms.
  • There are many women who have had false positives and invasive unnecessary surgeries.
  • Mammograms use radiation and it builds up in the body.
  • If you smoke stop!!!!!
  • Reduce your risks!!!! Exercise regularly, and eat a whole food diet, with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, while grain, seeds and nuts. Drink plenty of fresh water.
Do your research no matter what your views are on the subject and make sure you have a physician that is aligned with those views and values. More than ever You have to be an advocate for your own health care.
Listed below are some resources that will give the conventional and alternate points of view.