In November 2003, the American Cancer Society stated that breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 44. In the United States, there are approximately 200,000 new cases of breast cancer and more than 40,000 deaths; making the U.S. one of the countries with the highest death rate due to breast cancer. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is 1: 8 women will eventually develop breast cancer over their lifetime.
One of the most powerful steps a woman can take to reduce her risk for developing breast cancer is to educate herself about the petrochemicals, or xenoestrogens that are in her environment and work to eliminate or reduce them. Petrochemicals are "hormone disruptors" and it is through the unbalancing of your hormone system that can lead to problems. These xenoestrogens are found in cosmetics, lotions and fingernail polish and polish remover. They are obviously found in pesticides and insecticides. What you may not be aware of is that petrochemicals are found in plastics. If food is placed in a plastic container and reheated in the microwave, the plastic melts into your food and you ingest it. The harder the plastic, the more resistant it is to this process but the potential for accidental xenoestrogen ingestion is still present. Simply put, do not reheat food in plastic containers in the microwave.
Conventional screening methods all examine structure. For example, mammography uses X-ray to examine breast tissue. Any structure that has grown large enough to be seen by X-ray could be detected by mammography. However, mammography can have a high false positive rate. In fact, only 1 in 6 biopsies are found to be positive for cancer when found by mammography or clinical breast exam. This leads to increased psychological stress, physical trauma and financial concerns.
Other risks of mammography include the radiation exposure, although this has been debated by doctors for many years. Recently published in Radiation Research, 2004 the author suggests that the risks associated with mammography screening may be FIVE times higher than previously assumed and the risk-benefit relationship of mammography needs to be re-examined.
There exists a technology that can detect a breast issue YEARS before a tumor can be seen on X-ray or palpated during an exam. This technology has been approved by the FDA as an adjunctive screening tool since 1982 and offers NO RADIATION, NO COMPRESSION AND NO PAIN. For women who are refusing to have a mammogram or those who want clinical correlation for an existing problem, digital infrared thermal imaging may be of interest.
Thermal cameras detect heat emitted from the body and display it as a picture on a computer monitor. These images are unique to the person and remain stable over time. It is because of these characteristics that thermal imaging is a valuable and effective screening tool.
Breast thermography has undergone extensive research since the 1950s. There are over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography with more than 300,000 women included in large clinical trials. An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than a first order family history of the disease. A persistently abnormal thermogram carries a 22-fold higher risk of future breast cancer.
Medical doctors who interpret the breast scans are board certified and endure an additional two years of training to qualify as a thermologist. Thermography is not limited by breast density and is ideal for women who have had cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. It is recommended that since cancer typically has a 15 year life span from onset to death, that women begin thermographic screenings at age 25.
Thermographic screening is not covered by most insurance companies but is surprisingly affordable for most people. For more information or to find a certified clinic in your area, go to www.proactivehealthonline.com.
Brenda Witt is co-owner of Proactive Health Solutions in Southern California. She is an American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT) certified thermographer in the Orange County area.