Since this is an astrology blog I feel I have to make a connection here so I’ll file this under “where reality meets our illusions: the Saturn/Neptune opposition.” Recent news reports cite a dropping breast cancer rate, and while these statistics were first linked to the sudden drop in the number of women taking hormone replacement thereapy, news reports now link the drop in breast cancer incidence to a corresponding drop in mammography rates.

The news articles suggest that the drop in breast cancer incidences must mean that there are simply fewer breast cancers found because fewer women are going for their annual mammograms. But what if there’s a more insidious connection? What if, as I have always suspected, an annual dose of radiation is more likely to cause cancer than to cure it?

I am not a lone nut in thinking this. This well-sourced article points out:

Screening mammograms pose significant and cumulative risks of radiation-induced breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. The routine practice of taking 4 films of each breast each year results in approximately 1 rad (radiation absorbed dose) exposure, approximately 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray.

The pre-menopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, with each 1 rad exposure increasing breast cancer risk by about 1%, which results in a cumulative 10% increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening. Furthermore, radiation risks are 4 times higher for the 1 to 2% of women who are silent carriers of the A-T (“ataxia-telangiectasia”) gene.

A few years ago I was unable to find a doctor who support my desire to avoid so-called “hormone therapy,” but a few years later my fears of hormones were justified. I have had two mammograms in 15 years and have refused to have more, and perhaps that fear will be justified as well. Every woman has to make their own decision where this is concerned, but let’s watch the data carefully as the breast cancer rates continue to drop.

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