Raise your hand if you saw this one coming from a mile away — while for years women have been told and told and told by everything from pink NFL wristbands to Yoplait lids that the best way to fight breast cancer was to detect it via self-exams and mammograms, it turns out that the act of looking for breast cancer may, in fact, cause breast cancer. Boobs, I'm beginning to think you're more trouble than you're worth.
The research, released by a leading European cancer research organization, shows that some women who expose themselves to radiation from mammogram machines exhibit an increased risk of getting cancer later in life. This especially applies to young women who are already at an elevated risk of developing cancer due to genetic factors — if you're under 30 and you're getting mammograms, it might be a good idea to opt for a less risky, less titsquishy MRI rather than the much-touted mammogram. From HuffPo,
The researchers did not have a breakdown of how many women were exposed to chest radiation before age 30 but estimated that for every 100 women aged 30 with a gene mutation, nine will develop breast cancer by age 40. They projected the number of cases would increase by five if all of them had one mammogram before age 30.
The research's findings validate standard practices of doctors in several European countries, according to the Huffington Post In Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain, young women with genetic mutations that make them prone to cancer are generally directed away from mammograms.
This may bode especially poorly for breast cancer
sorority charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has already had a hell of a crappy 2012. Not only did its decision to politicize cancer by defunding Planned Parenthood lead to a huge immediate public backlash, its attempts to rehabilitate its public image have only been met with a resounding "meh" by the public. Donations to the charity are down significantly from coast to coast (here in NYC, this weekend's Race for the Cure registration is down 25% over last year's). Several prominent executives in the charity resigned, and founder and CEO Nancy Brinker even pretended to step down from the role of CEO in order to satisfy the public that a terribly out-of-touch rich lady with a clear political agenda wasn't driving the ship anymore. And to make matters worse, earlier this summer, the charity was formally reprimanded (or "spanked") for using deceptive advertising practices to "sell" mammograms to women who don't need them.
This sort of stuff — medical intervention designed to prevent cancer actually causing cancer — scares the shit out of me. I'm a woman who has cancer in her family. My grandpa has had four kinds of cancer, each of which failed to kill him (my grandpa was once ejected from a high school football game for punching the referee in the face, so I'm not too worried about anything taking him down for awhile). His wife, from whom I get my middle name, has had cancer twice. My mother was diagnosed with cancer last fall (and I hope she's not mad that I'm writing this — Hi mom!) and while she's now back to running half marathons, that's the second kind of cancer she's had. She's in hear early fifties. As I reach the end of my twenties, I'm trying to grapple with the notion that someday I'm doomed to turn into a giant human tumor, if I'm not on my way already. It's written in my genes. And there's nothing I can do about it. And western medicine has failed.
If this were a screenplay called something like Exit: Stage Four (or Race for the Kill), we'd be right about at the part where the main character (played by Ashley Judd as a resilient woman dying of breast cancer and running out of time in her search for answers) discovers that this whole thing is one big circle jerk conspiracy to pump money into the cancer industry. The charity's giving money to companies that do "research" but also happen to manufacture drugs that treat — and don't actually "cure" breast cancer. They're getting money from companies that manufacture medical supplies, corporations that manufacture products that contain carcinogens. They're ignoring scientific evidence about cancer prevention and instead focusing on expensive treatments and medical intervention that line the pockets of people who, in turn, profit from breast cancer and provide corporate sponsorship to more feel-good breast cancer events that funnel even more money into the cancer machine. IT IS A PROFIT-GENERATING CONSPIRACY THAT IS COSTING WOMEN THEIR LIVES! a dying Ashley Judd realizes as the music swells ominously. Also at this point in the film, the Nancy Brinker character would have a gun. A pink one.