Aug 22, 2012

Komen for the Cure Caught Lying About Benefits of Mammograms, says BMJ


The wild claims constantly being made by the breast cancer group Susan G. Komen for the Cure about the supposed benefits of mammogram screenings are patently deceptive and untrue. This is according to two distinguished professors who published a fascinating new review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that questions the legitimacy of breast cancer screenings in light of actual science.

A massive Komen advertising campaign that suggests mammograms help drastically save women’s lives has been of particular interest to Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz, co-authors of the study, both from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Komen claims that mammograms drastically decrease women’s risk of dying from breast cancer, and suggests that without mammograms, millions of women will die — but Woloshin and Schwartz say this is false advertising.

“The ad implies that mammograms have a huge effect, but the only evidence that they use (to back this) is the five-year survival rate for breast cancer when caught early, (which) is 98 percent, and when it’s not, 23 percent,” says Woloshin. “The problem is that in the context of screening survival, statistics are meaningless. To make an informed decision, you not only have to know the benefits, you have to know the harm. And the ad does not say anything about harm, it just gives you this exaggerated benefit statistic.”

You can view an image of the deceptive Komen ad, which was published by BMJ, here:

Mammograms help practically nobody, but injure many

When you really take an honest look at the data, it is clear that mammography is negligibly effective at reducing deaths from breast cancer, at best. The general, 10-year risk of a woman dying from breast cancer is about 0.53 percent, while the risk for a woman who gets mammograms is 0.46 percent. Mammograms, in other words, reduce this already low risk by a mere 0.07 percent, which could represent nothing more than a statistical margin of error.

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