Just when I thought we were getting somewhere with cancer screenings, yet another organization has cooked up its own set of guidelines.
And it's a huge step backwards.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is protesting recent moves toward fewer and less frequent mammograms by urging women to get one every single year, starting at age 40, no matter what.
It's a direct -- if late -- response to the guidelines issued in 2009 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which pushed back the starting age to 50 for most women and only recommended screenings every other year.
Still too many screenings and far too often -- but as a step away from the yearly mammogram madness, it was a welcome move that would have at least put us on the right course.
But after years of being told they need mammograms early and often, women weren't quite ready for that message. Many continued to get them, and other groups have been coming out with their own guidelines for more frequent screenings.
ACOG must've felt the pressure to keep up: Until now, the group recommended mammograms every other year from the age of 40, and every year after 50.
Personally, I think you have to take every recommendation like this with a huge grain of salt anyway. I mean, this is the flagship organization of obstetricians and gynecologists -- allowing them to tell you when to get a mammogram is like letting an organization that represents car dealers tell you when to buy a new car.
Here's the reality of the situation -- the one message that's still not cutting through the noise: Despite what you've heard, mammograms are inaccurate and dangerous.
They lead to false positives and false negatives... they're radioactive, and can actually cause the very cancers they're supposed to detect... and they're responsible for the mass overtreatment of breast cancer in the United States, with millions of women undergoing radical surgery to remove tumors that never would have hurt them.
Younger patients face even higher risks -- especially if they're getting that extra dose of mammogram radiation every year thanks to new screening guidelines.
Even ACOG admits that 1,900 women between the ages of 39 and 49 would need to be screened -- and exposed to all those risks -- to save a single life.
If you're concerned about breast cancer, don't be so quick to hop aboard the mammogram bandwagon. Thermography is quickly and quietly becoming the go-to option for women who want a safer and more accurate form of cancer detection.
Learn more about thermography -- and why some people are working overtime to make sure you never hear a peep about it -- right here.