The Truth Behind Mammography Myths



( — Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. Because not all lumps necessarily mean cancer, and not all cancers can be detected by touch/physical examination, until it becomes large enough, a mammogram is the best way to detect cancer early.

Although it is not 100% accurate, the mammogram can:

• Detect lesions in their very early stage
• Detect lesions that are not palpable
• Detect lesions before they are palpable
• Give important information about the “lump” or change you or your doctor feels

Regular mammograms may therefore give you a better chance of picking up early breast cancer than the occasional mammogram.

So what myths/questions are stopping you from making your appointment?

It’s Too Painful

You will feel some pressure as the mammogram is performed, but any discomfort will only last a few seconds. Because breasts are more sensitive just before your menstrual period, you should try to schedule your mammogram seven to 10 days after the start of your period.

I Can’t Afford It

Routine mammograms in women over age 40 are considered preventive care and are covered by most insurance companies. If you have Medicare, Medicare will help pay for a mammogram once a year. There are also state and federal programs to help women pay for a mammogram every year. You can call the American Cancer Society toll-free, 800-227-2345, for more information.

I’m Not At Risk For Breast Cancer

“If you’re a woman, you’re at risk for breast cancer,” says Dr. Gregory. “Almost 70 percent of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors.”

I Don’t Feel A Lump Or Have Any Symptoms

The reality is, screening mammograms are for women with NO lumps or other symptoms. The best time to find cancer is before you can feel it.

A mammogram can detect cancer as much as a year or two before you or your physician could feel it. Breast cancer found in its earliest stages offers the greatest chance of remission and survival.

I Don’t Know Where To Go

By doing a little research and asking the right questions, you can ensure you’re receiving a high-quality mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that you:

• Ask to see the FDA certificate that is issued at the center. The FDA requires that all facilities meet high professional standards of safety and quality.
• Use a facility that specializes in mammograms and does many mammograms a day.
• If you are satisfied with the quality, go to the same facility on a regular basis so your mammograms can be compared from year to year.

Isn’t The Radiation Dangerous?

With modern mammography machines, the high-quality images produce a low amount of radiation. “Strict guidelines are in place to ensure that the equipment uses the lowest dose of radiation possible,” says Dr. Gregory. “The doses are very small and tightly regulated by the FDA.”

My Self-Exams and Annual Checkups Are Enough For Me

Mammography can typically spot lesions one-fifth the size of those that can be felt by hand during self-examination or clinical breast examination by a healthcare professional. For example, an experienced examiner can feel a lump the size of a small pea. Mammography can find a lump the size of a grain of rice. Overall, mammography can pick up about 40% of cancers that are too small to detect by touch on clinical examination.

My Doctor Did Not Recommend a Mammogram

In most studies, they have found that the reason women most frequently give for not having a mammogram would be whether their primary health care doctor suggested it. If your doctor does not suggest mammography and you are in the correct age group and if you have some risk factors, it will be up to you to raise the issue.

I Am Too Young For a Mammogram

Although in screening programmes, the age of 40 or 50 is always mentioned, any person who has signs or symptoms suggestive of breast cancer needs appropriate evaluation, regardless of age. Even males with suspected breast cancer undergo mammograms. In addition, if breast cancer runs in your family and tends to occur early, you may need a different recommendation for mammography. Always consult your doctor or a radiologist.

Why Have a Mammogram When It Is Not 100% Accurate?

No test in medicine is 100% accurate. However, all results are interpreted with their limitations and limits of accuracy in mind. For example, the ECG (electrocardiogram) done for a patient with chest pain may be normal (rarely so) even if the patient is suffering from a heart attack. An exercise stress test for the heart may only pick up about 70% of those with narrowing (stenosis) of the heart blood vessels of more than half its diameter.

Remember that most African American women should have their first baseline mammogram at age 35. Talk to your doctor to get the help and information that you need that’s right for you.

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7 Things You're Doing To Cause A Stroke



( — Stroke is the number three killer in the United States, affecting almost 800,000 people each year, according to the National Stroke Association. These “brain attacks” occur in two ways, either when blood flow to the brain is interrupted (an ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke). For 144,000 people each year, the result is death. Hundreds of thousands of others are left with long-term disabilities.

Both uncontrollable and controllable risk factors play important roles in deciding who get strokes and who does not, such as genetics, age and race – for example, the prevalence of stroke in blacks is about twice that of whites. Also, stroke prevalence is more than twice as high in individuals with fewer than 12 years of education, compared to college graduates. In addition, stroke risk in people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is double that of the general population, according to various studies.

Out of all the various stroke risk factors, scientists have found that the below seven are at the very top:

7. Eating A High-Fat Diet

The same foods associated with heart attacks, including red meat and anything fried, can also raise your risk of a brain attack. At the recent American Stroke Association’s (ASA) International Stroke Conference, researchers from the University of North Carolina presented findings that post-menopausal women who consumed high-fat diets had 40 percent more incidences of ischemic stroke than low-fat eaters. Trans fats, found in processed foods like pastries and crackers, seem particularly nasty: The group of women who consumed seven grams of trans fat each day had 30 percent more stroke incidents than those who ate one gram.

So what to eat instead? Multiple studies suggest that a Mediterranean-inspired diet can lower stroke risk. That means lots of vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and very little red meat and sweets.

6. Being Single

If you’re a man who’d like to cut his chances of a fatal stroke, get hitched. A Tel Aviv University study of more than 10,000 Israeli men found that those who were married at midlife were 64 percent less likely to die of a stroke during the next 34 years than single men. The data was adjusted for other stroke risk factors like socioeconomic status, blood pressure and smoking.

But there’s a catch: The marriage has to be a happy one. Men who reported dissatisfying marriages were just as likely as single men to die of a stroke, the researchers reported at the ASA’s International Stroke Conference.

5. Being Unhappy

Happiness is music to your cardiovascular system. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston reported in 2001 that among older individuals, positive moods and attitudes protected against strokes. Even incremental increases in happiness helped: For every step up on the researchers’ happiness scale, male participants’ stroke risk dropped 41 percent. Women’s risk dropped 18 percent per happiness unit.

Even if you’re not happy, it might pay to act like you are. The researchers speculate that happy people are more likely to get medical care, exercise and stay healthy, all protective factors against stroke.

4. Being Obese

More weight means a higher risk of stroke, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota. In a study presented at the International Stroke Conference last month, researchers followed more than 13,000 Americans for 19 years and found that the risk of stroke in people with the highest body mass index (BMI) was 1.43 to 2.12 times higher than in those with the lowest body mass index. (BMI is calculated with a person’s height and weight and is considered an indicator of body fatness.)

The reason for the correlation is that some stroke risk factors are worsened by obesity, study co-author Hiroshi Yatsuya said in a statement. The biggest culprits, according to the data are high blood pressure and diabetes.

3. Smoking

Lighting up nearly doubles your risk of stroke, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Fortunately, quitting can drop that risk back down, even for heavy smokers. One 1988 study found that former smokers had the same rate of stroke as nonsmokers five years after snuffing their last cigarette.

2. Being Born In The Wrong Demographic (for a stroke)

Not every risk factor is under your control. Black Americans and females are at a disadvantage when it comes to stroke. Researchers report that Blacks are twice as likely as whites to have a stroke, and women aged 35 to 64 are almost three times as likely to have a stroke as men of the same age. Reasons may be that Blacks have higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, and women in midlife carry more abdominal fat than men, all risk factors for stroke.

1. Being A Born-and-Bred Southerner

The swath of stroke-prone states across the Southeastern United States – generally including North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama – have long been known as the “Stroke Belt.” But recent research suggests that just being born and spending your childhood in one of these states raises your risk for stroke, even if you move away later.

In a study published in the journal Neurology in 2009, Harvard public health professor Maria Glymour and her colleagues reported that among blacks, being born in the Stroke Belt increased the risk of stroke by 22 percent. For whites, the number was 30 percent. Part of the reason may be due to risk factors like poor diet, smoking and obesity, which may start earlier in southern states, Glymour told LiveScience.

“By the time that they’re middle-aged and we’re enrolling them in our studies, it looks like lots of people have those risk factors,” she said. “But maybe people in the South have been carrying them for longer.”