Mammograms, Diet & Exercise Will Not End the Epidemic

Karuna Jaggar

Executive Director Karuna Jaggar

By Karuna Jaggar, BCAction Executive Director

In anticipation of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s CEO Nancy Brinker is calling for “less talk, more action” on breast cancer. I am struck by how similar the urged “action” looks to what the organization has been advocating for years. Komen’s “take action” emphasis continues to be on individual women getting annual mammograms.

At Breast Cancer Action, we bring a markedly different understanding of what action we all need to take—for ourselves, each other, our mothers, daughters, and granddaughters—to truly end the breast cancer epidemic. Komen’s faith in mammograms to bring the “end to breast cancer” is misplaced.

  • Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer; they detect breast cancers that have already developed.
  • Mammograms don’t detect all breast cancers: according to the National Cancer Institute, “mammograms miss up to 20 percent of breast cancers that are present at the time of screening.”
  • And unfortunately, there are plenty of women diagnosed, by mammography, with early stage breast cancer who end up dying of breast cancer.

More women getting more mammograms is not going to end the breast cancer epidemic. Neither, of course, are healthy diets and good exercise regimes.

One of the ugly truths of breast cancer is that more than half of all breast cancers have no known cause and scientific evidence suggests that many cases are linked to exposure to environmental toxins. This means that, even if a woman follows Ms. Brinker’s call to exercise, never smoke, reduce alcohol consumption, and control her weight, she may still get breast cancer. Today the greatest risk for breast cancer is being a woman. In fact, a woman today has a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer, up from 1 in 20 in the 1960s and 1 in 14 in the 1980s.

We need actions that benefit the health of all women, not just ourselves.

  • Action that does not assume synthetic chemicals are innocent until proven guilty.
  • Action that begins with corporations and extends to our state and federal regulatory systems.
  • Action that addresses the fact that too many women lack the health insurance of Ms. Brinker’s audience.
  • Action that turns the tide on the inequities that mean African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than their white counterparts.
  • Action that produces more effective, less toxic treatments, including for metastatic disease.

We need meaningful action to turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic so fewer women are diagnosed with the disease and fewer women die from breast cancer. We will continue to take action to bring the systemic changes that will end the epidemic.

This entry was posted in Articles, BCA News.

4 Responses to Mammograms, Diet & Exercise Will Not End the Epidemic

  • I so agree with you. It is so frustrating to not have more movement in the regulation of toxic chemicals in the environment. I mean, just do a little research and you get it. Toxic chemicals are creating disease, including breast cancer. Endocrine disruptors are estrogen mimics. Right here on Cape Cod, we are trying to stop NStar, the local utility, from spraying four herbicides under the power lines. We have sandy soil and a sole source aquifer. These chemicals will go right into our water. Those who defend the use of herbicides are following 30-year old science, that was probably financed by the chemical industry. We need to wake up. Every woman who has had breast cancer, or who has a friend or family member with the disease, should rise up and demand toxic chemical regulation from our legislators. There are two bills in Congress right now, but the media acts as if they do not exist. Enough, already!

  • yvonne g says:

    I read that BRAS are the culprit. Not only is restricting the blood flow for 15+ years, now they are finding toxic chemicals within our fabric, causing health defects.

    I believe the bra industry and the medical industry are behind the suppression of information. Centuries ago corsets were proven to be deadly, bras work similarly…

  • Luis Mendoza says:

    We strongly feel the same way which is why we started the Keep A Breast Non Toxic Revolution campaign! Thought you might be interested in see what it’s all about. We want to get young people to be their own activists and take the nasty toxins and chemicals out of their daily life that would ultimately lead to cancer and other diseases. Great article btw!

  • Rachel H says:

    Iodine is often the answer – detox some of the nasty chemical exposure, rebuild the thyroid.

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