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Last December, I reached my half-century and within weeks was being “invited” to have my first mammogram. I knew well before the letter arrived that I would never put myself through one of these. Tales from my mother having had a painful and worrying experience had made me realise that squashing a boob between two plates in the name of health, was in fact traumatising local cells and very delicate tissue. I happen to believe that my cells like a little respect and bags of TLC so that’s what I intend giving them in bucketfuls!!

My game plan is to reduce my risk with a healthy diet and lifestyle AND IF the need arises to check out any untoward symptoms with a proven safe method of scanning – and yes there is one. See below.

I do NOT intend in participating in “just in case” invasive procedures. If I were to do that, I might as well also pop a daily statin just in case my cholesterol becomes too high (and the joke there is that cholesterol isn’t the problem it’s made out to be either!)

I was delighted to buy my first copy of “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” back in September as it featured a bumper article entitled “The Great Mammogram Con”. I don’t intend re-writing it here, but would urge EVERY woman (whatever age) to read it. Instead I’ll just include a few key points.

First of all, for every true case of breast cancer detected by a mammogram, it also sees 10 false positives!!! A false positive can lead to a full-blown scary rollercoaster of more tests and treatments including biopsies, lumpectomy (where the cancer is removed), full mastectomy, chemo and radiation. And this isn’t taking into account the months of worry and stress!! There are numerous stories in the papers / on the net telling of women who have unnecessarily had breasts removed.

Radiation and compression of the breast tissue carry dangers. It is argued that the X-ray radiation of one mammogram is negligible, but I would argue that any X-ray carries a risk. Also, at a screening, it is common for there to be 4 X-rays per breast so the cumulative effect is not as negligible as doctors would like you to believe (and ladies, if you consider our annual invite, the risk factor keeps building up). And just to add insult to injury, literally, as well as being ultra-uncomfortable and often painful, a mammogram can spread existing cancerous cells!!

Mammography is a limited technology as it only sees mass and structure, and not activity, so there is no way to know if a lump is cancerous or aggressive. About one third of all aggressive breast tumours are not detected and in dense breast tissue (fairly common in younger women), cancers can be missed.

You’ll be pleased to know that there is a safe alternative. This is thermography – digital infrared thermal imaging. Where a mammogram sees mass, thermography sees activity from the heat emitted by fast, cancerous growth. It can pick cancers up early, when it is easier to tackle. It is safer because there is no radiation and no breast compression either. Win-win.

The down side is the cost. Not yet available on the NHS, this procedure has to be done privately. A company called Medical Thermal Imaging Ltd runs mobile clinics throughout the UK (0333 800 3003). It is still worth asking your doctor about this because the bigger the noise we can make about this safe option, the more hope there is that someone may take note and introduce this instead of mammograms.

Whichever way you choose to check, the bottom line is not to buy into the fear. The problem is that the word “cancer” puts the heebie-jeebies into the most level-headed of us, and we can get drawn into having procedures which we may not need.

It pays to take a preventative approach and this starts with diet. If you eat junk, you are not giving your cells (breast and other) the TLC they deserve, toxins build up and then disease can manifest. If we stress our cells on a daily basis, they will spend all their time defending themselves rather than healing and cleansing.

Diet-wise

  • drink plenty of clean water
  • minimise/avoid caffeine
  • eat organic
  • eat a predominantly plant-based diet (and cut out dairy for sure)
  • eat lots of veg and fruit, particularly green veg
  • minimise/avoid sugar (cancer thrives on this)
  • eat wholefoods and avoid processed
  • minimise/avoid alcohol

Lifestyle-wise

  • don’t smoke
  • de-stress (do you REALLY HAVE to do this and that?); relax; stop to smell the roses
  • get plenty of sleep
  • get plenty of exercise. It’s non-optional if you want to stay healthy
  • get savvy about your toiletries, household cleaners etc. Ditch any chemical cocktails asap
  • go hippy-style and ditch your bra. In particular under-wired bras can put undue stress on breast tissue
  • re-think your deodorant. If it’s a bog-standard smelly stick, it’s likely to contain aluminium as well as other nasties. You are rolling this directly into the lymph glands under your arm, which sit next to your breasts. Not a good idea. My recommendation is to wash well and go au-naturel, but it that’s too scary, choose a more natural product

Here’s to good breast-health.

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