Why many American women are resolutely rejecting the new mammogram recommendations, despite mixed reaction in the medical community.
Most adult women know a woman in her 40s who was diagnosed with breast cancer and died. So the news this week that mammograms and self–breast exams do little to protect women under 50 against breast cancer—and that doctors have nothing new to offer in their stead—felt like a real slap to women who have been diligently doing everything they were told to do to protect themselves. So perhaps that’s why, despite the fact that an expert panel insists that its recommendations are designed to reduce young women’s exposure to radiation and unnecessary biopsies, and despite strong evidence supporting new guidelines, many women across the country have been rallying against the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, demanding that access to mammograms for women under 50 continue.
In many respects, the sense of betrayal rivals the news back in 2002 that hormone therapy—long pushed by doctors as a way for women to keep their aging hearts strong, despite a lack of strong evidence—turned out to increase the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots. When conventional wisdom about sensitive health issues is turned on its head seemingly overnight, is there any surprise that women are upset and angry?