The Leading Cause of Breast Cancer?


Profiteers in the medical CT scan business took a big hit last week from a major new government report on the causes of breast cancer.

Published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the exhaustive analysis found that medical radiation, particularly the large radiation dose delivered by CT scans, is the foremost identifiable cause of breast cancer.[1]

Almost 230,480 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year in the United States, and about 40,000 women will die of the disease, roughly one out of every 3,875 women.

The new Institute of Medicine report probably doesn’t sit well with the industry, hospitals and clinics that make so many millions of dollars selling and over-using CT machines. The authors suggest that women avoid “unnecessary” or “inappropriate” medical radiation, a thinly veiled criticism of the industry that will give you a CT scan for a tooth ache if you don’t object to it.

In 1980, there were 3 million CT scans performed in this country. The number rose to 62 million in 2006,[2] to about 70 million by 2007,[3] and, according to NBC, to 72 million this year.[4] It’s a growth industry that doesn’t care if it promotes tumor growth.

The IOM committee made several suggestions for preventive actions that women can take, and the very first one is to “avoid inappropriate medical radiation exposure.” In the “Question & Answer” section of the IOM analysis online, the authors recommend “Avoiding medical radiation and hormone therapy, unless they are medically necessary, is a good idea.”

This suggestion has a vexing corollary since so-called mammography is just a lower dose of X-radiation given directly to breast tissue. Yet the new IOM study’s authors say in a footnote, “While recognizing the risks of ionizing radiation exposure, particularly for certain higher-dose methods (such as CT scans), it is not the committee’s intent to dissuade women from routine mammography screening.” Yet the advisability of mammography has been under attack ever since the British medical journal The Lancet in Oct. 2006 reported on a study by Dr. Peter Gotzsche that found the produced no health benefits. The late Dr. John Gofman argued for his entire career that X-rays caused more breast cancer then they detect, a position defended at length by Dr. Samuel Epstein in his book “The Politics of Cancer.”

CT Scans may cause 29,000 cancers and 15,000 cancer deaths every year

NBC News said in 2009 that each whole-body CT scan can deliver as much radiation in 10 minutes as 440 chest X-rays.[5]

The IOM’s authoritative warning against CT scans has to be considered in view of a 2009 study led by the National Cancer Institute which showed that CT scans administered in the year 2007 alone may have contributed to 29,000 new cancer cases and nearly 15,000 cancer deaths in the United States. NBC News noted the report in its Dec. 14, 2009 broadcast under the headline, “15,000 will die from CT scans done in 1 year.”[6]

Dr. Rita Redberg, U. of Calif. San Francisco, told NBC, “We’re getting a lot of radiation from CT scans, there’s a lot of variability in the radiation that we’re getting from different types of CT scans, and there are a lot of excess cancers.”[7]

In view of the license to kill that CT scanners seem to have been given, patients considering medical radiation have to ask themselves Dirty Harry’s famous question, “Do I feel lucky?”

John LaForge works on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly newsletter.




[1] The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2011, p. A3

[4] NBC News, “15,000 will die from CT scans done in 1 year,” Dec. 14, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34420356/ns/health-cancer/#.Tufgm7KmTBE

[5] Ibid

[6] Archives of Internal Medicine, “Projected cancer risks from computed tomographic scans performed in the United States in 2007,” Dec. 14, 2009

[7] NBC News, “15,000 will die from CT scans done in 1 year,” Dec. 14, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34420356/ns/health-cancer/#.Tufgm7KmTBE

November 25, 2015
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold