On instagram, I recently shared that I don’t get cancer screenings after examining the data and feeling confident in my ability to care for my health. Then, the fireworks erupted in the comment section… over 200 comments in one day.
The responses varied widely.
Some people said, “I have avoided screenings too, thank you for sharing this.”
A handful of nurses and doctors said “I agree, but if I voiced this my job would be at risk.” (Interestingly, the only “medical professionals” to comment on my post voiced agreement.)
But many other people violently disagreed, relying on emotional arguments, name calling, character attacks, shaming, and anecdotal stories to support their perspective — never scientific data. They said versions of, “You’re not a doctor! Shame on you for sharing dangerous information.”
Unfortunately, the violent personal attacks snowballed to the point where I closed the comments.
Why is this such a hot-button topic? Why are so many people unable to even hear a dissenting opinion without hurdling personal insults?
Many people are so emotionally-invested in their current beliefs around cancer screenings, they do not think critically or examine differing research on the topic.
But many people are willing to explore information that divulges from mainstream beliefs. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, I bet you’re one of those people!
Let’s dive into examining the efficacy of cancer screenings.
The Cochrane Review (once considered the premier unbiased source of medical evidence, and now compromised by pharmaceutical interests like other medical publications) says:
The studies which provided the most reliable information showed that [mammography] screening did not reduce breast cancer mortality. Studies that were potentially more biased (less carefully done) found that screening reduced breast cancer mortality. However, screening will result in some women getting a cancer diagnosis even though their cancer would not have led to death or sickness. (Source)
Dr. Iona Heath, the president of the Royal College of General Practitioners from 2009 to 2012, personally declines getting any mammograms because she is aware of the data. (Source)
But tell me again how I shouldn’t encourage people to question mammograms because I’m “not a doctor.” 😜
According to Dr. Mercola,
The Institute of Medicine is finally acknowledging the toxic effects of mammogram radiation as a significant factor in the development of breast cancer; just one mammogram can expose you to the radiation equivalent of 1,000 chest x-rays…
In September 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals, published the first study in years to examine the effectiveness of mammograms. Their findings are a far cry from what most public health officials would have you believe. The bottom line is that mammograms seem to have reduced cancer death rates by only 0.4 deaths per 1,000 women—an amount so small it might as well be zero. Put another way, 2,500 women would have to be screened over 10 years for a single breast cancer death to be avoided. (Source)
The radiation and lack of effectiveness is not the only problem with mammograms. Mammograms lead to staggering numbers of false positive diagnoses. One study looked at three decades of U.S. data and found that 1 million women may have been mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer due to mammogram screenings.
Additionally, there is concern among alternative medical practitioners and even some Western medicine doctors that the intense compression of breast tissue during mammograms may spread the growth of any cancerous cells.
Interestingly, the body has a strong defense system against breast tumors and the immune system allows 30% of breast tumors to go away on their own (source).
To support life-long breast health, check out the following resources:
The diagnosis for prostate cancer typically begins with a blood test to determine PSA levels. PSA is a protein secreted by the prostate and is not cancer-specific. It’s secreted by both healthy or cancerous prostates.
PSA levels are influenced by factors such as exercise, ejaculation, and stress. Yet if the doctor sees a high PSA level on the test, they refer the patient to get a biopsy.
“A man might have a PSA of 0.5 and have prostate cancer, yet another man whose number is an alarming 11 could be cancer free,” says Dr. Ablin, author of The Great Prostate Hoax.
PSA screening leads to biopsies, an invasive procedure used to extract tissue from the prostate. These biopsies promote cancer metastasis, and carry other risks like urinary problems and erectile dysfunction. (Source.)
Further, even when a biopsy shows carcinogenic growth in the prostate, it doesn’t even mean the cancer is a risk to the individual! It’s part of the body’s normal, natural process to develop cancerous cells — it doesn’t mean the cancer is going to cause illness or death.
Our efforts to find cancer early with screening tests has shown that what we pathologists call cancer encompasses a set of cellular abnormalities with very heterogeneous growth rates that vary from very fast to completely static.
That’s right, some cancers don’t progress at all. Some cancers will never make a difference to patients. The idea that some cancers don’t matter is a radical one for the medical field. – Dr. Welch, author of Overdiagnosed
One study examined the prostates of over 500 men who died in accidents. At the time of their death, they had no signs symptoms of cancer. The results revealed prostate cancer in 10% of men in their twenties. Over 75% of men in their seventies had cancerous growth in their prostate. Yet it didn’t create any health complications or symptoms for those men.
The US Preventative Task Force Recommendation made a statement based on analyzing available data, in 2018. The document summarizes:
“The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that the potential benefits of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer in men 70 years and older do not outweigh the expected harms.”
In other words:
“We’re really not sure that getting a screening if you’re oder than 70 is will help more than it hurts you.”
As for men under 70, there is no data showing that prostate screening it will reduce overall mortality, or outweigh the significant risks of over-diagnosis and invasive treatment.
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch analyzed the 3.7 million men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US between 1986 and 2005. His study was published in 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He reported, “our paper estimates about 1.3 million are attributable solely to the test… and would not have occurred without it.”
No data shows that colonoscopies reduce mortality from colon cancer. The following is summarized from the compilation of data on GutSense.org:
- The American Cancer Society has stated that “there are no prospective randomized controlled trials of screening colonoscopy for the reduction in incidence or mortality of colorectal cancer.”
- The National Cancer Institute has said, “…it is not yet known for certain whether colonoscopy can help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.”
- A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “the patients in all the studies had at least one adenoma detected on colonoscopy but did not have cancer. They developed cancer in the next few years, however, at the same rate as would be expected in the general population without screening.”
The risks of colonoscopies include:
Immune system dysfunction
80% of our immune system is in our gut flora — the 4 – 6 pounds of protective bacteria that line our digestive system.
These 500 species of bacteria, often referred to as gut flora, play specific roles in homeostasis and growth, including nutrient absorption, mucosal barrier function, support of gut lymphoid tissue, and immune function (read more here.)
The “bowel preparation” procedure before a colonoscopy entails consuming substances that completely flush out the colon, leaving it squeaky clean for camera access. This “cleaning” process strips the protective bacteria and leaves the colon wide open for infection from yeasts, pathogenic bacteria, and even an infection from the scope itself.
Risk of infection
The Mayo Clinic once sent out letters to patients of colonoscopies warning them that they could have been exposed to Hepatitis and Aids due to the procedure! Shockingly, it is extremely difficult (and some say impossible) to clean the endoscopes thoroughly enough to prevent infection and transmission of disease.
One 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times reported on the dangers of unsatisfactorily cleaned endoscopes:
“The nation’s leading manufacturer of endoscopes has known for a decade that some scopes contain cavities inaccessible to cleaning by hand but has failed to fix the oversight, said David Lewis, a University of Georgia research microbiologist who has conducted research for the federal Environmental Protection Agency on the issue of dirty endoscopes.”
Causing or exacerbating Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
Gluteraldehyde, a common sterilant for endoscopes, can cause colitis. Residual amounts of this toxic substance on the endoscope may irritate the colon and lead to colitis.
Additionally, this sterilant is not effective in eliminating mycobacterium, the microorganism that has been identified in 90% of Crohn’s disease patients. Contamination of endoscopes with this microorganism may actually cause Crohn’s disease.
If you have decided to get a colonoscopy even with this information, here are 5 health-protective steps to take.
Biopsy rate for melanoma has increased 2.5-fold between 1986 and 2001. In that same period of time, the incidence of melanoma diagnosis (not melanoma deaths, but diagnosis) has increased almost the same amount: 2.4-fold (Source: Overdiagnosed).
Dr. H Welch writes, “As we’ve looked harder for melanoma, we have found more. […] There is less an epidemic of melanoma than an epidemic of diagnosis.”
Further, sun exposure is actually correlated to less all-cause mortality. Mainstream medical myths have scared us away from sunlight, yet it may be one of the most critical non-food sources of nutrients required for health.
Pap smears were introduced in the 1940’s as a screening for cervical cancer, which — even if diagnosed — carries a very low death risk of 0.2%. Point two percent! Yet even as screenings have increased, cervical cancer rates have decreased since the 1950’s.
Screenings have increased the over-diagnosis of precancerous labels, including dysplasia and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. While these precancerous labels create a lot of distress and fear for the patient, it doesn’t mean they are even at an increased risk for developing cervical cancer. (Source: Overdiagnosed)
“This is dangerous information!”
When I shared my personal choice to avoid cancer screenings on instagram, one most common criticisms was “This is dangerous information!”
But is information ever dangerous? Or, is it dangerous to avoid exploring different perspectives and leave our beliefs unquestioned?
People who believe in the concept of “dangerous information” are the ones with the least trust in their own critical thinking and intuitive discernment. By exposing ourselves to various viewpoints and paradigms, we develop discernment.
“You’re radical and extreme!”
Many people get cancer screenings because they think, “Better safe than sorry.” Some people believe my choice to avoid screenings is “radical and extreme.”
But what if it’s safer to educate yourself on why these interventions don’t reduce cancer mortality, and to empower your health through other avenues?
What if the “radical and extreme” approach is trusting your health to doctors whose entire education is based on a pharmaceutical-profit model, rather than up-to-date data and patient wellbeing?
KNOWLEDGE REDUCES FEAR
I focus on building my physical/emotional/spiritual health and resilience through the following approaches:
- Avoiding carcinogenic exposure (EMFs, processed foods, carcinogens in personal care products, lack of nature, etc.)
- Eating an unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet
- Enjoying time in nature and in the sunlight
- Activating my stem cells naturally
- Addressing underlying trauma and emotional triggers
- Deepening my spiritual development and life purpose
- Honoring my intuition
- Educating myself on holistic health resources + protocols
Many people comply with recommended cancer screenings because they lack knowledge, and therefore fear cancer. I exist in a paradigm where I have no fear around cancer. I know how to support my health, and I also know holistic, effective protocols people have used to successfully reverse cancer. Perhaps most importantly, I know that some things are beyond my control, and I accept that. This is such a freeing perspective that many people can’t comprehend it.
Many people think fear is a form wisdom… and I disagree. This is such a deep topic I’ll have to do another post (or a whole book!) on the topic.
I share this information and my personal choices around screening with the hope that it equips you with more knowledge, and less fear.