Noteworthy new medical research

Two health-related articles caught my attention this weekend. The first is on a subject I’ve been loosely following for a while: the mammogram.

To mammogram or not to mammogram… I’ve long questioned the benefit of this test for women over 38, and have had doctors stare me down on this one. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a mammogram. Just don’t tell me that they’re the be-all-end-all test for women and that you’re going to send the mammogram police to arrest me if I refuse one.

I’m finally beginning to feel some vindication, however. Over the past year, I’ve noticed several new studies showing that mammograms are not all they’re claimed to be. The latest research out of Harvard and just published in the New England Journal of Medicine says they make only a “modest impact” on reducing death rates from breast cancer:

“By highlighting that the mortality benefit is modest, Kalager et al. help confirm that the decision about whether to undergo screening mammography is, in fact, a close call,” he writes…

Again, not to say mammograms don’t save lives. But maybe doctors will get around to reading this research and stop looking at me like I’ve got three heads when I question their one-size fits all protocol.

The second article is also out of Harvard — Harvard Magazine— by Jonathan Shaw.  “Good Cells Gone Bad” is a short piece about how changes in our environment can actually cause disease. Good cells can turn “bad” and bad ones can possibly stop their badness if there’s a “good” environment. (I’m well-versed in the scientific terminology, as you can tell.)

This research certainly has ramifications for the future of cancer treatment and prevention. And yes, hopefully the stem cells they’re using in these experiments are not embryonic.

Zoe Romanowsky

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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