Having practiced clinical nutrition and functional medicine for some time now, I have come across many different types of modalities and diagnostic tools. Some have impressed me more than others, but I always keep a completely open mind when considering any modality. An important thing that I’ve always considered however, is the benefits versus the risks.
Mammography In Question
Mammography has been questioned over the years as an effective and safe diagnostic tool, even by mainstream medical institutions. A recent review by the Swiss Medical Board revealed that mammograms unequivocally cause more harm than good. It stated that “for every breast-cancer death prevented in U.S. women over a 10-year course of annual screening beginning at 50 years of age, 490 to 670 women are likely to have a false positive mammogram with repeat examination; 70 to 100, an unnecessary biopsy; and 3 to 14, an over-diagnosed breast cancer that would never have become clinically apparent.” 1 As a result of this evidence (and much more), Switzerland is actually phasing out this procedure.
Mammography is the standard of care for “early detection” of breast cancer, but many women wonder what to do instead of mammography, or better yet as prevention before it’s even necessary.
There are many options for detecting and preventing breast pathologies. Here are a few that we regularly recommend in the clinic:
- Breast self-exam
- Dietary and lifestyle analysis
- Comprehensive hormone panel
- Estrogen metabolism assessments
However, one of the best ways for measuring the activity of the actual tissue is through a lesser-known tool called thermography.
What is Thermography?
First, what thermography is not:
- It does not diagnose breast cancer. It merely monitors overall breast health and responses to treatment.
- It does not replace mammography. There is a time and a place for mammography where the benefits outweigh the risks.
- It is not only for women (more on this below).
- It is not only for detecting breast cancer.
- It is not harmful as it doesn’t use radiation.
Here’s some information about thermography:
The flow of blood to the skin’s surface regulates body temperature. Each organ and gland in the body has blood and nerve supplies traveling to the skin’s surface. Organ disturbances impact the regulation of blood flow to the skin through the autonomic nervous system. By measuring precise skin temperatures on the body, following an overall change to room temperature, health care professionals can determine the health of the organ connected to that point on the skin. This powerful data provides a portal into understanding the body’s level of functioning.
Computer Regulation Thermography is an integrative approach to gathering information on an organ’s functioning in the context of the whole body. How well does the autonomic nervous system regulate the body’s temperature? How well do the individual organs perform in sending blood to the surface of the skin? Answers to these questions can form the basis of an early detection.”
Here are some of the results of more than a dozen studies on the benefits of thermography in breast cancer screening:
- Spitalier and associates screened 61,000 women using thermography over a ten-year period. 91% of nonpalable cancers were detected by thermography.
- Gros and associates followed 1,527 patients with initially healthy breasts and abnormal thermograms for 12 years. Of this group, 40% developed malignancies within 5 years.
- Nyirjesy and associates concluded in a worldwide retrospective study that thermograms were positive in a minimum of 71% to a maximum of 93% of patients with breast cancer.
Why I Went For Thermography
As mentioned above, thermography is not only for women. Men can benefit from it as well, to detect a body environment that might promote prostate (and even breast) pathologies, and for overall health.
Because it is measuring the temperature of the skin, thermography can detect tissue disturbances all over the body. In my case I was interested in it’s preventative utility. In other words, I wanted to see if there was anything I could detect, and consequently do, to prevent illness later on. Interestingly enough, a few things came up.
Firstly, an old injury in my elbow showed up. You can see on the picture my left elbow showing a yellow marking. This was probably due to scar tissue having been formed there altering the local metabolism. My elbow is fine now, but it was interesting to see.
Second, I discovered that I had some lymphatic imbalances, particularly in my neck region. This is a bit more useful for preventative purposes, as I can address that through lifestyle, such as skin brushing, exercise, rebounding, and massage, as well as through botanicals, like cleavers or other lymphatic drainage remedies.
These were only two of the many discoveries from this non-invasive informative test.
One of the key take-aways from all of this is that there are usually more options available to you than you think. Whenever a health care practitioner (allopathic or integrative) makes a recommendation, be sure to ask lots of questions. Find out if there are any risks associated with the recommendations, and if there are any safer alternatives. Finally, the most important thing is that you are 100% comfortable with the treatment plan. No matter what therapies are chosen, the mind can improve or destroy the effectiveness of the treatment.
- http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1401875 ↩