Here’s an interesting nugget from the United States Preventive Services Task Force. This is the group that said women age 40-49 should NOT get mammograms and should NOT examine their breasts on a regular basis:
Over all, the report says, the modest benefit of mammograms — reducing the breast cancer death rate by 15 percent — must be weighed against the harms. And those harms loom larger for women in their 40s, who are 60 percent more likely to experience them than women 50 and older but are less likely to have breast cancer, skewing the risk-benefit equation. The task force concluded that one cancer death is prevented for every 1,904 women age 40 to 49 who are screened for 10 years, compared with one death for every 1,339 women age 50 to 74, and one death for every 377 women age 60 to 69.
Let’s do the math: There are between 22 and 23 million women in that age group. If there is one death prevented for every 1904 women screened, then when you stop screening, that one death per 1904 will NOT be prevented. Which means you’ll get an additional 1 death per 1904. So divide the population group by 1904 and you get somewhere around 11,500 to 12,000 additional breast cancer deaths.
Death Panel Indeed!
Believe me, it’s not the whole story. There is another side to this, specifically the number of deaths resulting from the side effects of unnecessary treatment. And I plan on writing more about this later today. But for now, that statistic stood out and warranted a quick comment.