Study questions mammogram safety

December 1, 2009 Dutch researchers pooled data from six other studies involving women with genetic mutations or a family history. They found that those who had mammograms or chest x-rays were more likely to have breast cancer.

Also, the high-risk women exposed to radiation before age 20 or who had at least five x-rays were 2 1/2 times more likely to develop breast cancer. They say high-risk women under the age of 30 may want to consider switching to an alternative screening method.

"High-risk women should weigh benefits and risks together with their doctors and come together to get a good screening strategy, and keeping in mind that there is possibility of using alternative techniques at younger ages like MRI," said Marijke Jansen-van der Weide, PhD, Univ. Medical Ctr. Groningen.

This study was presented in Chicago at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Again, the finding only applies to high-risk women and not those of average risk for breast cancer. But this study could add fuel to the debate about the value of yearly mammograms.

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