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The Mammogram Controversy

So Much for Evidence-Based Medicine

John B. McKinlay

“No good deed goes unpunished” is a dictum that applies to the ongoing controversy surrounding recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent group of 16 private sector clinicians and scientists appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which rigorously assesses ever changing evidence on medical care, and makes recommendations based on explicit criteria. Their recommendations, which do not apply to a small group at high risk for breast cancer, now suggest women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual ammograms, that women aged 50-74 should have them less frequently (every two years rather than every year) and that breast self-examinations produce no significant medical benefit. Just 7 years earlier (2002) the same group, but with different members looking at earlier evidence, recommended annual mammograms for women starting at age 40. The task force also reversed its previous guidance that encouraged doctors to teach women how to do breast self-exams.

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Heretic's Corner
10/4/2011 - Posted by NERI Upstream
For example, how useful is it to encourage households in poverty (experiencing food insecurity) to consume more costly “healthful” diets (lean meats, whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruit). The examples are endless............