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Mammograms - Who Needs Them?

by Susun Weed

Perhaps no aspect of breast cancer is more widely publicized than screening mammography. Ads on television, in magazines, and in the daily paper urge women to deal with fear about breast cancer by having a yearly mammogram. We're even told that doing this is a way to "really care for yourself."

But screening mammograms don't prevent breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray and x-rays cause cancer. The ads promoting regular screening mammography are paid for by those who stand to profit from their widespread acceptance and use - the manufacturers of the equipment and x-ray film. Whose health does this technology really benefit? Women's health? Or corporate health?

Should women have screening mammograms? At what age? How frequently? Science hasn't agreed on answers to these questions. Susun Weed believes that her anti-cancer lifestyle (see page xv in Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way) will decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer in a way that regular mammograms won't. She cares for her breasts with infused herbal oils, regular loving touch, organic foods, and healthy exercise - and forgoes regular screening mammograms. If you decide to have a mammogram, Weed offers advice on how to protect yourself and get the most out of it.

If You Decide to Have a Mammogram

  • Get the best, even if it means a long journey.
  • Go where they specialize, preferably where they do at least 20 mammograms a day.
  • Be sure the facility is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
  • Insist on personnel who specialize in mammograms. (Taking and reading mammograms are skills that require intensive training and a lot of practice.)
  • Ask how old the equipment is. Newer equipment exposes the breasts to less radiation. A dedicated unit (one specifically for mammograms) is best.
  • Ask how they ensure quality control. When was their unit calibrated?
  • Load your blood with carotenes by eating a cup of cooked sweet potato, winter squash, or carrots every day for a week before the mammogram to prevent radiation damage to your DNA.
  • Expect to be cold and uncomfortable during the mammogram, but do say something if you're being hurt.
  • The more compressed the breast tissue, the clearer the mammogram. (But pressure may spread cancer cells if they are present.)
  • If your breasts are tender, reschedule. During your fertile years, schedule mammograms for 710 days after your menstrual flow begins.
  • Don't wear antiperspirant containing aluminum; it can interfere with the imaging process. (Those clear stones do contain aluminum, as do most commercial antiperspirants.)
  • If you want another opinion, you'll need the original mammographic films, not copies. (X ray facilities only keep films for 7 years.)
  • Get your doctor to agree, in writing, before the procedure, to give you a copy of your mammogram. The U.S. Public Health Service advises women to ask for written results from a mammogram.
  • Given the high percentage of "false normal" mammograms, if you think you have cancer, trust your intuition.
  • Remove radioactive isotopes from your body with burdock root, seaweed or miso.

Remember: Mammograms don't promote breast health.

Breast self-massage, breast self-exam, and lifestyle changes do.

Breast Meditation

Sit comfortably in front of a large mirror in a warm, private space. Bare your breasts. Look in the mirror. Tell your breasts something like: "I love you. You are just the way you are supposed to be. I see your perfection. I know your beauty. I honor your power." Use your own words. Repeat as many times as you like. When you are done, close your eyes. Slowly bring your hands up and cup them under your breasts. Say: "My breasts are healthy. My breasts are powerful." Open your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror, saying, "My breasts are my strength. My strength nourishes me and others." Close your eyes and let your hands return to your lap. Sit quietly and breathe as you visualize glowing pink clouds within your breasts spiraling in toward your nipples for a minute. Continuing to breathe; let this sparkling pink energy spiral out for a minute. As you breathe, imagine the energy doing figure eights from breast to breast for a minute. Finally, imagine that you are plunging your hands into vibrant pink energy. Feel it flowing up your arms, through your armpits and out of your nipples. Open your eyes, smile at yourself in the mirror, and come out of the meditation.

About Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way

Finally, a non-threatening book about breast cancer!

Can women do more than submit to a yearly examination to insure the health of their breasts? According to Susun Weed, the highly-regarded author of Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way, there are many simple ways for women to increase the health of their breasts. Unlike most other books on the subject of breast health and breast cancer, which are clinical and frightening, Weed speaks from a place of warmth, sensitivity and compassion, giving comfort, reassurance and extremely practical advice. She gives the positive message that every cell of a woman's breasts can be nurtured, rejuvenated and healed by the energies of touch, pleasure, love, whole food, and green, healing plants.

Ms. Weed suggests a two-fold approach to breast health: increase the foods and lifestyle choices that are known to prevent cancer, and decrease or eliminate those things that are known to increase cancer risk. Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way explains all the risk factors for breast cancer, from excess hormones (especially estrogen) to tobacco smoke, radiation to poor diet. She sets out simple, pleasant, affordable ways to create your own anti-cancer lifestyle, including the best foods and herbs to add to your diet.

But what if a lump is found or, worse yet, if the diagnosis is cancer? Ms. Weed's book gives thorough information that helps women move through the tangle of possible options. She offers advice that deals not only with the physical aspects of treating lumps and cancer, but also the emotional, relational, and spiritual factors involved. Weed argues against taking action immediately, offering strong support for her opinion that women must give themselves time to make wise decisions that are not based on fear.

After a woman has chosen her treatment options, Susun continues to offer her support through the use of complementary medicines - herbal and home remedies that are proven to moderate the side effects of surgery, radiation, tamoxifen, and chemotherapy, without interfering with their effectiveness. For instance, she cites statistics showing that women who attend regular support groups double their survival time after diagnosis, that women who exercise regularly similarly increase their longevity, and that standard Heroic cures, including fasting, enemas, and high-dose supplements, actually increase morbidity and should be avoided.

Ms. Weed does not avoid the difficult questions surrounding breast cancer, but discusses them without engendering fear and guilt. She writes, "So many of our modern healers, alternative and orthodox alike, fear death. When a diagnosis of cancer is made, death becomes the enemy. Fear of death - rather than love of life - then becomes the basis from which treatments are chosen." Ultimately, Susun urges women to find ways to love their life without clinging, and to learn to honor their death. Doing so can open many doors, including those to a longer and richer life. Metastic breast cancer, she acknowledges, is curable only by "miracles"... which definitely do happen!

Christiane Northrup, author of the best selling Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, writes in the introduction that she learned the importance of breast health fourteen years ago when she developed a large breast abscess while nursing her first child. Due to her demanding schedule of work and devotion to the healing of others, she neglected her own self-care, resulting in the complete destruction of the structure of her breast duct. From that experience she became aware that we cannot nurture others fully or well unless we also nurture ourselves. "Our breasts know this. And they will not be silenced in their attempts to bring this to our attention," she states.

Susun agrees. She writes that women have a wise healer within that has been silenced, ignored, and ridiculed for the last several millennia. Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way gives explicit instructions for reconnecting with this inner wisdom, as well as detailed information about the herbal remedies mentioned in the book. An Herbal Pharmacy section contains instructions on making specific preparations (such as infusions, tinctures, oils, and vinegars) for those who want to do it themselves. All of Weed's recipes and suggestions are extremely easy to find, buy, make, or do, and do not require the fanatical extremes that are often recommended in other cancer treatment books. Her advice and wisdom can easily fit into the life of every woman who is concerned about good health.

Supporting women and their body wisdom unconditionally, Weed makes the process of maintaining or regaining breast health into a magical journey of transformation and offers women the opportunity to become healthy/whole/holy. Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way guides the reader through her fear, to a place of action where she can honor her own integrity, and choose the best course for her life. Learn more at:


Susun Weed
PO Box 64
Woodstock, NY 12498
Fax: 1-845-246-8081

Vibrant, passionate, and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings, and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges conventional medical approaches with humor, insight, and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine. Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.

Susun is one of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women's health. Her four best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists and well-known physicians and are used and cherished by millions of women around the world. Learn more at

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