LONDON (AP) - A new study suggests mammograms might actually raise the chance of breast cancer in young women whose genes put them at higher risk for the disease.
The study, by European cancer agencies, finds the added radiation from mammograms and other tests using chest radiation might be especially harmful to women with BRCA gene mutations. The authors conclude that MRI's are probably a safer screening method from women under 30 who are at high risk because of the mutations.
While the study doesn't prove a link between the radiation and breast cancer, the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society says it raises "caution flags" about how doctors treat women with gene mutations.
About one in 400 women has the gene abnormalities, which are more common in Eastern European Jewish populations. The mutation increases the risk of developing cancer five-fold.
Mammograms have proven to save lives, and experts say they are clearly beneficial for women age 50 and older who have an average risk of breast cancer. But experts are divided about their value in women younger than 50.