February 15, 2014

BREASTS ARE SPECIAL, HEARTS ARE A DIME A DOZEN:

Misfearing Breast Cancer : More evidence that routine mammograms make healthy people sick. (Christie Aschwanden, 2/14/14, Slate)

What's the No. 1 killer of women? It's a question that practitioners asked every new patient at a clinic where physician Lisa Rosenbaum once worked, and she hasn't forgotten the answer given to her by one middle-aged woman with high blood pressure and elevated blood lipids. "I know the right answer is heart disease," the patient told Rosenbaum, "But I'm still going to say 'breast cancer.' "

Rosenbaum recounts this experience in a perspective published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, which follows on the heels of a long-term study published online this week in BMJ that found no benefit from screening mammography. The two papers make fine companions.

The Rosenbaum commentary explores a phenomenon that Cass Sunstein dubbed "misfearing"--our human nature to fear instinctively, rather than factually. Rosenbaum's patient's first answer is correct--heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined, yet breast cancer seems to invoke far more fear among most women. "What is it about being at risk for heart disease that is emotionally dissonant for women?" Rosenbaum asks. "Might we view heart disease as the consequence of having done something bad, whereas to get breast cancer is to have something bad happen to you?"

If men had breasts no one would obsess over breast cancer either.
Posted by at February 15, 2014 10:41 AM
  
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