PHOENIX -- A controversial new study says that mammogram screenings used for detecting breast cancer are not as beneficial as some people believed.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School released a study Tuesday indicating the procedure detects too many cancers that would not cause any life-threatening issues if left alone. A mammogram cannot differ between aggressive cancers and harmless cancers, according to researchers, and women experience unnecessary stress or treatments when a non-fatal cancer is found.
Researchers who compiled the study, which collected data from as far back as the 1960s, recommended that women without a history of breast cancer receive a mammogram every other year and that doctors use high-tech tests for detecting cancers.
This study is the latest of many to indicate that mammograms are overused. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendations for screenings in 2009, saying women should have checkups every other year starting at age 50, rather than age 40.
The American Cancer Society estimates an annual rate of 225,000 cases of breast cancer, with 40,000 people dying from it each year.