Medical Infrared Thermography Shows True Colors of HealthJul 31, 2013 03:51PM ● By Kenneth Hoffman, L.Ac.
New medical practices and technologies often have the ability to save lives, but when first discovered, they historically have been met with derision and widely ignored. For example, almost 150 years ago, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell’s clinic—the New York Infirmary for Women and Children—had a significantly lower birth mortality rate compared with other hospitals. She credited the practice of mandatory hand washing by healthcare workers between patients for this result, yet this practice was seen as “crazy” by her male colleagues, and she was labeled a medical heretic.
Many believe medical infrared thermography (MIT) is a technology being largely ignored by conventional medicine, even though extensive science supports that using it could help with early detection of breast cancer risk, potentially saving many lives.
Statistics show that breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the U.S., will affect one out of eight women. Yet leading authorities, including Dr. Devra Lee Davis, a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University, an advisor to the United Nations and World Bank and former presidential appointee, agree that “most cancer is made, not born.” The sobering fact is the majority of cancer research money—about 99 percent—goes to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, while less than 1 percent goes to prevention. Most breast cancers are found after six to eight years of growth, but the predominant screening tool is the mammogram, which many physicians and researchers are unconvinced is a successful detector of breast cancer. In fact, researchers on mammogram radiation are calling for reevaluation of its risks. In one study published in Radiation Research, they found that increased risks for cancer for mammography are 2.7 to 5.3 times higher than previously assumed; the original risk was a cumulative 1 percent per screening.
The good news is that thermography, which has been available for more than 20 years, has no side effects and the proven ability to detect early risk factors for breast cancer. It is well known that a large percentage of breast cancers take eight to 10 years of growth before detection by conventional devices or in most cases, by self-examination. However, if we could detect subtle changes occurring in year two or three, we could use less invasive interventions such as dietary, hormone and lifestyle changes, as well as a variety of natural medicines. MIT detects changes when an individual still has power over his or her health. At Sophia Natural Health Center, in Brookfield, Connecticut, many cases of early detection of suspicious breast patterns have been observed using MIT. Women are empowered to reverse these early risks using Chinese medicine and safe supplementation protocols. In some cases, scheduled biopsies were later cancelled because there was nothing to biopsy. The key was early detection, prevention and constant monitoring.
These experiences are not isolated cases of positive detection using MIT. The foundational study, which looked at 58,000 women screened with MIT breast images, tracked 1,527 patients with initially healthy breasts (negative mammogram and physical exam) and abnormal thermograms for 12 years. Of this group, 40 percent developed malignancies within five years. The study concluded that, “An abnormal thermogram is the single most important marker of high risk for the future development of breast cancer.”
What makes MIT unique is the way in which disease is detected through infrared technology. MIT picks up minute infrared changes that occur when its heat-sensitive lens “senses” increased patterns from developing blood vessels that feed a tumor. It doesn’t actually detect a tumor so much as it finds possible tumor activity. This is not like a mammogram, which can only detect a structure in the breast tissue, regardless of whether it is active or not. In fact, mammograms have a significantly high false positive rate, leading to unnecessary procedures. In a review by the Cochrane Library, a well-respected medical journal, for every 2,000 women subjected to mammogram screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged. In addition, 10 healthy women that would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening will be diagnosed as breast cancer patients and treated unnecessarily. It is thus not clear whether mammogram screening does more good than harm. Studies of MIT have been much more positive, with research showing a 97 percent predictive value.
MIT is extremely safe, although there are many questions regarding the safety of mammograms. Although no one is denying the mammogram’s value for diagnostic evaluation, its value is not as clear for routine health screening. Many questions are being raised concerning cumulative exposure to low dose radiation. A large meta-analysis published in The Lancet showed no reduction in breast cancer deaths with annual mammogram screening. Multiple sources have challenged the safety of mammography screening. One such study was performed on human tissue exposed to low-dose radiation. The clear results were that the specific radiation used for mammogram increased cancer risk up to 500 percent higher than previously suspected. MIT is totally safe; there are no emissions or chance of injury due to compression, and multiple screenings can be safely performed at any age without risk of radiation damage.
With a database of more than 300,000 women screened with thermography, 800 peer-reviewed studies, large study sizes and positive outcomes from early thermal screenings, the only question any woman should be asking is, “Where can I get this done?” While thermography is not a replacement for mammography, the goal is to evaluate for potential risks and then reduce them—not to detect cancer. Right now, it is unlikely to find MIT in a hospital or conventional medical office, because it is not covered by most insurance policies. However, complementary medical practitioners are the pioneers of our time and they will lead us to MIT—a tool that can literally save a life.
Kenneth Hoffman, LAc, CCH, is a founding board member of the Institute for the Advancement of Clinical Thermography. His natural medicine practice, SOPHIA Natural Health Center, is located in Brookfield, CT. He can be reached for consultation at 203-740-9300 or SophiaNaturalHealth.com.