Mammography, Vaccines Still Raise Questions In Consumers’ Minds
NPR reports on two preventive measures that, despite years of research, still have consumers wondering what to do.
Mammography: "When a federally funded task force announced last November that mammograms should be optional for women under 50, the reaction was explosive. ... Recent studies have kept the debate going."
"One from Norway found a much smaller effect of mammography than earlier studies, even among older women who usually benefit more. Authors say mammography may reduce the breast cancer death rate by only 2 percent. Another study from Denmark found mammography screening had no effect in reducing breast cancer deaths. A third study out of Sweden is the most relevant to the U.S. debate over mammography for women under 50. It concludes that regular screening reduces breast cancer deaths by as much as 29 percent - nearly twice as much as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force calculates. So mammography studies are still all over the place" (Knox, 10/11).
Vaccines: Mothers, even those who are keeping their babies on the recommended schedules, "worry about the number of vaccines that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for children: more than 20 by age 2, including the new recommendation for seasonal flu shots for all children 6 months and older. Vaccines have tamed killers like smallpox, polio and measles; they may well be medicine's greatest triumph. But newer vaccines, like the ones for whooping cough and chicken pox, don't always give such great protection."
"It turns out that there are no simple answers to the question of whether natural immunity caused by exposure to a germ is better than the industrial version. 'It varies from vaccine to vaccine,' says Samuel Katz, an inventor of the measles vaccine and a chairman emeritus of pediatrics at Duke Medical School. But he still doesn't know why some vaccines work well - and some, not so much" (Shute, 10/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.