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Risks and benefits to our health are dangerously exaggerated

By Nigel Hawkes   January 2010

Body scans can reveal a lot about our health, but they can also be misleading

Here’s a little test. Breast cancer screening reduces deaths by 25 per cent. If we assume that 1,000 women dutifully turn up to all their screening appointments, how many lives will be saved? The answer, remarkably, is one. Not 25, or 100, or even 250, the figures picked by a substantial proportion of gynaecologists who were asked this.

As a recent study showed, if 1,000 women started getting screened at the age of 50, and had a mammogram every year, only one would have her…

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