WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The former head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health says American women should ignore the mammogram recommendations of a government breast cancer panel.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," former NIH chief Dr. Bernadine Healy, now health editor for the magazine U.S. News & World Report, said she disagreed with the assessment of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a 16-member panel assembled by Department of Health and Human Services. The group this month recommended women under 50 forgo routine breast cancer tests and instead get mammograms individually in consultation with their doctors.
Asked if women should ignore the panel, Healy said, "Oh, I'm saying very powerfully ignore them, because unequivocally -- and they agreed with this -- this will increase the number of women dying of breast cancer."
Healy told Fox that women in their 40s "have a very aggressive kind of breast cancer. They tend to progress fast. And to not screen women in that age group is astounding to me, and it goes against the bulk of individuals who are actually caring for patients."
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius distanced the administration from the report last week, saying the federal government had not changed its breast cancer policies.