Dangers of high-tech mammograms

Let's get this out there right off the bat: Mammograms have always been about making money, not saving lives.

Doubt me at your own risk on this one, ladies, but the numbers speak for themselves. And the newest numbers scream "SCAM" as loud as they can.

In this case, "SCAM" is pronounced "CAD" as in "computer-aided detection," a program used in three quarters of all mammograms that supposedly helps radiologists to read the images better.

That's what it's SUPPOSED to do. In reality, it's about as helpful as a kick in the teeth. According to a new study on more than 1.6 million mammograms given between 1998 and 2006, CAD doesn't detect more cancers OR save more lives.

Even worse, it causes the number of panic-inducing false positives to shoot right up.

It's easy to forget when you're a radiologist who stares at pictures of boobs all day, but a false positive isn't just a woman who doesn't have cancer. It's a woman who is absolutely convinced she has cancer until she gets a second test that proves otherwise.

And when the second test comes back negative for cancer, she's not angry over bad technology. She's thrilled. Heck, it's the happiest day of her life since her wedding (maybe happier, depending on how those nuptials worked out).

She might even send that radiologist a thank-you card -- and then tell all her friends about the "close call" she had and urge them to get screened too.

But the radiologist who gets that thank-you card knows the real score. It's right there on his balance sheet: He gets an extra $12 each time he uses CAD -- not to mention the fees from the second visit needed to clear up the false positive.

Believe me, he's keeping track of all that -- and probably throwing away the thank-you cards.

On the other hand, the CAD scam is small potatoes compared to the mammogram itself. As far as cancer screenings go, it's worse than useless.

It's radioactive enough to actually cause the disease, especially if you're gullible enough to get one every year. And if you already have a harmless tumor, this boob-squishing machine can pop it open and turn it into a cold-blooded killer.

So CAD or no CAD, skip the mammogram -- and don't let yourself get scammed.

Gents, you're up next. Keep reading for the latest horrific prostate side effect.