The Corner

Science Wins! Or Does It?

Six months ago, the DHHS felt that mammograms for women in their 40s were very important. Today, not so much . . . Captain Ed has the story over at Hot Air.  Now as it happens, I regard the change in policy something to be pleased about. From all the evidence I’ve seen, the number of women that get breast cancer without also having other risk factors is extremely small, meaning that in all probability the number of women who get benefits from the (painful) screening alone is outweighed by those who undergo potentially very harmful but unnecessary surgery.

So it is possible that this decision is actually a victory for science over the precautionary principle, with a decision having been based on a proper consideration of the risk trade-offs involved. Even if cost was involved in the decision, as Captain Ed suggests, it’s still the right decision.

What’s going to be interesting is the reaction from the baptist and bootlegger alliance of feminists and providers of screening services. Last time this was discussed in the early 90s, that alliance forced the Clinton administration to cave and recommend annual mammograms. The administration’s reaction to that likely backlash will tell us much about the value the president really places on science.