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For many years, women with dense breast tissue have been told that they had a higher risk for breast cancer since studies had shown a link. Now a new study done by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) is reversing that line of thinking.
A woman's breasts are made up of milk glands, milk ducts, connective tissue, and fatty tissue, and women whose breasts have more glandular tissue than fatty tissue are said to have dense breasts. About 40 percent of women fall into that category.
On a mammogram, denser tissue shows up white, so it's harder for doctors to spot cancer cells. That, coupled with the higher risk factor, led medical experts to recommend these women get an MRI or ultrasound--which produce sharper images--to rule out any cancerous tumors.
This study examined data collected from nearly 53,000 mammograms done on women ages 50 to 69, and found no link.
"Our study suggests that breast density alone might not be a strong independent risk factor for breast cancer," said the study's author, Natasa Katavic, M.D., from the department of radiology at a health center in Croatia. "In risk assessment, all factors should be considered before deciding on additional examinations."
So if you've got dense breast tissue, you can breathe a little bit more easily now--and save money on the extra level of screening.