A new government task force has released new guidelines for mammograms, claiming that most women should start getting the test every two years starting at age 50 – instead of the previously recommended age of 40.
And while breast cancer survivors in Hollywood are being very vocal on the topic, so is Sarah Palin, who spoke with Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday, where Palin was promoting her book “Going Rogue.”
“I think that’s a dangerous recommendation,” Palin told Maria. “You can talk to any cancer survivor who was diagnosed early thanks to an early mammogram and I would think that they would tell you much differently than what you’re hearing today that they shouldn’t receive [the tests until age 50].”
It’s a sentiment echoed by celebrities who have fought and survived the disease, as well.
“I’m shocked that they want to abandon proven therapies based on cost analysis. This is wrong,” Jaclyn Smith told Access Hollywood.
Jaclyn, the former “Charlie’s Angels” star, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 56.
“We’re going to be put back in the dark ages again. Women are just starting to not be afraid to self-examine and have regular check ups and now they’re saying to push it another 10 years,” she continued.
In addition to her concern over pushing back the recommended age to begin testing, Jaclyn also took exception to the government no longer suggesting annual check ups.
“The year before I was diagnosed, my mammogram was fine,” she revealed. “If I hadn’t done that next year’s mammogram, I would’ve had a different outcome.”
Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed younger than Jaclyn. Her cancer was discovered 17 years ago at the age of 43 – seven years younger than the age now being recommended for mammograms.
“We are not data, we are human beings,” Olivia told Access. “You can’t judge it by data. I was in that 40 – 50 range.”
Since her diagnosis in 1992, Olivia has become a vocal advocate for breast cancer research and other health issues. The star, who will be performing on FOX’s TV skating and musical special “Kaleidoscope” on November 26 to raise awareness for women’s cancer, also believes strongly in self exams, which the new guidelines say are of no value.
“At least for me, breast self-examination is the key,” she said. “That’s how I found my lump and then I went to the doctor and he sent me for my mammogram.”
Like Jaclyn and Olivia, other Hollywood stars have also battled breast cancer – Cynthia Nixon, Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge were just a few of the celebrities who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in their early 40s.
There’s also Christina Applegate, who was 36.
“I think that most women in America think that because we always hear from doctors, that you don’t have to get a mammogram until you’re 40, but is that sill correct?” Christina told AccessHollywood.com’s Laura Saltman during an interview in September. “That’s a misconception.”
Because she had a strong family history of the disease – her mother is a survivor of breast and ovarian cancer – Christina began getting mammograms at 30. At 36, her doctor recommended she take her testing a step further.
“They were finding that the MRIs were really great for discovering it at an early stage, so I had my first MRI and they found cancer,” she revealed. “For me personally, it saved my life.”