Health — April 15, 2010
Karin Grumstrup: Thermography in a world of radiation
Today, I have a very special guest, a friend of mine, who is both a registered nurse (RN) and a nurse practitioner (NP). And she is particularly interested in women’s health and women’s breast health. So, I want to introduce everyone at the café to Karin Grumstrup. Karin has, actually, has a funny name, and sometimes I have a hard time saying it. You are from the Netherlands, right?
Karin Grumstrup (KG): Well, my parents and grandparents are from Denmark.
Scott Morrow (SM): Denmark. Okay. Well, Karin thanks for being in the café today. As people can see we have a particular device, which is your camera. Because you serve women’s health, that’s very important to me and certainly my mother and my sister. We have all those relations, so I want you tell everyone in the café about thermography. Because as I am beginning to understand mammograms and mammography, there’s a new science, there’s something that we now know more about that can help women keep healthy. So, Karin, welcome to the café. Tell us about your work as a nurse and thermography, particularly this camera.
KG: Thanks, guys. It’s really good to be here. Just to let everyone know here, I was actually inspired to come here and talk with Scott because a couple of weeks ago, maybe even a couple of months ago, we were just casually talking about women’s health and you didn’t even really know what I was doing. And I just started talking about thermography that I just recently – in the last year and a half – which I just got into and I am very passionate and excited about. And so thank you.
SM: And I was concerned because my sweetheart recently had to have a mammogram. She didn’t just have one. She had like three in a course of a week. You and I already talked about that. I don’t want to jump the gun but we are here to talk about mammograms and thermograms and new technology and alternative ways to take care of women’s health.
KG: Definitely, Scott.
SM: So, Karin, just tell us what you know.
KG: Okay. I have been a women’s nurse health practitioner for 20 years. I have seen a lot of things come and go. Things that we believe were just standard, safe medical practices. When I say we, I mean the general medical community. And I’ve always been rather surprised at some of these changes, and it’s happened again in the women’s health, in the career that I do, in the practice that I do. On November 16th , an independent US preventative task force made a formal statement, primarily to the public and to the medical community, that their rigorous research showed that mammograms under the age of 50 should not be routinely done every year. That’s pretty much the standard of care.
Now when I heard that statement come out, I started to ask, “That’s very interesting. What did they find in this rigorous research?” What they actually found was, and this hasn’t really come out I don’t think in the media, that the amount of radiation women receive in just a routine standard mammogram for a woman under the age of 50 whose breast tissue is much more vulnerable to the radiation, much more dense so it’s more difficult for mammogram to actually find what they are looking for and I’ll explain that in just a little bit. That radiation that women are receiving is actually increasing their risk for breast cancer. So let me just stop for a moment and let me explain to people the difference between a mammogram and a thermogram. And this is a very important thing to talk about, Scott, because there is a lot of misinformation about the two.
The very first research studies that were done in the early 70s did not use a very sophisticated camera like this. And they compared it to a mammogram. Let me just say that’s like comparing apples to oranges. This camera does something very different from a mammogram. First of all, mammograms use radiation, they use compression, and they are trying to detect structure. So mammograms are trying to detect structure that’s already there, tumors that are already in your breast tissue.
This camera is trying to detect physiological changes that are occurring long before – 8 to 10, 12 years before – it actually turns to cancer. We can detect blood vessel changes that are feeding an area that could perhaps, we don’t know how quick, perhaps could lead to breast cancer. So what this camera does, it detects infrared heat, it detects the normal heat that is coming off your body but we want to know if there’s too much heat coming of a certain area of your body – called Angeogenesis, which is a very important piece of why this tool is just so beneficial and important in preventing cancer.
SM: So women can have a thermogram below the age of 50?
SM: And really get some insight into “Is their breast healthy?” And the amount of heat that is indicated in the thermogram will tell which one is a little bit unhealthy or maybe it is a lot unhealthy. I mean, how does it work? Is there a scale?
KG: There is a scale of 1 to 5. So 0 to 1, probably 0 – 5 is the best way to explain it, that would just a moderate amount of heat. Normal amount of heat coming out of your breast tissue is anywhere from 0 and even up to 2. If we start seeing a thermal scale of 3, we know we have a moderate amount of heat coming out of the women’s breast tissue. And it’s actually a period of time when we could do something about it. You know, we work with the diet or we work with supplements and we actually reduce this amount of heat, which is just a moderate amount for infrared heat coming out of a breast tissue, we see that drop down to 0 or 1.
Now, what would be very interesting as we start doing more and more research studies where we can look at what would benefit the woman most with the amount of heat that is coming out of their breast and the changes that occur… what we can do with those women to get it down to normal. We are starting to see that the things we do today are really making a difference.
Now the women that come out with a scale with a thermo reading of 3 to 5 up more of 4 and 5, those are the women that we are going to refer for a mammogram. And why is that? That’s because mammograms detects structure and we want to know is that high heat that we’re reading on this camera is due to a tumor. Is that due to breast cancer? A mammogram will detect structure and it is a very important key for a woman to understand. It is detecting cancer; it’s not preventing breast cancer. Mammograms detect structures. A thermogram on the other hand can detect something long before it’s cancerous.
SM: It can detect early changes in the woman’s breast.
SM: And you’re saying that if those changes are not in extreme on your scale, that there’s not a need for a mammogram because smaller indications of heat could be what… like a calcium… extra calcium in a woman’s breast, something like that?
KG: Exactly. Calcium deposits… just heat coming from too much caffeine in your diet, you know?
SM: That could happen as well.
KG: Sometimes if we just change simple things like caffeine – that causes inflammation, swelling of the breast tissue. We have women come in after drinking caffeine, and their thermogram comes up with negative.
SM: You take the photos yourself as a nurse. Now, do you read the thermogram and tell the patient? How does that work?
KG: Good question and I am going to expand on it. The first studies that were done that many doctors will ask you about or relate to when they are talking to you about … when you are bringing, say for example, when you are bringing in your thermography results to your doctor. They might say, “Well, thermography doesn’t tell us enough. It’s not… you know, I don’t really trust it.”
A lot of those doctors are looking at studies that were done in the early 70s without protocols, without the state of the art digital cameras that we now use. And those protocols had people taken the pictures that had no training. What I am leading up to is that those protocols are very, very important that we use protocols that will affect the accuracy of the pictures we are taking. So for example a woman has to sit in a room, a cool room of 68 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. We do that so she acclimates to that temperature. So that there’s no external heat affecting the pictures we are taking. Okay?
So that’s one main protocol. Just for an example, a couple more that we need you to follow when you come in for your thermography screening are: no caffeine in the last 24 hours, no breast massage, no hot showers… nothing that would raise the temperature of the breast and therefore affect the amount of heat that we will detect coming out of the breast tissue.
SM: So the photograph is very important and once a woman has her breast photographed, there are professionals like yourself or doctors who study the photograph and decide, “Uh-oh! We might need to get a mammogram…” or “There’s some heat showing up here, we should talk about diet, health, health practices…” what the woman was doing because you can correct it.
KG: Exactly. So the people who are taking the thermography photograph scans need to be certified, and you should always check that. And then the reading of the scan is done by a doctor or chiropractor or M.D. who is certified in reading thermography. So it’s very important that you check that out. All the clinics that I know that are doing thermography scans in the state of California, where I live, are all certified.
SM: Okay, now. A bit of the question that I have which is thermography is not readily available or is it? I know that when my sweetheart was getting a mammogram, she didn’t even mention to me the possibility of the thermogram. All women have access to someone with the camera at this time?
KG: I would say right now, I am just taking a guess, maybe around 20 states have thermography centers.
SM: Not that very many.
KG: Not that many. You know there might be more than that but California has many… I know Colorado, mid West, out East. We’re seeing more and more of them as people get certified.
SM: But it is cutting-edge science, and doctors and health practitioners for women are just now incorporating this kind of equipment and knowledge from this study into their practice, right?
KG: One of my passions is educating women more about breast health and tools such as thermography. It is a well-researched tool that is highly accurate. It truly makes a difference in a woman’s breast health. And I am just passionate about getting this tool out there for more and more women. I am also passionate about really encouraging women to study these tools including mammography, ultrasound, MRI, thermography, self breast exam. Just know all those tools that you can use to prevent breast cancer and know which ones are safe.
SM: People should educate themselves, specifically women, with this whole matter of breast cancer. I certainly want my sweetheart to educate herself and learn more, now you and I have talked. We’ve got online and I want to get everyone in the café to go to your website: http://www.yourbreasthealth.com and you’ve got a lot of resources on your website for the people to get this information?
KG: Exactly, Scott. Other websites to go to research studies that I’ve done on thermography. I think I have around 800 resources of what has been done on thermography. The other thing that I just want to mention is if you are at your doctor’s office and they asked to have a mammogram, which is you know pretty standard care, of course, but have asked you to repeat it, or if you have any question about that, please question it and even ask for a second opinion. Just always be very well-versed and educated in the type of health care you are receiving.
SM: I think that is smart advice, specifically. I don’t want you to be put on the spot but I want to remind people that these studies have shown that mammograms, X-ray, specifically x-rays do cause cancer. So what you concern about it is women are being advised to get an x-ray and perhaps the person who is advising, is he/she up-to-date on the knowledge and tools that are available as to alternatives for preventing breast cancer and even saying if you have it. So this is really valuable advice and I want to say I again, go to Karin’s website: http://www.yourbreasthealth.com and look into all the resource materials there and really look into it, so people don’t needlessly do procedures that possibly could be harmful.
KG: Great. And decide for yourself after really looking at the all options you have and women definitely have extraordinary decisions to make around breast health and cancer. We have the tendency in this country, where medical or allopathic medicine is highly sophisticated, we have the tendency, to take a woman for example, and try to get her the best medical care but often times are over-diagnosed and over-treated.
SM: I think that might have happened to my intimate, she perhaps was over-treated with the multiple mammograms. Now I am kinda wishing that we had gotten together sooner and we were able to use your camera.
KG: Right. And they were trying to provide the best service they could but now we are taking another look at it, well, does the benefit of that… of three mammograms… is that more beneficial than the risk of the radiation?
SM: I should tell them in the café that as it turned out she did not have breast cancer, but three mammograms later, she did not have breast cancer and I think that it might have been a little too much. Next time we’re going to ask a lot more questions and do a lot more research before we do what we thought was a common procedure. There’s just new evidence, new procedures and everyone should make themselves aware of it.
KG: Exactly, Scott.
SM: Okay, great. Karin, thanks for being in the café today. I hope everyone will visit your website: http://www.yourbreasthealth.com and maybe we will have you come back in the café again and talk even more.
I want to invite readers – if you enjoyed this conversation, meeting Karin here. Please leave your comments here on our website. Or send us an email – to email@example.com Let me know what you thought about what Karin had to say and maybe we will meet Karin here at the café again.
This book discusses the rapid evolution of technical advances in infrared sensor technology, image processing, “smart” algorithms, databases, and system integration that is paving the way for new methods of use in medical infrared imaging. These breakthroughs permit easy-to-use, high-sensitivity imaging that can address key issues of diagnostic specificity and engender a new level of diagnostic standardization, thus enabling the even wider use of infrared imaging as a viable, non-invasive, lower-cost, safe and accessible first-line detection modality.