New Device Illuminates Breast Tissue With Red Light, But Is It Helpful Or Hurtful?Katie Taylor
Regular self-exams? Check. Annual mammograms? Check. Regular use of a handheld device that illuminates your breast an eerie red color? Well… not yet.
A new device, the Pink Luminous Breast, promises “groundbreaking technology for the greater good.” Reactions to the device are mixed.
It’s designed as a device to help women (and men) become more intimately familiar with their breast tissue. It’s an at-home device, about the size of an electric razor, that shines red LED light into breast tissue. This light illuminates blood tissue and can reveal the blood vessel formation patterns associated with tumors and lesions.
The Pink Luminous Breast device, according to the website, “can be a powerful tool in giving you an early edge in detecting potentially harmful tissues and masses.” It works on any size of breast, any skin tone, and on tissue that has undergone surgery such as mastectomy or augmentation.
The idea is appealing—a device that monitors breast health in the privacy of your own home. But it’s not a substitute for regular screenings. According to the disclaimer at the end of the “How It Works” section of the website, the Pink Luminous Breast is not a diagnostic device and is intended only to help users become more familiar with their breasts. The technology it uses, transillumination, has been around since the 1920s, and at $159 each, it seems accessible (enough) to most people.
But some worry that the device will have negative effects. If consumers accept the website’s marketing that “Prevention is the key to a healthy and long life” and that, presumably, this new device can check the box of prevention, will women feel they can skip their mammograms? Or could it cause unnecessary worry about the tissue it illuminates? Will the Pink Luminous Breast device’s positives outweigh its negatives?
Cheryl Wischhover, writer for Racked.com, was not impressed. She feels the Pink Luminous Breast’s website uses emotional manipulation and plays on people’s fears to market the device, and she remains skeptical even after trying out the device herself. “Unfortunately, all it really did for me was make my breasts glow red, like some sort of sexy robot,” she writes.
But if the product is used as founder Marylin Dans recommends, as a compliment to mammograms and screenings, perhaps it could indeed encourage breast health awareness. Dans says that the company is working with oncologists and radiologists who are testing the product in their practices. Perhaps more information about the device’s reliability as a prevention method will be available soon.
Will their be a glowing red light in your future? Perhaps, but at any rate, but don’t forget to schedule those mammograms.
Stay healthy, friends!