As per the recent Slate.com article, the Feds are not suggesting that breast cancer screening begin in earnest at age 50, instead of 40, and that self-exams are a waste of time. Now, as a straight man, I absolutely opposed to this notion, as it increases the risk to one of the things that makes life worth living: boobs.
That said, it appears that the Feds are basing their recommendation on sound statistical evidence. If you ever, on a theological basis, wanted to know how God can know everything, but yet still allow free will, then study statistics, or more specifically, the law of big numbers. The bigger the sampling data, the more you can predict virtually anything. So, as someone who believes in statistics, the Feds are probably right on this one.
But here's the problem: a woman deciding to start mammograms at 40 or 50 isn't going to play the percentages the way that I might. That's because, if the woman chooses wrongly, SHE DIES A HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL DEATH. Or, at least, she becomes disfigured and suffers greatly. Given that a HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL DEATH and/or DISFIGUREMENT is highly disfavored, women will, by and large, choose to continue to getting mammograms at 40, as well as do self-exams.
12-Year-Old Boy Scouts Volunteer To Give Women Breast Exams
All jokes aside, this represents a fundamental issue in health care - when faced with a risk of death, people will tend to overconsume health care. And, let's face it, when choosing between extra expense and HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL DEATH, the odds go out the window. That's why Doctors don't compete based on price, but rather, on the services they provide. Medicine is the only market where competition raises costs.