Are mammograms actually effective? Several conflicting studies have come out in the past few years, leading some to pose this question. Don’t fear though ladies. An even newer study from Dutch researchers indicates that they do work, but older women might be getting more out of them.

For women between 50 and 75 years old, mammogram screenings may reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by almost half.

According to the study, which was published in ‘Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,’ women in that age group who had at least three mammograms in the Netherlands national screening program before they were diagnosed with breast cancer were 49 percent less likely to die of the disease overall.

Specifically, women aged 50 to 69 saw a 39 percent reduction in mortality, and women between 70 and 75 had the greatest benefit of 84 percent fewer breast cancer deaths.

US doctors credit the European screening program for the results shown in the study. “It is a well-oiled machine,” said Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “Here, some women go from one mammography center to another, or they get them done on a van, or old mammograms can’t be found for comparison. That doesn’t happen in the Dutch system.”

He added, “These results do make us all feel good about our recommendations for screening women in their 50′s and 60′s… it does show that screening does save lives.”

[Web MD]