WOODBURY - The American Cancer Society has released new guidelines when it comes to women and breast cancer.

The group now says most women should start annual screenings at 45 years old instead of 40 years old.

In addition, it advises switching screenings to every other year at age 55 rather than at 50 and that everyone can skip the routine manual breast checks by doctors.

The Cancer Society's chief medical officer Dr. Otis Brawley says although mammograms can save lives, they also have a relatively high false positive rate.

"If she starts screening at the age of 40, she increases dramatically the lifetime risk that she's going to have a false positive result," Dr. Brawley says.

The guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer.

Those with higher risk are generally recommended for more intensive screenings.

Critics of the new guidelines also point out that the Cancer Society's research is based on film mammograms, which are nearly obsolete in the United States.

Newer, digital mammograms have a lower false positive rate and do a better job of detecting cancer, according to experts.