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Discovery of “Jewish Gene” Leads To Angelina Jolie’s Decision

Oscar-Winning Actress Has Double Mastectomy

By: David Shear
Published: May 15th, 2013 in Health » World
Angelina Jolie
Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie, who recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy after discovering that she carried the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, known by many as “The Jewish gene”, hopes that her courageous decision will inspire other women to do what they must to defeat the devastating and life-threatening disease of breast cancer.

BRCA1 stands for breast cancer susceptibility gene 1. Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes known as tumor suppressors, which normally prevent cancer from developing but not in the case of Jolie.

And the mutations in Jolie’s genes are quite uncommon, with about one in 500 to one in 1,000 individuals carrying a mutation of a gene change in one or another of these genes.

However, in certain ethnicities, women are much more likely to carry the defective gene, especially Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern European ancestry, who carry approximately a one in 40 chance of having the mutated BRCA gene, much higher than the population-at-large.

On Tuesday, Jolie, 37, who rose to fame with her Best Actress Oscar-winning performance in 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted” and for her role as Laura Croft: Tomb Raider, wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times saying that the operation has made it easier for her to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, like her own mother did at 56.

“We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy’, and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me,” Jolie¸ who recently completed three months of surgeries, including breast reconstruction, wrote in the Op-Ed. “I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene.”

“Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy,” said Jolie who doctors predicted had an 87 per cent chance of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

Jolie, who recently became engaged to long-time love Brad Pitt, is a tireless advocate for a number of humanitarian efforts, and has served more than 10 years as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Related articles: Jewish gene, Breast Cancer, Angelina Jolie, Double Mastectomy
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