Jewish Women Call Angelina Jolie Inspiration for Breast Cancer Surgery

Brings Star Power to BRCA Gene Mutation Fight

Star Power: Breast cancer advocates hailed Angelina Jolie for openly discussing her decision to undergo a double mastectomy.
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Star Power: Breast cancer advocates hailed Angelina Jolie for openly discussing her decision to undergo a double mastectomy.

By Anne Cohen

Published May 15, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
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“I see people every day who should have been referred for genetic testing five years ago, and I’m petrified for them,” she said. “It’s fantastic that she wrote it.”

Wiesman added that the Program for Jewish Genetic Health recently launched a campaign promoting awareness of genetic testing and OF breast and ovarian cancer in the Jewish community.

“I’m just grateful that this is something that will get the word out there in a way that the medical community hasn’t been able to,” Wiesman said.

Despite the enthusiastic reaction to Jolie’s statement, some are wary that the publicity might encourage women to make rash decisions about potentially life-altering health choices.

“Unfortunately it might spur some women who aren’t at high risk to look into genetic testing, as well,” Schlager explained.

Rudnick disagreed, saying that the number of women who might be saved by knowing more about their potential risk far outweighs the potential danger.

“I don’t worry that there’s going to be hysteria,” she said. “These diseases are incredibly difficult to fight, and I’m much more worried about the people who aren’t getting the information until it’s too late.”

Jolie’s revelation comes at a crucial time for Jewish cancer victims and advocates.

In April, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the validity of Myriad Genetics & Laboratories’ patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, a divisive case that has split advocates.

Advocates of gene patenting argue that if pharmaceutical companies don’t have the financial incentive provided by the patent system, research will stagnate. Still others question the very validity of a patent on something that was discovered rather than invented.

The high court is expected to rule on the issue sometime in June, Schlager said.


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