The 2003 announcement that the Human Genome Project was complete marked an important point in medical history. 20 universities and a lot of government spending yielded 92% of our genes sequenced with 99.99% accuracy, giving us a view of our DNA that was impossible only a short time ago.
The benefits of this knowledge are still, and will always be, a matter of question and debate. One of the first uses, which started mid-way through the project, was screening people for specific genes that indicate predisposition to specific diseases.
Which brings us to Angelina Jolie. Ask ten people why she is famous and you will get ten different answers. One of those people is bound to bring up her preventative double mastectomy. There was confusion about the actress’s motive even after she stated it explicitly. Her reason, in a nutshell, was in her genes.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that suppress tumours. They aid in the repair of DNA and cell stabilization. If these genes have a mutation they do not function properly, and that person’s DNA cannot repair the way that someone with non-mutated genes can. One of the consequences is being more prone to aggressive cancers, including in the breast.
So why did Angelina Jolie opt for the procedure she did? You guessed it. She tested positive for BRCA mutation.
BRCA mutations are mostly associated with breast and ovarian cancer, but also have links to prostate, perineal, fallopian, and pancreatic cancers. Just how telling is this little mutation? Up to 10% of all breast cancers in females and 40% in males have a direct connection to BRCA mutation. Add to that 15% of all ovarian cancers and you can start to get a sense of how important BRCA1 and BRCA2 are.
Our genes do not define us, and they guarantee nothing, but they can give us an idea about what our body is programmed towards.
People with a BRCA mutation tend to get diagnosed at a younger age and to develop aggressive cancers. Up to 65% of women with BRCA1 mutation and 45% of those with BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by 70. Similarly, 39% of women with BRCA1 mutation and 17% with BRCA2 mutation will develop ovarian cancer by age 70.
So a woman with a BRCA mutation has approximately a coin flip chance of getting breast cancer by her 70th birthday.
Someone whose parents carry a BRCA mutation has those same odds of inheriting the mutation.
Again, statistics are often just scary numbers that do not mean a lot to the individual. The important information is about prevention. Where do you want (or ought) to put your energy to meet your health goals.
If you have a family member with any of the cancers mentioned above, there is a chance you have a BRCA gene mutation. A quick blood test can show whether that is the case or not. Either way you will have better information to craft the healthiest life possible for yourself, perhaps factoring a little mutation into the formula.
And if that test does come back positive, we’re able to help through a wide variety of means to tilt those statistics in your favour. Diet and lifestyle changes, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, supplements, and so on. Everything tailored, everything proven, everything to help.
There’s no need to worry or wonder, and no matter what you feel about Angelina Jolie, she raised an excellent point about detection and prevention of cancer.
Decide for yourself. Contact us to take control.