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Did Angelina Jolie Make a Mistake by Acting on the 'Breast Cancer

Did Angelina Jolie Make a Mistake by Acting on the 'Breast Cancer

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Published by Gary Moller
The 'prophylactic' removal of women's breasts due to BRCA1/BRCA2 status has become a disturbingly popular trend, and increasingly it is being celebrated in the mainstream media and medical establishments as a reasonable choice. But does the scientific evidence itself refute this approach?
The 'prophylactic' removal of women's breasts due to BRCA1/BRCA2 status has become a disturbingly popular trend, and increasingly it is being celebrated in the mainstream media and medical establishments as a reasonable choice. But does the scientific evidence itself refute this approach?

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Gary Moller on Jun 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Did Angelina Jolie Make A Mistake By Acting On The 'BreastCancer Gene' Theory?
Posted on:
Tuesday, May 14th 2013 at 12:45 pm
Written By:Sayer Ji, Founder
The 'prophylactic' removal of women's breasts due to BRCA1/BRCA2 status has become a disturbingly popular trend, and increasingly it is being celebrated in the mainstream media and medical establishments as a reasonable choice. But does the scientific evidence itself refute this approach? 
Angelina Jolie's recent announcement in aNew York Times op-edthat she had a 'prophylactic'double mastectomy due to her
status has disturbing implications, some of whichwe covered late last year in connection with Allyn Rose, the 24-year old Miss America contestantwho announced she would be undergoing a double
mastectomy to "prevent" breast cancer
.Beyond the fact that as high-profile celebrities their decisions will affect millions of women'sperception of the procedure, likely making them more accepting of the concept, theirdecisions alsoreflect profound misconceptions about gene-mediated disease risk embedded deeply within popularconsciousness, from which prevailing medical opinion is hardly immune.First, there is a common misconception about the role that the so-called breast cancer susceptibility
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genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, play in breast cancer disease risk and prognosis. BRCA mutations varywidely by ethnicity and are exceedingly rare in the general population, which is why, asNBCNews.com recently reported, "The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that onlywomen with a strong family history even think about getting a BRCA genetic test –which is only 2percent of U.S. women." But even in those in which a BRCA mutation is identified, the genes, inand of themselves, do not alone make the disease.Despite the commonplace refusal of so-called 'evidence-based medicine' to acknowledge the
of genetics, we moved into a Post-Genomic era over a decade ago following thecompletion of first draft of the entire human genome in 2000. At that moment, the central dogmaof molecular biology – that our DNA controls protein expression, and therefore disease risk – wasdisproved. Our genome was found to contain roughly 20,000 genetic instructions – notevenenough to account for the 100,000 proteins in the human body!As a result, we must now accept that factors beyond the control of the gene, known as epigeneticfactors, and largely determined by a combination of nutrition, psychospiritual states that feed backinto our physiology, lifestyle factors, and environmental exposures, constitute as high as 95% of what determines any disease risk. In fact, even the psychological trauma associated with beingdiagnosed with cancer can drive malignancy via adrenaline-mediated multi-drug resistance,[i]andaccording to a recent NEJM study, lead up to a 26-fold increased risk of heart-related deaths in theseven days following diagnosis.[ii]Given this fact, Jolie's decision to have a bilateral mastectomy in order to excisefrom her body thebreast tissue that contains BRCA1/BRCA2 genes which are known to interfere with therepair of radiation-induced DNA damage, rather than focusing on reducing or eliminating all future radiationexposure from her breasts, or incorporating hundreds of 
nutritional componentsexperimentally confirmed to protect against radiation
and associated genotoxic insults to thebreast, reflects a iron clad faith in the inevitability of gene-driven cancer vis-à-vis a fundamentallypowerless subject, versus trust in the body's ability to prevent and heal all disease, assuming it hasthe right conditions.Another common misconception is that you either have, or don't have the "BRACA genes," as if they were monolithic entities, ascertained with the black and white certainty of a pregnancy test. Itis a little known fact that
of "mutations" in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have alreadybeen identified and characterized on a molecular level, adding much more complexity to the picturethan the present level of medical knowledge can claim to convert into compelling statistical riskcalculations and actionable treatment recommendations.These mutations are technically known as gene polymorphisms which are naturally occurringvariations of a gene present in more than 1% of the populations.
It will come to many as asurprise to learn that some of these so-called "mutations" actually REDUCE the risk obreast cancer
. BRCA1 variation K1 183R is related
to cancer risk, leading the authors of a review on the topic titled, "The case against BRCA1 and 2 testing," to conclude: "It seems thatsome polymorphisms may actually have a
effect."[iii]Moreover, research exists showingthat BRCA2 mutation carriers and non-carriers have similar breast cancer-specific rates of breast-cancer specific death,[iv]and that although BRCA positive patients have more frequently negativeprognostic factors, their prognosis appears to be equal to or better than in patients with normal,also known as wild-type, BRCA.[v]Another concerning blind spot in the framing of Jolie's decision is that approximately 70,000 breastcancers (31% of annual breast cancers diagnoses) are misdiagnosed by the vast
breast cancer'awareness' and treatment complex
each year.[vi]These are not just so-called "zero stage"breast cancers such as
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
(DCIS), which arguably should be reclassifiedas non-cancerous normal variations in breast morphology, but 50% are known as early-stage"invasive" breast cancers [view NEJM studyvideo analysis here].How many of these women, having received a mammography-detected diagnosis of breast cancerand then a follow up BRCA test, believed that the gene must have therefore "caused" the "cancer"?The popularization of this crude way of understanding natural, sometimes self-limiting variations in
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breast morphology as cases of "breast cancer" is itself a malignancy that should be prevented andtreated with healthy doses of the very 'evidence' that the so-called 'evidence-based' medicalsystem claims to possess as a differentiating factor from other, more ancient, plant- andnutrition-based medical traditions.Last November, an article published in NEJM found that
1.3 million US women wereoverdiagnosed and overtreated
for so-called "breast cancer" in the past 30 years. These werescreen-detected abnormal breast findings that would never have progressed to cause harm in thewomen in which they were diagnosed. These women, while essentially iatrogenic victims of medicine, being given standard treatment options, including mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation,chemotherapy, were considered statistically as "survivors" whose lives were saved bythe medicalestablishment, and these cases further inflated the statistics to make it appear that conventionaltreatment interventions are far more effective than they actually are.Given these facts, Jolie's decision conceals a dark side that she, like millions of other Americanwomen, are completely unaware of. For example, look at the soaring stock response ofMyriadGenetics, the patent-holders of the human genes BRCA1/BRCA2, soon after Jolie's announcementin this Yahoo Finance article published today:Myriad Genetics Shares Climb After Angelina Jolie HasMastectomy.The Utah-based company, contrary to popular opinion, owns patents on your BRCA genes(menhave them too). And not only that, as a recentSlate articleexplains:[Myriad Genetics] claims to own the rights to
test for the presence of the twocritical genes associated with breast cancer, and it has ruthlessly enforced that right,though their test is inferior to one that Yale University was willing to provide at muchlower cost. The consequences have been tragic: Thorough, affordable testing thatidentifies high-risk patients saves lives. Blocking such testing costs lives. Myriadis atrue example of an American corporation for which profit trumps all other values,including the value of human life itself.Given the fact that powerful, profit-driven corporations stand to reap profound financial benefitfrom the propagation of an oversimplified gene-driven theory of breast cancer susceptibility, wemust be cautious in jumping on the mainstream media and medical bandwagon by viewingJolie'sincreasingly popular decision uncritically. Consider also that women who undergo thesemastectomies often opt for breast implants which themselves have been linked to cancer, as wediscussed in our article from last year, "
Implanted: The Myth of the Cancer-Free BreastImplant
," and which onlyrecently were linked to more aggressive breast cancer, and lower breastcancer survival rates.What we want is the truth when it comes to understanding breast cancer risk, its natural history,and what preventive and therapeutic steps should be employed to reduce its progression andassociated suffering. Unfortunately, however, the breast cancer industry's influence stretches fromacademia to government, from KFC buckets of fried chicken to Smith & Wesson's pink ribbon-branded fire arms. All the more important to read between the lines, and remember that we aloneare responsible for educating ourselves, so that a truly informed choice is made possible.Please use our breast cancer health guide for direct access to the peer-reviewed andpublishedresearch on natural and integrative breast health interventions:
Health Guide: Breast Cancer
Stress Hormones Found To Make Cancer Resistant To Treatment
Research: Some Diagnoses Can Kill You Quicker Than TheCancer
[iii]Cheryl Lin, Tina Sasaki, Aaron Strumwasser, Alden Harken.
The case against BRCA 1 and2 testing
.Surgery. 2011 Jun ;149(6):731-4. PMID:21621683
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