Reduce the risks of breast cancer

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie was trending on Twitter Wednesday evening and it had nothing to do with her next blockbuster movie.
In a New York Times op-ed, the sultry celebrity revealed her decision to have a double-mastectomy as a preventive measure. The 37-year-old actress learned she had an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which is the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer. Jolie’s mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56.
“My doctor estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer,” Jolie wrote in the opinion piece.
Jolie’s double mastectomy reduced her risk of breast cancer to about 5 percent.
Genetic testing for BRCA gene mutations can cost as much as $3,000 and is not always covered by insurance. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that only women with a strong family history be tested.
A strong family history includes those with two first-degree relatives (mother, sisters or daughters) with breast cancer, one of whom was diagnosed before they turned 50. Three or more aunts and grandmothers with breast cancer would also be suspect.
People with the mutation have options other than preventative surgery. Some choose to closely monitor their health rather than opting for it. There are also drugs that have been prescribed for reducing the risk of breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, fish and poultry for lowering risks of cancer.  Regular physical activity, limited use of alcohol and avoiding weight-gain are also recommended.