“Cancer Researchers Find “The Angelina Jolie Effect” By Kyle Hill, Nerdist.

When Angelina Jolie learned about her own genetic predisposition to breast cancer – and made her diagnosis and treatment very public – she unknowingly urged thousands of women to follow her lead. The announcement of her surgery was maybe more galvanizing than any recent pink-tinted campaign. But is that a good thing?

“BRCA 1″ and “BRCA 2″ denote two genes in our DNA that produce tumor-suppressing proteins. When BRCA 1/2 mutate in a specific way, that suppression can fail, leading to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. About 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer sometime in their lives. Of these women, only 5 to 10 percent will develop a hereditary breast cancer. And only one quarter of those will be linked to a mutation on a BRCA gene.

Yet according to a team of researchers in the UK led by Dr. Gareth Evans, professor of clinical genetics at Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, who looked at 12 family history clinics and 9 genetic centers in the UK, genetic screening requests for the BRCA 1/2 mutation and inquiries about mastectomies significantly increased in the time frame before and after Jolie’s announcement (between 2012 and 2013), and breast cancer referrals almost tripled. Evans and colleagues published the study in the journal Breast Cancer Research, suggesting that “The Angelina Jolie Effect has been long lasting and global.”

Though Jolie brought her mutation out of the genome and into the limelight, the percentage of women potentially in Jolie’s is much smaller than you might expect. Not only that, but the number of women for whom a double mastectomy is a sensible treatment – medications and lifestyle changes are other, viable options – is even smaller.

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