“Media Coverage of Angelina Jolie’s Choices for Cancer Prevention,” Health News Review.

Health News Review evaluates health news using systematic criteria to assess the extent to which a news story uses independent sources, adequately addresses evidence, quantifies harms as well as benefits, identifies conflicts of interest, contributes to disease mongering, establishes the true novelty of the approach, and considers existing alternatives, costs, and availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure. See how HNR rated recent coverage in The New York Times of Angelina Jolie’s decisions to undergo prophylactic surgeries to reduce her cancer risk.

In our celebrity-obsessed culture, health recommendations from famous people carry more weight than they should. So when someone like Angelina Jolie goes public with her health care decision-making, the news media need to be ready to compare that narrative against the evidence. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. Although relatively uncommon, the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations place both men and women with the mutation at an increased risk of a variety of cancers. In women, the risk of breast and ovarian cancer is sufficient to make elective removal of breasts and ovaries a standard of care.

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