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AbledPeople Special Report Post Banner shows Angelina Jolie in a grey suit dress shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth The Second of Great Britain, who is wearing a beige peach dress, in a drawing room at Buckingham Palace. The Queen presented Jolie with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George for her campaign to end sexual violence in war zones.
AbledPeople photo shows UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie posing for photographers as she arrives at the 'End Sexual Violence in Conflict' summit. The caption reads: Study: 'Angelina Effect' more than doubled breast cancer tests in Canada and the UK.

“The ‘Angelina Effect’ has been long-lasting and global and appears to have increased referrals to centres appropriately.”

That’s the word from a team led by Professor Gareth Evans of the University of Manchester in Great Britain. Referrals to breast cancer clinics more than doubled in the UK after Angelina Jolie announced in May, 2013 that she had undergone a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after being told she had an 87 percent chance of developing cancer because she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation.

The researchers looked at referrals to more than 20 genetic centers and clinics in the UK  in the two months that followed Jolie’s revelation and found the number of GP referrals for  genetic counseling and DNA tests for the BRCA1 gene mutation increased more than 2.5 times over the same period a year earlier.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, found the effect lasted by about the same proportion from August to October, and mirrored trends around the world.

Here’s a summary of results from various countries:

UNITED KINGDOM: Study finds the ‘Angelina Effect’ prompted a 2.5x surge in women undergoing genetic testing for breast cancer.

UNITED STATES: Testing for breast cancer genes has doubled since Angelina Jolie’s essay on her double mastectomy. On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court also removed the patent on  breast cancer gene testing, making it more widely available and affordable. Jolie’s essay in the New York Times had been published concurrently with the Supreme Court deliberations on the validity of the BRCA gene patent rights held by Myriad Genetics, and she had acknowledged the largely prohibitive cost of the gene mutation testing and advocated wider accessibility.

CANADA: Study done by Sunnybrook Hospital’s Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto shows the number of women at high risk for hereditary cancer considering genetic testing has doubled following Angelina Jolie’s revelation of her preventative choices.

 AUSTRALIA: Referrals to cancer genetic clinics tripled. The Cancer Council of Victoria reported a 1,033 percent increase in calls to its helpline.

NEW ZEALAND: Calls to breast cancer helpline tripled following Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy.

Praise and Criticism Followed Preventative Procedure

 

Angelina Jolie, Oscar®-winning actress and director, and Special Envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, dropped a bombshell in a New York Times Op-Ed piece that she had undergone a double mastectomy as a preventative measure against against breast cancer.

As the news spread virally online and by word-of-mouth, the focus was more on the mastectomy rather than the careful and sober reasoning behind the decision, prompting some ill-informed criticism across the blogosphere.

Those who took the time to read a little further into Jolie’s op-ed learned that, “I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman. Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average”.

Jolie’s risk was inherited from her mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand. “My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56,” Jolie writes. “She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.”

 

Photos of Marcheline Bertrand and Angelina Jolie at different ages

 

Jolie’s mother died in January 2007. She had small roles in the movies “Lookin’ to Get Out” in 1982 and “The Man Who Loved Women” in 1983. She raised Jolie and her brother after divorcing their father, Oscar®-winning actor Jon Voight, when Jolie was a toddler.

Cancer has taken a horrible toll on Jolie’s relatives on her mother’s side of the family. Her aunt Debbie was also fighting a losing battle with BRCA1 at the time of Angelina’s announcement and died soon after. More on her condition was revealed in the following report on the TV program Inside Edition:

 

Link to Inside Edition story about Angelina Jolie's Aunt Debbie and her battle with breast cancer

 

Jolie has appeared in dozens of films including 2010’s “The Tourist” and “Salt,” the “Tomb Raider” films, and 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted,” for which she won an Academy Award. But she has gained more recognition in recent years for her relationship with Brad Pitt and the family of six children they are raising together, as well as for her charitable work with refugees around the world as a United Nations Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner For Refugees.

It was that work that led to her directorial feature debut with “In the Land of Blood and Honey” (2011), a love story between a Serb soldier and a Bosniak prisoner of war, set during the 1992–95 Bosnian War. Jolie, who had twice visited Bosnia-Herzegovina in her capacity as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, explained that she made the film to rekindle attention for the survivors of a war that took place in recent history.

After Jolie went public with her Op-Ed, Pitt issued a statement to London’s Evening Standard. “Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as many others like her, absolutely heroic,” Pitt said in the statement. “I thank our medical team for their care and focus.” “All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children,” Pitt continued. “This is a happy day for our family.”

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also paid tribute to Jolie, who kept working as a UN Special Envoy throughout the past three months, and made a high-profile trip to the Congo alongside Hague, later appearing with him, and a delegation from the United States, at the G8 Summit in London in April to call for an end to sexual violence in conflict zones.

 

Angelina Jolie at the G8 Summit in London, calls for an end to sexual violence in conflict zones.

   

Hague (pictured left in the above photo) said, “This is a brave choice by a remarkable woman. The courage it must have taken not only to go through this treatment but then to speak about it to help other women is truly inspiring. Throughout it all her humanitarian work has not missed a beat. This is a courageous decision by one of the bravest people I know. I wish her and her family the very best.”

Photo of Angelina Jolie at the G8 summit in the UK in early May, 2013

 

    

“For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.

I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

Angelina Jolie

About Abled - An Abled Vision shows Abled.com Co-Founder Laura Meddens photographed at the seaside in Curaçao at dusk. Click to go to the page.

Angelina Jolie – An Inspiration For Women Everywhere 

This profile of Angelina Jolie is one of many stories that we hope will provide you with inspirational and insightful information to help you ask informed questions of your health care professionals and to help you make informed choices if you face similar circumstances in your own life.

By showcasing her work as a Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and her pioneering work with former U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague to end sexual violence in conflict zones, we hope to further raise awareness about the plight of millions of people around the world, and support for proposed solutions.

We’re building global networks to help everyone live a more Abled® life with an emphasis on Content, Products, Services and Technology that are fully accessible and inclusive to persons with special needs, including applications and devices that contribute to more independence and the dignity of self-sustainability.

It’s a work-in-progress and we hope you don’t mind if some of our link banners will lead to an ‘Under Construction’ page, but we hope you’ll visit often to watch our evolution as more links go live, and we thank you for your kind interest and support.

 

Laura Meddens

Co-Founder, Abled.com

Click here to read the original Op-Ed in the New York Times
Link box shows a colored strand of DNA with the caption 'What is BRCA1'. CLick to link to more information at Wikipedia.com
Click here to link to Angelina's treatment journal at the Pink Lotus Breast Center

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