• Angelina Jolie Rethink

    Posted May 19, 2013: by Bill Sardi

    The announcement was too slick.  The news media rolled it out, heralding 37-year old Angelina Jolie’s bravery in disclosing her decision to have her breasts prophylactically removed solely based upon detection of a mutated BRCA gene that posed a high future risk for breast cancer maybe two or three decades in her future.

    It was coordinated with simultaneous press releases from Ms. Jolie’s female breast surgeon at the Pink Lotus Breast Center and an appeal before the Supreme Court by a biotechnology company to uphold its patent application involving the BRCA gene.

    Was this serendipity or a well-orchestrated public relations campaign to persuade fearful women to undergo needless care?  Is the Supreme Court ready to rule against the applied-for BRCA-gene patent by a biotech company in the face of hordes of women who may feel the highest court in the land is insensitive to their fears?

    Inexplicable recovery

    Inexplicably, Angelina Jolie was back at work within four days after her surgery in February, while women who write online about their experience after double-mastectomy surgery warn of unbearable fatigue and onerous side effects and medication schedules.

    Maybe breast surgeon Kristi Funk waves some magic wand to avert these prolonged side effects with the homeopathic and vitamin supplements she prescribes after surgery.  But when other women choose to undergo double-mastectomy and don’t bounce back like Mr. Jolie did, they may feel like they have been misled.

    This makes one wonder if Ms. Jolie’s surgery even occurred at all and this whole extravaganza is a Hollywood production where fiction is morphed into imagined reality.

    High drama: just another act?

    Ms. Jolie’s private life is like a Hollywood movie, with a history of suicidal depression, self-harm, and bedroom boyfriends since the age of 14.  Today she is lauded as a heroine that is helping women seek out all their options when they face breast cancer.

    Well, not quite all of their options.  What they won’t hear is that low-dose x-ray radiation emitted during mammograms induces instability in chromosomes that can lead to the very same mutated BRCA gene that caused Ms. Jolie to fulfill her quest for self-mutilation.

    This sounds like the breast cancer care industry is drumming up its own business by inducing the gene mutations with repeated mammograms and then being undeservedly lauded for saving women’s lives.

    Her surgeon, Dr. Kristi Funk runs a slick medical practice in partnership with her entrepreneur husband.  Who knows how much playing footsy goes on between the Funk’s and the biotech company that is touting its $3300 BRCA gene mutation test?  Hollywood is not above such arrangements.

    Just the beginning

    What is the bottom line advice being passed along to American women here?  Are healthy women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer now going to be urged by fearful family members to undergo repeated mammograms and BRCA gene testing, nine of ten which will initially be negative?  Then over time, the x-ray radiation emitted from the mammography machine induces the BRCA gene mutation in what becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    By the way, this may be just the first of many campaigns launched to test for gene-mutations that can lead to future cases of cancer.  Who knows, tests may follow that cause healthy men to have their prostate glands removed.  Men are even more vulnerable to such a sales pitch with 30% exhibiting precancerous cells in the prostate by the age of 30.  The new mantra may be — why wait till cancer starts, just have it removed!  Imagine your auto mechanic suggesting you replace your carburetor because of the future chance it might fail.

    As I write this report, sure enough, it has just been announced that the first man in the world to undergo prostate removal surgery solely based upon the future threat of cancer has just been announced.  The man carries a mutated from of the BRCA-2 gene.  The news report says: “Doctors were eventually persuaded to operate when a tissue sample showed up microscopic malignant changes.”  He had precancerous cells in his prostate which may never threaten his life.  There are various ways to convert precancerous cells back to normal, one being pumpkin seed oil, which patients never hear about.

    An estimated 1 million BRCA gene tests have been conducted since they became available in 1996.  Maybe millions of women are now expected sign up for this expensive test.  Just so women reading this report know, there are maybe 20 other genes involved in breast cancer aside from the BRCA gene.

    Lessons in medical decision making

    A read of the online postings at the Pink Lotus Breast Center website is an instructive exercise in human psychology.

    One woman’s posting characterizes the thinking of many.  Here is an excerpt of what she said, with critical commentary.

    “Anyone who thinks Angelina – or any woman – should have to wait for a cancer diagnosis before deciding to remove her breasts is either a fool or a sadist.  At this point, mastectomies are the least of my worries.  I’m just praying the medicines, radiation and surgery will save my life.  No women should have to go through what I am going through.  Believe me, if I could go back to my 37th year and remove my breasts, I would do it in a heartbeat……… I can’t wait for these breasts to be gone.  They were trying to kill me.”

    This woman explains she began undergoing be-annual mammograms at age 40 and obviously had no idea that radiation from mammography may have hastened her diagnosis.  She calls Angelina Jolie her “soul sister.”

    Another woman opined that had Angelina Jolie not decided to undergo surgical removal of her healthy breasts it would have been like “putting a gun that is 87% full of bullets to her head and then proceed to pull the trigger.”  Fortunately, another more reasoned woman said this analogy was flawed, that “simply being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence………. And if 87% can get breast cancer it would be helpful to know how many of those die from it?”

    Another woman told of her ordeal in getting her HMO to pay for prophylactic breast surgery.  She says “then one day a miracle happened.  The doctor listened to my request and granted it.”  She said she had to come up with a co-payment that she was willing to pay “because I wanted peace of mind.”  She said surgery would cause her mother to “stop harping in my ear to get tested for the BRCA gene mutation.”  Women with a family history of breast cancer are 8 times more likely to opt for treatment.

    Just how will healthcare costs ever be controlled when we are treating imagined future diseases?

    A re-run

    All of this brings to mind the time when women with advanced-stage breast cancer clamored for ineffective bone marrow transplants in a desperate but misdirected attempt to save their lives.  Doctors and hospitals urged their patients to run to local newspapers and TV stations and assail their insurance plan for withholding care in order to increase profits off a dying woman.  Surgeons knew well that bone marrow transplants weren’t saving women.  They were just lining their pockets.  Is this BRCA escapade just a modern re-run of that sad episode that gripped American healthcare a decade ago?

    Stay tuned.  This saga is not going to end.  The sequels will offer even more high drama as insurance companies circle their wagons in preparation for an onslaught of women who will now demand their breasts be removed based solely on fear.

    Sadly, surveys show 7 of 10 women would follow Angelina Jolie’s lead.  No woman shall be left behind.  Why even conduct screening mammography or gene tests? Just have them removed.  Why should a woman live in constant fear?  It is her private decision and right to have her breasts lopped off, right?  But is modern medicine relieving or preying upon women’s fears?

    When the insurance gates open, double-mastectomy will become the fastest growing surgical procedure in America.  Want a stock tip? Should that occur, invest in breast implant companies.  © 2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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One Response to “Angelina Jolie Rethink”

  1. Kevin Says:
    May 29th, 2013 at 1:40 am

    This article reminded me that my veterinarian’s biggest argument for neutering a dog is that it eliminates risk of testicular cancer.

    It’s hard to believe anyone buys into this theory that women should remove their breasts to eliminate the risk of breast cancer. For people who agree with this logic: remember to ask your doctor about having your brain removed to prevent brain cancer.

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