Breast Cancer Genes

On July 12, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article reporting that women who possess the BRCA genetic mutations, known as “breast cancer genes” do not have a higher risk of dying than patients with no BRCA mutations.  The study was completed by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto.

“With the new study, we can offer the reassurance that in spite of a bad profile of prognostic factors in carriers, their survival rate is actually at least as good as for noncarriers,” said Technion researcher Dr. Gad Rennert.

COMMENT:  BRCA1-associated breast cancers tend to occur in younger women, are high-grade and are not estrogen-receptor positive, all factors which are associated with a poorer outcome. In addition, BRCA mutations are more common among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. About 2 percent of all Ashkenazi women carry a mutation in one of these two genes.  Some 60 percent of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi. According to The New England Journal, learning that you have one of the genes in the presence of breast cancer adds little to a clinician’s ability to select a therapy or predict the course of disease.

 

If you have not been tested for the BRAC genes, you may decide to opt out of this testing.  Since the presence of the gene doesn’t make any difference in survival *if* you contract breast cancer, then why would you want to identify a ticking time bomb living in your chest? If you believe (even a little bit) that you get what you think about, knowing that you have a cancer gene in your breast tissue just might attract the cancer.

 

The real risk of developing breast cancer if you have one of the genes has been inconsistent in the medical literature. Despite this, many women are opting for testing and bilateral “preventive” mastectomies if they have the gene. While that may give some peace of mind, for others, a better option is close follow up and a plan of action to keep breasts healthy.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Appeal to your insurance company to pay for a baseline MRI, especially if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. 

  • Have semi-annual clinical breast exams and thermograms instead of only annual exams.

  • Take breast healing supplements, such as DIM, calcium-d-glucarate and tumeric.

  • Use a rebounder 10 to 15 minutes a day to keep your lymphatic channels flowing.

  • And think about healthy breasts instead of worrying about getting cancer: Remember the Law of Attraction…you get what you dwell upon.

 

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