Tags: Cancer | Angelina Jolie | mastectomy | breast | cancer | impact

'Angelina Effect' Was Mixed Blessing for Breast Cancer Awareness

'Angelina Effect' Was Mixed Blessing for Breast Cancer Awareness
Actress Angelina Jolie. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 10 August 2015 03:07 PM


Angelina Jolie was praised for being so outspoken when she underwent a double mastectomy. One poll found that 86 percent of American women had heard of Jolie's experience, and it spurred about 5 percent of them to say they would ask their doctor whether they should have a preventive mastectomy or ovary removal. But even though the health disclosures of some celebrities have positive impacts on the public, that's not always the case. Sometimes they can do harm.

Australian-born singer and actress Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s. Although there was a surge of biopsies in Australia and the United Kingdom, there wasn't an increase in diagnoses of breast cancer, meaning women underwent biopsies needlessly.

After losing her husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer at the age of 42, Katie Couric became an advocate for colon cancer screening, and underwent a colonoscopy in 2000 that was shown on NBC's "The Today Show." According to the National Institutes of Health, colonoscopies increased by almost 20 percent, although the impact didn't last.

The "Angelina Effect" seems to be different. But why? At least five studies have investigated the effects of Jolie's preventive mastectomy on the public, according to MedicalXpress. One study, published in Genetics in Medicine, found 103 newspaper articles published within a month of her announcement, but said that the rarity of her condition was not made clear to the public, a challenge, it said, to "celebrity medicine."

Internet searches on breast cancer and genetic testing for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 cancer genes peaked, but quickly diminished, said another study, indicating no lasting effect.

Other studies found that although most people were aware of Jolie's mastectomy, many people were shocked at how high Jolie's risk was because of her inherited genes, but ended up confused about how family history affects cancer risk.

According to MedicalXpress, it appears the Angelina Effect, while generally positive, was short-lived. Also, Jolie's situation was rare and didn't correspond to average cancer risks.

In March of 2015, Jolie announced she had undergone surgery to remove both of her ovaries. While it attracted a boost in Google searches, it didn't garner as many as her marriage in 2014.

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Angelina Jolie was praised for being so outspoken when she underwent a double mastectomy. One poll found that 86 percent of American women had heard of Jolie's experience, and it spurred about 5 percent of them to say they would ask their doctor whether they should have a...
Angelina Jolie, mastectomy, breast, cancer, impact
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2015-07-10
Monday, 10 August 2015 03:07 PM
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