Angelina Jolie recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times describing the impact breast cancer has had in her life. Angelina Jolie is a carrier of a gene mutation known as BRCA 1. Carriers of this gene mutation have an 80% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The only known prevention is double mastectomy.
BRCA 1 and 2 genes are normal genes found in the body. The typical role of these genes is to keep DNA stable and prevent cells from growing out of control, or mutating. Mutations of either BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes can lead to loss of cell control and the development of various cancers, among which breast and ovarian cancers are most prevalent.