Angelina Jolie's 'Jewish Genetic Mutation': Breast Cancer Gene Is Common in Israel, but Few Opt for Preventive Mastectomy

A study of 5,405 U.S. women with the common Ashkenazi Jewish mutation that increases carriers' risk of breast cancer, who were treated at the Mayo Clinic during the 1990s, found 45 percent chose prophylactic mastectomy, like Angelina Jolie.

The "faulty" gene that Angelina Jolie credited with her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy is one of three genetic mutations known as "Ashkenazi Jewish mutations," which are common among Jews of Eastern European descent and increase their carriers' risk of developing breast cancer. Nevertheless, relatively few Israeli women choose to undergo the same preventative surgery.