Breast Cancer Genes: A New Consumer Test

Have you heard of 23andMe? In the USA, it is a leading consumer genetics and research company. I have used it to learn about my ancestry and genetic predispositions. But can the test help you spot weaknesses in your genes (maybe you have a mutation that puts you at higher risk for heart disease), providing you a change to make changes in your lifestyle to improve your risk? Well, we just got some big news from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding 23andMe’s direct-to-consumer genetic test on cancer risk.

The test can use your saliva and check for genetic variants in the breast cancer genes 1 and 2 (BRCA1 and BRCA2). When such mutations are present, the risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancer can increase dramatically. For example, the risk of breast cancer for a woman with a BRCA mutation may be up to 85 percent by the age of 70. While these mutations are most common among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, anyone could have a BRCA mutation. Wouldn’t it be nice if individuals knew if they had the gene, such that they could consider risk-reducing maneuvers (ranging from removing the breasts and ovaries, to incorporating MRI into regular breast screening)?

The FDA approval of this consumer test for evaluating your DNA for a BRCA mutation is a big deal. No prescription needed. You are empowered. And I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. I invite you to explore more of my blog here: Wellness! Please consider following me by signing up below. Thank you in advance.