A new study shows that the actressâ€™s decision to go public with her illness has inspired thousands of women to get tested â€“ it’s called the “Angelina Effect”.
Hollywood star Angelina Jolieâ€™s decision to make public her double mastectomy has more than doubled the number of women in Britain seeking to have genetic breast cancer tests, according to a study released on Sept 19. Researchers studying data from 21 clinics and regional genetic centres found there were 4,847 referrals for testing in June and July last year â€“ compared to 1,981 in the same period in 2012.
Jolie, 39, who has become a high-profile human rights campaign, announced her surgery in May last year, saying she acted after testing positive for a mutation of the BRCA1 gene that significantly increases the risk of breast cancer.
She said she was going public with news of her surgery as she hoped her story would inspire other women to fight the life-threatening disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimated that more than 521,000 women died of breast cancer in 2012.
The study of the so-called â€œAngelina effectâ€, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, credited Jolieâ€™s glamorous appearance and relationship with Hollywood actor Brad Pitt for helping to lessen womenâ€™s fears about surgery.
â€œAngelina Jolie … is likely to have had a bigger impact than other celebrity announcements, possibly due to her image as glamorous and strong woman,â€ says researcher Gareth Evans of the charity Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention. â€œThis may have lessened patientsâ€™ fears about a loss of sexual identity post-preventative surgery and encouraged those who had not previously engaged with health services to consider genetic testing,â€ adds Evans.
Oscar-winning Jolie has in recent years drawn nearly as much attention for her globe-trotting work on behalf of refugees and victims of sexual violence in conflicts as for her acting. Jolie was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR in 2001 and promoted to be Special Envoy to High Commissioner Antonio Guterres in 2012. Since 2012 she has also led a campaign against sexual violence in conflict zones. â€“ Reuters