Was Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy a Wise Move or a Panic Reaction?

by John Zajaros on May 14, 2013

Did the Doctor’s Go Too Far?

Because “she learned she carried the gene that makes it extremely likely!”?

What do you think?

I don’t know whether to applaud or cry, and for myriad reasons!

I cannot suppose to know what Ms. Angelina Jolie was thinking or feeling, and her concern for her children is laudable, especially when viewed in light of her mother’s death as a result of breast cancer.

That being said, I am afraid of the slippery slope we are now heading down with respect to genetic testing. No, not as it pertains to one, high-profile case. I’m talking about placing genetics, or any other science, in the place of absolute arbiter of truth!

Sadly, very few genetic scientists would use “extremely” and “likely” in the same sentence; and, fewer still, when dealing with, and possibly irrevocably influencing, such a profound decision.

Irrevocably influencing, and thus affecting, irrevocable change!

We can only wish Ms. Jolie, or anyone else embarking on such a drastic, proactive treatment path well; and, hope that in the future, such decisions are left out of the press and away from the public eye. I would also hope that doctors and scientists will take a very long pause before suggesting that anyone is both extremely and likely to suffer any sort of illness based solely on genetic testing.

Point of fact:

I could fill up page after page after page with examples from medical journals, examples of children born normal after doctors and geneticists (often one-in-the-same) stated as fact (extremely likely) that a child would be born with a certain affliction…only to be born perfectly healthy!

Had the parents listened to the doctors and geneticists who claimed that it was both “extremely” and “likely”….

My point is this:

  • Genetics is not yet an exact science…at least in the above-mentioned context.

In fact, as it pertains to science, generally…science is anything but:

  • Exact?
  • Extremely likely?
  • Certainty?

We still have a very long way to go. 

I wish Ms. Jolie and her family all the best going forward.

As I stated early on: 

I don’t know whether to applaud or cry, and for myriad reasons!

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