I try very hard not to make judgements about people’s medical decisions or beliefs. That’s why I haven’t said anything on my blog about Melissa Etheridge’s opinion on prophylactic mastectomies. Etheridge is BRCA2 positive and a breast cancer survivor. She made headlines in 2013 when she said (re: Angelina Jolie’s medical choice):
“I have to say I feel a little differently. I have that gene mutation too, and it’s not something I would believe in for myself. I wouldn’t call it the brave choice. I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer.”
Although I completely disagree with Ms. Etheridge on this issue, she is entitled to her opinion. But now I’m pretty angry with her latest comments. Not so much at Melissa Etheridge, but at AARP. AARP recently ran a photospread featuring breast cancer survivors Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow. In the photo, Etheridge is quoted as saying:
“I have the BRCA2 gene but don’t encourage women to get tested. Genes can be turned on or off. I turned my gene on with a very poor diet.”
How could AARP run such nonsense in their widely read magazine? This is completely inaccurate medical/scientific information. Melissa Etheridge is not a medical professional and AARP should not be running comments like this from her as if they are fact. Yes, a healthy diet and active lifestyle can lower breast cancer risk (regardless of genetics), but there is no way to turn the BRCA mutation on or off. If someone does find evidence-based, peer-reviewed literature saying that there is a way to turn the BRCA gene on/off, please send it my way.
I sincerely hope AARP runs an apology or clarification in their next issue to clear up this myth they have now publicized as fact.
photo source: AARP