BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Their function is to help repair damage to the DNA and to help keep the cells of the breast developing normally. When these genes are damaged or mutated, they fail to work properly and this can lead to more rapid accumulation of DNA damage over a person’s lifetime and this can increase their overall risk of breast cancer development.
When BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes fail to function properly
Women who carry the BRCA mutations are told that they have an 87% increased lifetime risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer over the general population of women, but the actual percentage of breast cancer cases that are due to BRCA1 mutations are estimated to be only 3.5 – 6.2%, and 2.1 – 3.4 % for BRCA2 mutations.
It should also be noted that the research and studies that are related to BRCA1 and BRCA2 statistics have been done by the company who owns the patent on the genes and they do not allow other scientist to perform studies with these genes. The website of the National Cancer Institute reported this about the increase in cancers that are related to the defect in the BRCA gene: “the studies have been done on large families with many individuals affected by cancer. Estimates of breast and ovarian cancer risk associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have been calculated from studies of these families. Because family members share a proportion of their genes, and often similar environments, it is possible that the large number of cancer cases seen in these families may be due in part to other genetic or environmental factors. Therefore, risk estimates that are based on families with many affected members may not accurately reflect the levels of risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers in the general population. In addition, no data is available from long-term studies of the general population comparing cancer risk in women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations with those who do not have such mutations. Therefore the percentages given above are estimates that may change as more data become available.” Link to the article at the National Cancer Institute.
Millions of women may carry have defective BRCA genes, yet they will never get breast cancer because they follow a healthy lifestyle that includes optimal nutrition, exercise, sensible sunlight exposure, and avoidance of cancer-causing chemicals. You can read more about a healthy diet and lifestyle tips with this post.
Radiation exposure and gene mutations
It should be noted that women who carry the breast cancer gene mutation are more susceptible to damage caused by the radiation from mammograms as they lack the natural gene repairing mechanism, yet they are being told that they need to have mammography screening more often, which only leads to more damage to the tissues. This information is contrary to conventional assurances that radiation exposure from mammography is trivial and is similar to having a chest X-ray, or about 1/ 1,000 of a rad (radiation-absorbed dose), but the routine practice of taking four films for each breast results is about 1,000-fold greater exposure. One rad, focused specifically on each breast rather than the entire chest, exposes pre-menopausal women to a total of about 10 rads for each breast when they are screened over a ten year period. Present day radiation risk models that are used to assess the known breast cancer risk associated with mammography against the purported benefits do not take this information into account. Appropriate screening methods should instead include thermography and/or ultrasound.
Selenium and BRCA mutations
Studies have shown that supplementing with 200- 275 mcg of selenium every day can help to reverse the risk factors of being BRCA1 positive. “Oral selenium is a good candidate for chemo-prevention in women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It is absolutely amazing that taking 200 mcg of selenium can completely reverse the negative risk of carrying the BRCA defect without the need for radical mastectomies, or other extreme measures that seem to be in the news as of late, and yet this very simple measure is not being shared with women.” Link to the study.
Selenium supplementation for other cancers
A daily intake of 200 mcg Selenium produces an effective protection against the development of cancer. . The same dosage reduced colon and rectal cancer by 69%, prostate cancer risks were reduced by 54%, and even lung cancer risks were reduced by 39% for the trial that included smokers. Selenium disrupts the carcinogenic process and helps prevent tumors from forming. It inhibits DNA mutations and also functions as an antioxidant.
A daily dose of selenium will mitigate the risk of BRCA mutations, putting a woman who carries the gene on a level playing field with those who do not carry the defective gene.
Read more from this breast cancer series