Jews are at More Elevated Risk for Three Cancers

Jews are at an elevated risk for three cancers: melanoma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Ashkenazi Jews are even at higher risk—the genetic mutations which result in higher incidences of cancer are more concentrated among Ashkenazim.

To help prevent Melanoma, it is recommended to stay out of the sun and to get one’s skin screened once a year.

With regard to Breast Cancer, Professor Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Director of the Fuld Family Department of Genetics in Shaare Zedek Medical Center recommends that, “Every Ashkenazi Jewish woman should be tested for these mutations [referring to BRCA-1 and BRCA-2].”

Ovarian cancer, the most deadly of the three cancers, is linked to the two BRCA mutations. Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early and has a very high late-stage mortality rate and there is little we know about prevention. Professor Levy-Lahad shares, “The exciting thing is that we live in a genomic age, and we have unprecedented abilities to understand the causes of cancer…There’s a whole field that, if you become affected, can look at the genetic makeup of the tumor you have.”

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