Do You Need A BRCA Test?

What is BRCA testing?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutation of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and the risks of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have been inherited.

Both men and women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of other types of cancer.

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Genetic tests are available to check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. A blood sample is required for these tests, and genetic counseling is recommended before and after the tests.

According to, people with the below types of family medical histories can benefit the most from BRCA testing:

  • Two first-degree relatives (mother, daughter or sister) were diagnosed with breast cancer, one of whom was diagnosed at age 50 or younger;
  • Three or more first-degree or second-degree (grandmother or aunt) relatives were diagnosed with breast cancer regardless of their age at diagnosis;
  • A combination of first- and second-degree relatives were diagnosed with breast cancer and ovarian cancer (one cancer type per person);
  • A first-degree relative with cancer was diagnosed in both breasts ( bilateral breast cancer);
  • A combination of two or more first- or second-degree relatives were diagnosed with ovarian cancer regardless of age at diagnosis;
  • A first- or second-degree relative was diagnosed with both breast and ovarian cancer regardless of age at diagnosis; and breast cancer was diagnosed in a male relative.

How Likely Is It That I’ll Test Positive For The Mutation?

In all, between 0.125 and 0.25 percent of women will test positive for the BRCA mutation, and it varies by ethnicity. These women have an increased risk of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Men carry the BRCA mutation, too, so if a woman with a mutation has a son, he has a 50 percent chance of being a carrier and having the mutation. Men with the mutation face increased risks of breast cancer, certain kinds of pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.

What Happens If I Test Positive?

If you do test positive for BRCA, you have options, depending on your age, fertility, medical health and the cost. Many choose surgery, but it’s isn’t the only option. Some opt for cancer surveillance, such as mammograms and regular pelvic sonograms and blood-tests to watch for ovarian cancer. Monitoring, of course, does not reduce risk, but rather potentially improves early detection of cancer.

Other options include chemo-prevention, or taking certain medications to reduce cancer risk. For example, some women take a drug called tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer and others take birth-control pills to prevent ovarian cancer.

Because these decisions are sometimes very difficult ones to make, patients can seek consultations with oncologists, general gynecologists, gynecologic oncologists, breast surgeons and reconstructive plastic surgeons.

3 Grilling Tips For Perfect Meat & Vegetables

Ground beef burgers on a grillHere’s how to grill healthy food…

For many people, summer season is also grilling season. But for your next cookout, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics mentions these barbecue safety suggestions:

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• Buy two sets of grilling tools (one for raw meat and one for cooked meat), as well as a meat thermometer to make sure your food is thoroughly cooked.
• Grill lean meats to avoid flame flares caused by fat drippings.
• Don’t allow your food to become charred. Some studies suggest charred meat may be linked to cancer. Let your meat marinate for a few hours before cooking to help reduce the chances of charring.

For Grilling Veggies
Oil Them Up
Vegetables dry out when they hit the heat without a little oil. Before they hit the grill, toss them with a light coating of oil. Don’t use too much—it not only adds unnecessary calories, but dripping oil causes flare-ups and off flavors. Plus tossing them in oil helps your seasoning stick more uniformly.

Size Matters
How you prep your vegetables dictates how they will cook. Cut them into smaller pieces if you want your vegetables to cook more quickly (and use a skewer to keep the on the grill). Cut round vegetables like onions or eggplant into thin “rounds”—you’ll get more surface area, which allows for a crispier outside, and because they’re thin, they’ll cook quickly.

For Grilling Meats
Beat The Heat

Remember, the flame or the amount of heat is everything for meat. Make sure your heat is evenly distributed around the area of where you are grilling the meat. I like to have a certain section on the grill that is cooler, only slightly warm, so that I can place that meat to finish cooking. Everywhere else should be hot.

Don’t Flip Out
Many grillers make a mistake by flipping your meat too many times. Remember for:
burgers – flip once
Steaks – flip multiple times throughout cooking
Chicken – a few times
Salmon – only once right before its done just to get grill marks

Additionally, there are two carcinogens that you should be aware of: