JERUSALEM (JTA) — All women of Ashkenazi descent should be screened from age 30 for the BRCA gene mutation that causes breast cancer, an Israeli study recommends.
The study, by a research team headed by Ephrat Levy-Lahad of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, was published Friday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Until now, Ashkenazi women have been tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes only if a close blood relative had breast or ovarian cancer or were identified as carrying the gene.
The research was conducted on a random group of Jewish women of Ashkenazi origin who did not necessarily have a family history of the disease.
Many of the women identified during the study as being mutation carriers would not have known otherwise, according to the study. The mutation can be handed down to women through their fathers.