Actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo breast removal to reduce her risk of breast cancer has led other women to do so, a new study shows.
The findings show that celebrities can influence the health care decisions of the general public, said study author Art Sedrakyan, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
In early 2013, Jolie announced her decision to have the preventive surgery to have both breasts removed due to her elevated genetic risk for breast cancer.
Researchers sought to determine the impact of that news by analyzing 2004-2014 data on risk-reducing mastectomy in New York State and New South Wales in Australia.
In New York, they found the number of women undergoing the procedure nearly doubled — rising from 3.3 bimonthly cases per 1 million 20 months before Jolie’s announcement to 6.3 cases per 1 million 20 months after her announcement.
The findings were similar in New South Wales, according to the study. The results were published Sept. 25 in the journal Health Services Research.
“This is an important area of research that health care providers and policymakers need to pay attention to,” Sedrakyan said in a Weill Cornell news release.
“If celebrities are going to act on genetic testing and announce their treatment choices, then we should get prepared on our end to assess public health impact,” he added.
A 2015 study also found an increase in preventive mastectomy after Jolie’s announcement. And previous studies showed that breast imaging among women aged 25 to 44 rose after Australian singer Kylie Minogue’s 2005 breast cancer diagnosis.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on surgery to reduce breast cancer risk.