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Kallah Teachers, BRCA Genes, and a Tweak that Could Save Lives

Ten years ago, an article suggested a modification to the Kallah teacher curriculum regarding cancer screening, particularly for harmful BRCA gene mutations prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Recent advancements allow testing for these mutations, which significantly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Breast cancer disproportionately affects Ashkenazi Jewish women, with 1 in 40 carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Early detection is crucial, and kallah teachers are proposed to recommend testing by age 25 or after the first child’s first birthday. If positive, a second recommendation is bilateral oophorectomy surgery at age 35, significantly reducing cancer risks.

While the procedures may raise halachic questions, considering the proven benefits in preventing cancer deaths, the recommendations aim to promote preventive measures in the community. Raising awareness and gaining approval from rabbinical authorities can play a vital role in implementing these potentially life-saving practices within the Jewish community.

 

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