Angelina Jolie's Plan to Have Her Ovaries Removed Is More Controversial Than It Seems

Maressa Brown Health Check

angelina jolie cover of peopleAngelina Jolie's story of her decision to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy has captured the attention of the entire country, and she's being applauded for her bravery and candor. Most would agree it seems as though she's been through enough, but there's another challenge ahead ... People reports she is also planning to undergo surgery to remove her ovaries.

She's made the difficult decision for the same reason she chose to have her breast surgery: As she's a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, her doctors say she still faces a high risk of developing ovarian cancer, which her doctors estimate at 50 percent.

And yet, as brave and wise and inspiring as her decision appears to be, it's also a controversial one.

Doctors like Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, explain that these kinds of statistics -- "you have 50 percent chance of developing this illness" or "87 percent of that one" -- is called "medical hexing." That's when a doc gives patients a poor prognosis and then they have negative outcomes. Dr. Rankin asks, "Do we really want to poison our minds with such fear-based thoughts that then force us to make decisions about whether or not we will electively cut off perfectly healthy body parts?" What's more, she notes, "Few diseases result from a single gene mutation. Only about 5 percent of cancer patients can attribute their diseases to heredity."

That said, as Dr. Rankin says, and I couldn't agree more, that Angelina still deserves a lot of credit for trusting her intuition, going with her gut, making a medical decision -- or "writing The Prescription" -- that she felt was right for her.

One of my biggest gripes with conventional docs in general is that they are all too often second guessing the patient, telling us what to do instead of the other way around when we are the ones who know our bodies the best. Her mother, Marcheline, lost her life way too young to ovarian cancer. Who could blame Angelina for being afraid of following in her footsteps?

While it's unclear when Angie will actually undergo the procedure, some doctors recommend patients have it by age 40 or when a woman is done having children ... That's because getting pregnant after an oophorectomy is medically impossible. Of course, there's always IVF with a donor egg, surrogacy, or adoption, but I'd venture to say it's doubtful Brangelina will have any more kids of their own. Hey, at least that means no more tabloid tongue-wagging about how she's pregnant again! Then again, stopping at six seems like a wise choice anyway.

What's your take on Angelina's elective surgeries?


Image via People

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