Ashkenazi Jews and the BRCA Gene

24 May 2017

More than 20 years have passed since scientists discovered that faults in two key genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – significantly increased the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Since then, huge advances have been made in our understanding of these mutations and how drugs designed to target them can help to prevent and treat cancer.

People with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer can now be tested for the faults, and if found to have one of the two mutations they can be closely monitored for signs of cancer or opt for surgery to remove their breasts or ovaries as a preventative measure.

We now know that approximately 1 in 800 people have a fault in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. But the genetic faults are much more common in people who have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, with 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews believed to have BRCA mutations.

BRCA Journey is an organisation formed by a group of people in Leeds who have personal experience or professional interest in hereditary cancer risk, particularly in the Jewish community.

They have produced this information leaflet to help raise awareness of BRCA gene mutations and support those who may be affected.

If you would like to contact BRCA Journey directly, please email:

Watch the video for more info:


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