December 2, 2014
Rock superstar Melissa Etheridge got a lot of flack for something she had said in an interview with AARP magazine.
Normally, Melissa is a symbol of strength and inspiration for advocates and survivors alike. However, a comment she had made in the interview has got survivors, advocates and health care professionals off their seats. You see, Melissa said that breast cancer genes can be turned off or on depending on the kind of food you eat.
“I have the BRCA2 gene but don’t encourage women to get tested. Genes can be turned on and off. I turned my gene on with my very poor diet.”
Now a lot of people think that Melissa is sadly misinformed and that because her popularity, a lot of women may think that what she said was the truth. Experts argue that although diet may play a role in increasing cancer risk, it is not the only factor. Genetic testing has also proven itself to be especially helpful to women who are in the “high-risk” category because knowing you have the mutation will encourage them to get tested more frequently than those who are considered low risk.
FORCE, a support group for BRCA positive women as well as The National Society of Genetic Counselors have issued letters to the magazine expressing their dissatisfaction with the story. A lot of survivors also feel that the comments made by Etheridge could be pointing fingers at the survivors themselves, blaming heir bad food choices for their suffering.
Melissa has released a statement saying that she had simply been misunderstood by readers and that she didn’t mean anything negative with the comment.
What do you guys think? Do you think Melissa or the magazine should have clarified the issue further?