Angelina Jolie Pitt continues to be of interest because of her health choices. She announced today in the New York Times opinion section that she underwent a preventative surgery - specifically a bilateral oophorectomy – to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes because she carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. This gene gave Jolie Pitt a 50-percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. The actress/director/producer has much to fear because of this gene because she lost her mother (at the age of 49), grandmother, and an aunt to cancer. Jolie Pitt, who is 39, is nearing her mother’s age when she died so she decided to make choices that would help her be alive to see her kids become adults and to able to meet her grandkids.
So what exactly is ovarian cancer? This video provides a good overview:**Immediate Menopause** This surgery means that Jolie is now in surgical menopause.She no longer will have menstrual periods and her hormones will quickly drop. She also probably will be subject to strong menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, lower sexual desire, mood changes and vaginal dryness. In addition, because she went through early menopause, these symptoms can be more severe than in a woman who goes through the menopausal transition naturally.Jolie Pitt is working with her doctor to identify specific treatments to deal with these symptoms. She said that she is using a clear patch that contains bio-identical estrogen and also has a progesterone IUD inserted in her uterus. The doctors believe these therapies will help her maintain her hormonal balance and also protect her against uterine cancer. (Jolie Pitt decided to keep her uterus because her family history suggests that this organ is not at risk for cancer.)
Potential for Other Health Issues
Jolie Pitt also knows that she still has a risk of cancer and plans to use natural methods to strengthen her immunity system. She also needs to be aware that going into early menopause can increase her risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Therefore, this booklet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers some good advice on staying healthy for women who may be facing ovarian surgery.
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Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Jolie Pitt, A. (2015). Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a surgery. New York Times.
WomensHealth.gov. (2010). Early menopause (premature menopause)
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.