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The Angelina effect: Jolie's surgery sparks surge in cancer tests

Angelina Jolie's decision to make public her double mastectomy more than doubled the number of women in Britain seeking to have genetic breast cancer tests, according to a study released on Friday. Jolie, 39, announced her surgery in May last year, saying she acted after testing positive for a mutation of the BRCA1 gene that significantly increases the risk of breast cancer. She said she was

Angelina Jolie's decision to make public her double mastectomy more than doubled the number of women in Britain seeking to have genetic breast cancer tests, according to a study released on Friday.

Jolie, 39, announced her surgery in May last year, saying she acted after testing positive for a mutation of the BRCA1 gene that significantly increases the risk of breast cancer.

She said she was going public with news of her surgery as she hoped her story would inspire other women to fight the life-threatening disease.

Researchers studied 21 clinics and regional genetic centers and found there were 4,847 referrals for testing in June and July last year compared to 1,981 in the same period of 2012.

The study of the so-called "Angelina effect", published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, credited Jolie's glamorous appearance and relationship with Hollywood actor Brad Pitt for helping to lessen women's fears about surgery.

"Angelina Jolie ... is likely to have had a bigger impact than other celebrity announcements, possibly due to her image as glamorous and strong woman," researcher Gareth Evans of the charity Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention said in a statement.

"This may have lessened patients' fears about a loss of sexual identity post-preventative surgery and encouraged those who had not previously engaged with health services to consider genetic testing."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. The World Health Organization estimated that more than 521,000 women died of breast cancer in 2012.

The two actors (and their growing family) travel the world for worthy causes.