ANGELINA Jolie made headlines earlier this year when the celebrity announced she carries the gene that greatly increased her risk of breast cancer and had a preventive double mastectomy.
Jolie's mother had breast cancer and died of ovarian cancer, and her grandmother also died of ovarian cancer.
In Winnipeg, an estimated 6,500 women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are more at risk to be carrying the gene, said Rabbi Shmuly Altein with the Jewish Learning Institute.
Tonight, a workshop at the institute is trying to get the word out about the cancer-causing gene and what preventive measures can be taken.
Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer of between 45 and 87 per cent and a 20 to 40 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer in their 30s. The chances of carrying the gene mutation is 10 times greater if you're of Ashkenazi or European Jewish descent.
"Statistics like these are leaving women in the Jewish community with some tough decisions to make," Altein said in a press release.
"Having to face decisions of such complexity has led many women to avoid addressing the issue altogether. But with mortality rates so high, this is hardly a problem the Jewish community can afford to ignore."
Dr. Bernie Chodirker, a medical geneticist and professor in the department of biochemistry and medical genetics at Health Sciences Centre, will be one of the presenters.
The workshop will consider different voices from the medical community as well as the perspective of Jewish law to help people at the workshop make an informed decision with their doctor and geneticist, Altein said.
It starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Chabad-Lubavitch of Winnipeg.
For more information: 204-339-8737 www.ChabadWinnipeg.org