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Author, Journalist Takes Look At Mutated Genes

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John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Maybe timing is everything.

A Russian-American journalist who wrote a ground-breaking book on the breast-cancer gene mutation that afflicted Angelina Jolie now finds herself back on the talk show circuit.

Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene came out in 2009. It was an outgrowth of author Masha Gessen’s own battle with the same breast cancer BRCA1 gene mutation.

She too took the double mastectomy route and then put on her journalist hat.

“That made it a lot easier to get people to talk to me. It also made it easier for me to get through to the information and sort of process it, so I ended up writing, first, a series of articles for Slate on my decision-making process and then turning it into a book that went much broader than the breast cancer issue,” says Gessen.

For example, Gessen looked at:

Huntingdon’s disease, in which to have the mutated gene is to be doomed to get the degenerative ailment – so do you even want to know?

Or testing while pregnant for suspect genes in the unborn – once you know, what do you do?

Gessen says the BRCA1 mutation itself is not as worrisome as the mutation coupled with a family history of breast cancer.

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