In some ethnic groups whose ancestors were geographically or culturally isolated, certain risky gene mutations have been found, which are referred to as 'founder mutations'. Because the population was isolated, the rate of these mutations in descendants is much higher than it would be if the population were larger and co-mingling with other people.
However, this does not mean that other mutations can not be present in these individuals. Unless a specific mutation has already been identified in your family, consider using a comprehensive test that includes all 30 risky genes. Here are some of the most common high risk groups.
Inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are common in people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent. These 'founder mutations' are 185delAG and 5382insC in BRCA1 and 6174delT in BRCA2 . One in forty Ashkenazi Jewish people are estimated to have a mutation in one or both BRCA genes. Learn more
The most famous risky gene carrier in this group is Angelina Jolie, who shared her own hereditary cancer prevention story after her French Canadian mother died of hereditary ovarian cancer. As of 2020, twenty specific variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 have been found to be common in the French Canadian founder population. Learn more
The Bahamas has the highest known prevalence of BRCA mutations among breast cancer patients of any country. In a recent study, 23% of women with breast cancer in the Bahamas were found to carry one of seven founder mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene Learn more
BRCA1 1675delA and 1135insA founder mutations account for one third of Norwegian familial breast and ovarian cancer.
In the Afrikaner population of South Africa (SA), three founder mutations in the BRCA genes have been identified. Learn more
Iceland has two founder mutations, one in BRCA1 and the other in BRCA2. The BRCA2 mutations has been found to be present in 0.8 percent of Icelandic people. Learn more
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