Barbara Sofer

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Barbara Sofer

Award-winning writer and lecturer Barbara Sofer grew up in a small town in Connecticut, and moved to Israel in 1971. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her articles -taking on a wide range of subjects from ethnic cooking to terrorism--have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Parents, Readers' Digest, Woman's Day, Hadassah Magazine and Inside Magazine among many others. She writes a bi-weekly column for the Friday Jerusalem Post.

Barbara has written five books and contributed to several others


Jerusalem Post

The Human Spirit: BRCA on my mind  

By Barbara Sofer

The testing for BRCA, a simple blood test, was the easy part; contemplating the result had huge ramifications. About a decade ago, I was moping over the death of my cousin Ellen Schwartz, who at age 49 had lost a battle to breast and ovarian cancer. I was at a table for an awards ceremony at Hadassah University Medical Center, and I happened to be sitting next to Dr. Tamar Peretz, who is an expert on breast cancer and who has spent most of her career taking care of Jewish women. When I mentioned Ellen, Peretz advised me that I needed to be tested for a mutation on my BRCA gene.

I’m not a health writer, and this isn’t a health column. But recent recommendations by University of Washington scientist Mary-Claire King, a pioneer in the field of BRCA gene study, that regardless of family history, 30-year old women – particularly Ashkenazi Jewish women – be tested for BRCA mutations have me worried.

Almost since the discovery of the link between the BRCA mutations and breast and ovarian cancer, researchers have focused their study on us Ashkenazi Jewish women.

How did this happen? Not – as you might suspect – because oncologists noticed higher rates of breast cancer among Jews.

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