'Angelina effect' on cancer tests

Angelina Jolie

Referrals for genetic breast cancer tests more than doubled in the UK as a result of what doctors have dubbed the "Angelina effect".

In May last year, actress Angelina Jolie revealed to the world that she had undergone a double mastectomy to prevent her getting breast cancer.

She took the decision after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation that greatly increases the risk of developing the disease.

A new study has now measured the impact her surprise announcement made on women in the UK.

It shows that in June and July last year the number of GP referrals for genetic counselling and DNA tests for breast cancer mutations increased two and a half times compared with the same period in 2012.

The effect was long-lasting, with referrals remaining at twice the previous year's figure from August to October.

But the extra women seeking help were not worried about nothing - most had a family history of breast cancer, meaning they were being appropriately screened.