Back in May 2013, Angelina Jolie wrote a powerful op-ed for the New York Times about her decision to get a double mastectomy, which she made after testing positive for a faulty BRCA1 gene (which put her at an at an 87 percent risk for developing breast cancer and 50 percent risk for developingovarian cancer). Chances are, you already knew that, though: According to a new study, three out of four Americans are aware of Jolie's double mastectomy. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be translating into any increased knowledge about breast cancer, though: Awareness of Jolie's double mastectomy isn't associated with a better understanding of breast cancer risk.
For the study, researchers surveyed 2,572 adults, asking them several questions about Angelina Jolie's story, as well as other questions related to breast cancer. Of the respondents who knew about Jolie's double mastectomy, 47 percent correctly estimated her risk of breast cancer within a reasonable range (80-90 percent)—but of those people, just 8.9 percent knew how that compared to a woman who didn't have a mutated BRCA gene. For the people who didn't accurately remember Jolie's personal risk of breast cancer, that number drops to 7.9 percent—so not a huge difference.
The bottom line? When celebs speak out on health issues, it definitely raises awareness about them—but it doesn't necessarily spread a lot of helpful knowledge. To boost your breast cancer IQ and get a basic understanding of your risk, as well as the best prevention strategies, check out our breast cancer FAQs.