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As women, we’re often advised that one of the best ways to beat breast cancer is by preventing it from happening in the first place. For most of us, that usually means getting a mammogram yearly, but unfortunately, some women must go to extremes and that means undergoing a mastectomy to remove abnormal breast cells.

Earlier this year, Angelina Jolie made headlines when she announced that she would be undergoing a double mastectomy. The decision came after the Academy-winning actress learned that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer due to a rare breast-and-ovarian-cancer gene BRCA1, as well as a long family history of cancer.

Turns out, though, mastectomies might not be as effective as you think. According to new research published in the medical journal JAMA Oncology, women who underwent mastectomies and lumpectomies were just as likely to die from breast cancer as women who didn’t undergo these surgeries.

This surprising research was gathered over a 20-year-long period and the researchers closely examined the data of 100,000 women in a national cancer registry. In addition to mastectomies not being preventative against breast cancer, the study suggested that having abnormal breast cells doesn’t necessarily increase a woman’s risk of developing or succumbing to the illness.

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