Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of ‘Prozac Nation,’ dies of breast cancer at age 52

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Author Elizabeth Wurtzel, best known for her memoir “Prozac Nation,” died at age 52 after a five-year fight with breast cancer, as first reported by The Washington Post.

Elizabeth Wurtzel. Wikimedia Commons

Wurtzel was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2015, which is caused by the BRCA genetic mutation. The same year, she underwent a double mastectomy.


Her blockbuster memoir, “Prozac Nation,” which came out in 1994 when she was 27 years old, detailed her struggles with anti-depressants and helped usher in an era of personal memoir writing.

Wurtzel later became an advocate for testing for the BRCA gene mutation and pushed for insurance companies to cover BRCA testing for all Ashkenazi Jewish women, regardless of whether or not they present cancer symptoms.

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“I caught it fast and I acted fast, but I must have looked away: By the time of my double mastectomy, the cancer had spread to five lymph nodes,” she wrote in The New York Times in 2015.

Wurtzel was born and raised in New York City in a Jewish family. She attended the Ramaz School, a Modern Orthodox day school in New York, before attending Harvard as an undergraduate and Yale Law School.


In December 2018, she wrote about how the man she thought was her father, Donald Wurtzel, was not. Her biological father was Bob Adelman, a photographer, with whom her mother had had an affair.

—JTA News and Features

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