Mutations in the tumor suppressor BRCA2 predominantly predispose to breast cancer. Paradoxically, while loss of BRCA2 promotes tumor formation, it also causes cell lethality, although how lethality is triggered is unclear. Here, we generate BRCA2 conditional non-transformed human mammary epithelial cell lines using CRISPR-Cas9. Cells are inviable upon BRCA2 loss, which leads to replication stress associated with under replication, causing mitotic abnormalities, 53BP1 nuclear body formation in the ensuing G1 phase, and G1 arrest. Unexpected from other systems, the role of BRCA2 in homologous recombination, but not in stalled replication fork protection, is primarily associated with supporting human mammary epithelial cell viability, and, moreover, preventing replication stress, a hallmark of pre-cancerous lesions. Thus, we uncover a DNA under replication-53BP1 nuclear body formation-G1 arrest axis as an unanticipated outcome of homologous recombination deficiency, which triggers cell lethality and, we propose, serves as a barrier that must be overcome for tumor formation.BRCA2 mutations promote tumour formation while also paradoxically causing cell lethality. Here the authors generate conditional BRCA2 loss in a non-transformed human mammary cell line and see increased replication stress due to under-replication of DNA.