Breast Implants Do Not Raise Risk of Brain Cancer
By Alison McCook
Contrary to study results published in 2001, women who get breast implants do not appear to be at increased risk of brain cancer, according to new research.
In the latest study, U.S. investigators reviewed information on more than 10,000 women who received breast implants and were followed for up to 29 years. A total of 12 women developed brain cancer - a rate similar to that seen in the general population, the researchers found.
"There is no increase in brain cancer in women with breast implants,"
study author Dr. Loren Lipworth told Reuters Health.
In recent years, researchers have conducted numerous studies to investigate whether breast implants increase the risk of any type of cancer, Lipworth and her colleague write in the Annals of Plastic Surgery.
Although the great majority of reports showed no relationship between the cosmetic surgery and cancer, one 2001 study found that women with breast implants were more than twice as likely to die from brain cancer.
The findings were based on a review of the medical records and death certificates of 13,488 women who had received breast implants between 1960 and 1988. Half of the participants received silicone-gel implants, roughly one third of the women had double-lumen implants and 12 percent had saline-filled implants.
To explain the discrepancy between the results from the previous and the latest reports, Lipworth pointed out that brain cancer is often a result of cancer that originated in other parts of the body and spread to the brain. So while a patient may die from brain cancer, their disease may have begun in the lungs, explained Lipworth, who is based at the International Epidemiology Institute in Maryland and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
In contrast, studies that follow people over time and record new cases of cancer note where the disease began, Lipworth said. Consequently, for participants in those studies who received breast implants and developed brain cancer, "this is their first cancer," she noted.
Indeed, according to a review of four studies conducted in Scandinavia and the U.S. that followed women with breast implants over time, opting for the cosmetic surgery caused no increase in a woman's risk of brain cancer.
"Our results rule out any two-fold excess of brain cancer in any woman with breast implants," Lipworth said in an interview.
She added that none of the studies included women who received breast implants following a mastectomy for breast cancer.
SOURCE: Annals of Plastic Surgery, February 2004.
Thanks to Reuters Health
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