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Breast Implants Not a Cancer Risk?

Study: Smoking, Lifestyles May Be Bigger Influences on Women's Cancer Risk
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 18, 2006 -- Cosmetic breast implants may not affect women's long-term cancercancer risk, a new study shows.

The finding comes from a study of more than 3,400 Swedish women who had gotten cosmetic breast implants between 1965 and 1993. The women were about 32 years old, on average, when they had gotten their implants.

The women were followed from 30 days after getting breast implants until they died, moved away from Sweden, or through 2002, whichever came first. The average follow-up period was about 18 years.

During that time, the study's participants had fewer than expected breast cancers when compared with the general Swedish female population. However, they had more than twice as many lung cancers as women in Sweden's general public. No other cancers (including lymphomalymphoma, sarcoma, brain cancer, and multiple myelomamultiple myeloma) stood out, the study shows.

The researchers included Joseph McLaughlin, PhD, of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md.

Smoking and Lung Cancer

The study doesn't show why any of the women with implants did -- or didn't -- get cancer. It's often hard for doctors to pinpoint cancer's cause, since a variety of factors (including genetics, exposure to cancer-causing agents, and lifestyle) may affect cancer risk.

But McLaughlin and colleagues have some ideas about what the data may mean.

For instance, smoking was more common among the women with implants that they studied, compared with women in Sweden's general public. Smoking has long been linked to lung cancer, though not all lung cancer patients are smokers and not all smokers have lung cancer.

An earlier study of a subgroup of the participants had shown that "women with implants were 2.8 times more likely to be current smokers than the general Swedish population," write McLaughlin and colleagues.

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