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Breast Implants May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer Death by 38 Percent

Update Date: May 01, 2013 12:16 PM EDT

Because of the fashion for larger breasts, breast augmentation surgery is a fairly common procedure these days. In fact, one recent study found that 40,000 women had the surgery performed in 2011, a 56 percent increase over the number in 2007. Though women may like the new appearance of their physique after breast implants, a recent study indicates that there may be severe health ramifications. A study performed by researchers from the Université Laval, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the University of Toronto found that women with breast implants are significantly more likely to die from breast cancer than women without them.

According to the Independent, the research was based on two meta-analyses. The first analysis examined data from 12 studies on women with breast implants, which found that women with implants were 26 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease late. The second analysis was based on data from five studies, which found that breast implants increased the risk of death from breast cancer by 38 percent.

The researchers do not think that breast implants raises the risk of breast cancer, and point out that a wealth of studies have found no link between implants and breast cancer. However, they believe that the problem lies in many common screening measures like X-rays. The majority of implants are filled with a silicone or saline solution; that means that they block as much as four fifths of breast tissue. As a result, the implants mean that any tumors located in the breast cannot be seen.

However, the AFP notes that breast implants did not prevent women from finding tumors when performing self-examinations. In fact, the presence of implants may even help self-examinations, as they provide a base against which tumors can be felt.

The review was performed with a relatively small sample size, the Guardian reports. Regardless, the researchers say, "The accumulating evidence suggests that women with cosmetic breast implants who develop breast cancer have an increased risk of being diagnosed as having non-localized breast tumors [tumors that have spread and are more advanced which, in turn, means that they are more life-threatening] more frequently than do women with breast cancer who do not have implants."

The study was published in the journal BMJ.

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