Do breast implants prevent breast cancer?

It sounds hard to believe…but a new study published in the January issue of International Journal of Cancer found a 27% reduction in the number of breast cancers in women who have breast implants. The researchers compared the incidence rates of breast cancers in 6,200 Scandinavian women with breast implants, compared to the number of breast cancers that would be expected in the normal population. The women with implants had fewer breast cancers, over the 16 year time period of the study. The difference of 27% less in the implant group was statistically significant.

Is this a fluke? It could be. But this is not the first study to find this surprising finding.

In 1997, a study from Los Angeles published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed a similar finding, with a 37% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in a group of 3182 women with implants followed over a 14 year period.

In 1992, a report from Alberta, Canada, published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 53% decrease in the expected breast cancer incidence, over a 10 year follow-up period.

There are several other reports as well.

So why does this happen? Well, I don’t think it’s because that breast implants have some sort of special protective properties when it comes to breast cancer, although some investigators are looking into this possibility. It’s more likely that the women who get breast implants are drawn from a low-risk population. Most plastic surgeons, for example, wouldn’t put implants in a patient with a strong family history of breast cancer….but this only partially explains the findings of these studies. Further research is needed to come up with the full explanation.

It’s good to know, that at the very least, breast implants do not increase your risk of developing a breast cancer.

Another myth “busted” (no pun intended!)

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