Cosmetic breast implants do not seem to increase the risk of cancer, according to the results of a population-based study with more than 15 years of follow-up. A slightly elevated risk of lung cancer was noted in implant recipients, but the authors believe this simply reflects higher smoking rates in this group.
Findings from epidemiologic studies have consistently supported the oncologic safety of cosmetic breast implants, but few of the studies involved follow-up beyond 15 years, lead author Dr. Joseph K. McLaughlin, from the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues note.
"Our investigation provides data on the longest large-scale follow-up of women with cosmetic breast implants to date," the researchers point out.
The study featured 3486 Swedish women who underwent cosmetic breast implantation between 1965 and 1993 and then were followed through 2002. The risk of cancer in this group was compared with that in the general population.
During a mean follow-up period of 18.4 years, the breast cancer rate in the implant group was lower than expected, whereas the lung cancer rate was higher, the report indicates. The corresponding standardized incidence ratios were 0.7 and 2.2.
Cosmetic breast implants were not associated with an elevated risk of other malignancies, including brain cancer, a finding in one previous study.
"The results of our study are generally consistent with those of earlier epidemiologic studies and independent reviews in demonstrating no increased risk for breast or other cancers among women with cosmetic breast implants, with the exception of an observed excess of lung cancer, which would be expected due to the much higher prevalence of smoking among the Swedish women with implants," the authors conclude.