Plastic Surgery: Is There a Link Between Breast Implants and Cancer?

Breast implants may help enhance a woman's confidence and self-image. This may explain why breast augmentation or breast enhancement surgery has become increasingly popular over the decades.

Nearly 2 million women underwent breast augmentation surgery since the option became available in the plastic surgery market in the early 1960s. But the question remains: do breast implants pose a higher risk of breast cancer?

According to a recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, no. Breast implants are not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The study, similar to others, suggests that women with breast implants are actually less likely to get breast cancer than women without implants. So is there a downside?

Breast Implants Studies
Researchers have found that breast implants do more than help women become comfortable with their bodies. Women who have breast implants tend to be more health-conscious, plan more pregnancies, and have children earlier in life. All these factors, according to many researchers, help decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Yes, that's right. Breast implants are more than image boosters. They can also add a dose of happiness and increase the overall sense of well-being in an individual. But, keep in mind, happiness like beauty comes from the soul. While breast implants may aid in a healthy lifestyle for some, they on their own don't take the 'un' out of unhealthy habits.

What researchers did find is that the detection of breast cancer took longer in women with implants than in women without implants, and that self breast examinations as well as mammography was more difficult to perform in women with breast implants. This finding is important because the earlier the diagnosis of breast cancer, the more successful the treatment. In fact, if breast cancer is diagnosed and treated in its first stage, 90% to 95% of the patients are said to be cured within 10 years.

Other NCI Findings About Breast Implants
The study found that women who underwent breast implant surgery may be more likely to develop lung cancer. However, the link between lung cancer and breast implants may be explained by the smoking habits and lifestyle of the women who took part in the NCI study rather than by the breast implants themselves.

Since no other significant increase in the risk of any cancer was found in women with breast implants, it may be safe to say that implants don't directly increase your risks of developing cancers. That said, what other issues should women planning to get implants be aware of?

Deciding to Get Breast Implants
Women deciding to undergo breast implant surgery need to be aware of the number of choices they face. This includes issues such as choosing the plastic surgeon, the hospital, the type of implant, and the risks associated with breast surgery.

Types of Breast Implants
Common types of breast implants include saline and silicone implants. Saline implants consist mainly of salt-water, whereas the silicone implants contain a gel-like substance. Both types have their own risks and benefits.

The major concern of silicone implants is leakage of gel if they rupture, whereas salt-water is considered fairly harmless if saline breast implants rupture.

The major benefit of silicone implants, however, is that they look more natural and are suitable for women who don't have a lot of soft breast tissue.

Background Information on Silicone Implants
Silicone implants received a lot of scrutiny in the early 1990s. Some women claimed that the implants led to connective tissue disorders and other related illness. In 1992, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) banned the silicone implants due to safety concerns. However, in November 2006, the FDA re-approved the procedure because they did not find any link between the use of silicone implants and breast cancer.

Other Risks of Breast Implants
Although, both the FDA and NCI report that breast implants are safe and carry no extra risk of cancer, women should be aware of some known risks associated with the surgery. These risks include influencing the ability to breastfeed, affecting the safety of breast milk, the possibility of a gel leak and the risk of suicide among women with breast implants.

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