Breast Implants Tied to Brain Cancer

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Women with silicone breast implants may suffer significantly higher rates of brain cancer and respiratory-tract diseases than normal, according to a study led by the National Cancer Institute. Medical experts found that women with implants had triple the risk of death from respiratory-tract diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia than other plastic surgery patients, possibly because of exposure to silicone.

Women with implants also had double the risk of dying from brain cancer than plastic surgery patients, a finding that surprised researchers. The study compared these two groups because they tend to come from the same economic and social back- grounds, therefore minimizing the chance that lifestyle was respon- sible for this deadly difference. On average, the women studied were in their mid-30s when they received the implants and all the women had their implants for at least eight years. The risk of death was even higher among women who had their implants 15 years or more.

The investigators note women with silicone breast implants report many mental changes such as memory loss that may potentially be indications of brain cancer. The researchers reported their find- ings in the May issue of the journal Epidemiology.