Breast Enlargement and Reduction: Results from a Breast Cancer Case-Control Study

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Abstract

In a population-based case-control study of breast cancer that included 2174 cases and 2009 population controls under 55 years of age, prior breast implants were reported by 36 cases versus 44 controls. After adjustment for the matching factors as well as variables associated with both breast cancer risk and breast enlargement (race, family history of breast cancer, body size, screening history), the relative risk of breast cancer associated with a prior implant was 0.6 (95% CI 0.4-1.0). The reduced risk persisted with increasing interval since surgery, arguing against selection bias as an explanation. Further, although a deficit of in situ tumors was seen among women with implants (RR = 0.2), the risk associated with implants remained reduced for both localized and distant tumors (RR = 0.8 for both stages). In a smaller group of women who had prior breast reduction surgery (10 cases, 13 controls), a reduced risk of breast cancer also was observed (RR = 0.7, 95% CI 0.3-1.6). The results of this study must be interpreted cautiously because of the small number of women involved and reliance on patient reports of prior operations. In not showing any elevation in breast cancer risk following a breast implant, our results confirm several record linkage studies but contradict some clinical studies that suggest an adverse effect. Additional investigations are needed in relation to specific types of breast implants, including the polyurethane-coated implants, which have been linked to high cancer rates in laboratory animals. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 97: 269. 1996.)

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