Wed Aug 8, 2007 7:10PM EDT
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Women who get cosmetic breast implants are
nearly three times as likely to commit suicide as other women, U.S.
researchers reported on Wednesday.
The study, published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, reinforces
several others that have shown women who have breast enlargements have
higher suicide risks.
Loren Lipworth of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in
Tennessee and colleagues followed up on 3,527 Swedish women who had
cosmetic breast implant surgery between 1965 and 1993. They looked at
death certificates to analyze causes of death among women with breast
Only 24 of the women had committed suicide after an average of 19
years, but this worked out to triple the risk compared to the average
population, they reported. Doctors who perform cosmetic breast surgery
may want to monitor patients closely or screen them for suicide risk,
“The increased risk of suicide was not apparent until 10 years after
implantation,” the researchers wrote.
Lipworth said she believes that some women who get implants may have
psychiatric problems to start with, perhaps linked with lower
self-esteem or body image disorders.
“I think we don’t even know how big of a problem it is because we
cannot even pinpoint what proportion of women have psychiatric
disorders,” Lipworth said in a telephone interview.
“There could be a whole lot of different disorders.”
Women with breast implants also had a tripled risk of death from
alcohol and drug use.
“Thus, at least 38 deaths (22 percent of all deaths) in this implant
cohort were associated with suicide, psychological disorders and/or
drug and alcohol abuse/dependence,” the researchers wrote.
NO RISE IN CANCER DEATH RISK
They found no increase in the risk of death from cancer, including
breast cancer. Women with implants were more likely to die from lung
cancer and respiratory diseases, such as emphysema, but this is
probably because they were more likely to smoke, the researchers said.
Last year, Canadian scientists also found a higher risk of suicide
among women who got breast implants, although they had lower rates of
other diseases, including cancer.
In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration okayed the sale of
silicone breast implants for the first time in 14 years, after years
of hearings on their safety.
The FDA said independent research over the past decade has found no
convincing evidence that breast implants were associated with
connective tissue diseases or cancer.
While silicone implants were banned, women could only use
saline-filled breast implants. Plastic surgeons say women prefer the
silicone ones, and Lipworth said most of the women in her study had
In 2006, 383,886 U.S. women had breast augmentation, according to the
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It was the second-most
common surgical cosmetic procedure, after liposuction.
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