Do Silicone Breast Implants Lower Your Risk for Developing Breast Cancer?

You must be thinking that there has to be a typo here. If anything, from all the news media palaver in the past, it is the opposite that must be true. Actually, this is the right question and it does have an unexpected answer.
Silicone breast implants have been subjected to more scrutiny and studies over the years than any other medical device. Several of these looked at any possible association of the long term presence of silicone breast implants with the development of breast cancer by evaluating large numbers of women over many years. The results were shocking but consistent: there is a statistically lower risk of developing breast cancer in women who have had these implants long term. This finding has been reconfirmed by many studies in diverse locations around the world.

The most recent research published in January 2009 in the International Journal of Cancer revealed the results of a epidemiological study of over 6200 Swedish and Danish women who had a mean duration of implantation of over 16.5 years with thirteen percent having them in excess of twenty five years. The findings identified a statistically significant reduction of risk of developing breast cancer of 27%. Previous studies conducted in the United States have shown decreased risks as high as 37 to 53%.

Why women with silicone breast implants have a lowered risk of developing breast cancer is unclear and has been the subject of much conjecture. However, this is fantastic news both for women who are considering a breast augmentation and those who already have silicone implants. When discussing breast enlargement with my patients, I try to put this all in perspective. I do not tell them that if they elect to have silicone breast implants, their risk for breast cancer may be decreased. Instead, I let them know that at a minimum there is no evidence that having silicone breast implants will increase their chances for developing breast cancer.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona