Breast implants again linked to suicide risk
The reason for the suicide risk is unclear, but several studies have
now come to similar conclusions. Some researchers believe the link is
explained by higher rates of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem
among women who undergo breast augmentation.
Supporting that theory, one recent study found that women who
received cosmetic breast implants were more likely to have a history of
psychiatric hospitalization than those who underwent other types of
Based on such findings, some experts have
recommended that women be screened for past and present psychiatric
disorders before they receive breast implants.
The current study, published in the journal Epidemiology,
included 12,144 U.S. women who'd received breast implants between 1960
and 1988, and 3,614 women who'd undergone other types of cosmetic
surgery during the same period. Researchers compared the two groups'
rates of death from various causes over an average of 20 years; the
rates in each group were also compared with statistics for women in the
Overall, the study found, women who'd received implants had a
lower risk of death from most causes when compared with the general
population.That included a lower risk of dying from breast cancer,
a disease that has been a concern among breast implant recipients.
Though research has failed to show that the implants contribute to
breast cancer development, there is evidence that implants can
interfere with mammography screening for breast tumors.
In this study, however, women with implants were only half as
likely as those in the general population to die of breast cancer,
according to the researchers, led by Dr. Louise A. Brinton of the
National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.
received implants did, however, have a higher-than-average risk of
suicide. And they were more than twice as likely as women who'd had
other cosmetic procedures to take their own lives.
Between the two surgery groups, implant recipients were also
more likely to die of respiratory cancer or brain cancer. However, few
women in either group died of a brain tumor, and it's not clear that
there's a cause-and-effect relationship between breast implants and
either form of cancer, according to Brinton and her colleagues. The
elevated suicide risk, however, "remains of concern," the researchers
In an unexpected finding, they note, women with implants were
also more likely than those who'd had other cosmetic procedures to die
in a car accident. Coupled with the suicide findings, Brinton and her
colleagues write, this suggests that some of those traffic deaths were