Breast Implants Could Cause a Rare Form of Cancer

There may be one more serious health risk associated with breast implants: a rare form of breast cancer, called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, or ALCL.  Although doctors say that there is no cause for alarm, women who are considering breast enhancement should also be aware of this new safety concern.  The disease arises in scar tissue around the implant, and is treatable.

Breast enhancement surgery remains the most popular cosmetic surgery in the country; even with the recession, when cosmetic surgery was, for obvious reasons, less popular, surgeries have risen by 36% over the past ten years.  Both silicone and saline implants are available, although few people choose saline because safety concerns over silicone have been alleviated after the FDA banned them pending future improvements in 1992.  The ban was lifted in 2006 but the FDA lists a host of other complications:

“The need for additional operations, pain, changes in nipple and breast sensation, capsular contracture (shrinkage of a lining of scar tissue that forms around the implant, causing pain and breast hardness), rupture, and, for silicone-gel implants, migration of silicone should a rupture occur. Implants can also make it more difficult to read mammograms.”

ALCL is just one more concern; the FDA says that the risk is fairly miniscule, and should not cause women who have implants to get them removed.  But it’s another reason to pause before getting cosmetic surgery, especially since many women will need more surgeries after their initial enhancement procedure.  This is despite the fact that Dr. Michael McGuire, former president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, claimed, “Breast implants are the most studied device in the history of medicine. When you look at the magnitude of the studies around the world, there is just about no evidence to support many of the fears that arose in the ’90s.”

There are clearly still health risks.  And although there’s no point in moralizing about whether women should or should not have such procedures, it’s clear that there are potentially serious consequences, which doctors should explain to their patients.  What’s most unfortunate is that women feel that they need to undergo such risks in order to change their bodies to fit our culture’s narrow conception of beauty.  It’s also ironic, given the amount of activism around breast cancer, that this hasn’t received more attention.

Photo from Flickr.


Past Member 3 years ago

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Jen Strait
Jen Strait7 years ago

Sometimes the care2 community surprises me with its compassion. Othertimes it surprises me with its judgementalness.

Jane R.
Jane R7 years ago

Kay L, surely you've heard of breast reduction? Overly large breasts cause back pain and truely do not look attractive. Breasts should be proportionate to body size.

Rose N.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Alex H.
Alex H7 years ago

It seems to me and unsurprisingly,that the FDA,as usual,is siding with the hugely profitable vested interests which make millions of dollars out of pandering to the seriously uninformed women who allow themselves to be "disfigured".When foreign objects are inserted into the breast tissue area,they interfere with and block the natural lymph drainage channels,that are crucial in helping to remove toxins and chemical accumulations in those areas.Tight and underwire bras worn for more than twelve hours a day,and/or slept in,have the same effect.So it is not surprising that so many women are ending up with breast lumps and tumours.Why are doctors and specialists ignoring the research which came out with these findings nearly 20 years ago??!!Anyone would think that breast cancer and surgery were a HUGE INDUSTRY??!!There is no profit in preventing disease and ill-health.The fact that government regulatory bodies routinely mislead the public so that profits can continue to be made,is an absolute unethical scandal.My advice is to thoroughly investigate before any surgical procedure.There may well be alternatives which your doctor doesn't know about (they are not gods!)or doesn't want to know about!

Ann P.
A P7 years ago

Medically unnecessary foreign objects surgically inserted into the body might have negative effects? SHOCKING!!!

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS7 years ago

As someone with an over-abundance, my chest and back muscles can't understand why anyone would want bigger breasts....

Manuela C.
Manuela C7 years ago

You should be happy with what you have!

Dean P.
Dean P7 years ago

Then don't market them! Can't understand the chances people take with their life...Life to short to be stuck on stupid for the most part!

Megan S.
Megan S7 years ago

What's so wrong with letting yourself be the way you were born?
Why do so many get plastic surgery just because they're vain?
Why do so many women and girls wear make-up and shave?
What's the point of it?...