New Research Links Breast Augmentation to Breast Cancer Deaths

By Diana Zuckerman, PhD
May 2013

Women with cosmetic breast implants are more likely to die of breast cancer, according to new research published in the prestigious British Medical Journal. Combining research from 5 different studies, Dr. Eric Lavigne and his colleagues report that compared to other women with breast cancer, women who had breast augmentation surgery before they were diagnosed with breast cancer were 38% more likely to die from the disease. The authors explain that the implants interfere with mammography and by the time the cancer is diagnosed, it is often too late to cure.

In a separate analysis combining 12 studies, the same researchers found that women with breast augmentation who were later diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to be diagnosed after the cancer had spread. However, the difference in death rates was more significant than the difference in the stage of diagnosis.

In studies funded by breast implant companies, researchers have claimed that breast implants are safe. This independent research is similar to other studies showing that breast implants show up as a large white shape on mammograms, hiding any cancerous tumors that are underneath.

For more information about the study, see a summary of the research in MedScape at or read the official summary at

Lavigne, E, Holowaty, E, Pan, SY et al, Breast Cancer Detection and Survival Among Women with Cosmetic Breast Implants, BMJ, April 30, 2013.