Breast implants linked to heightened risk of rare cancer

Women with breast implants have an increased risk of getting a rare type of lymphoma, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology.

But the overall chance of developing anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a cancer of the immune system cells, as a result of having a breast augmentation is relatively low.

The heightened risk sounds alarming at first — researchers found that those with implants are 421 times more likely to develop this specific cancer than those without implants — but the number of women who actually get the disease after getting implants is still small.

About one in every 35,000 women who has a breast enhancement will develop ALCL by age 50 — a very small number considering that only about 4% of women in the U.S. go under the knife for this procedure, according to the statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight.

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“Women should not panic,” the study’s lead author Daphne de Jong told Newsweek, “but they should be aware of it.”

Plus, the study was conducted in the Netherlands, where 45% of implants are textured, the authors said, and 82% of the women with this type of lymphoma had textured implants. Here in the U.S., a smoother, different type of implant is usually used.

ALCL is also very rare in general. Only about 4% of all diagnosed cancers in the U.S. are non-Hodgkin lymphomas, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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