Triple suicide risk in women with breast implants

WOMEN who get cosmetic breast implants are nearly three times as likely to commit suicide as other women, research has found.

The study, published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, reinforces several others that have shown women who have breast enlargements have higher suicide risks.

The Irish cosmetic surgery industry has boomed in the past 10 years and is now worth more than €50 million.

Last year, plastic surgeons the Harley Medical Group said its business had grown by 200% in the previous 12 months and that it would be extending its opening hours to cope with demand.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Tennessee followed up on 3,527 Swedish women who had cosmetic breast implant surgery between 1965 and 1993. They looked at death certificates to analyse causes of death among women with breast implants.

Twenty-four of the women had committed suicide after an average of 19 years — a figure that is triple the risk of the average population.

In most cases, they said, the risk of suicide wasn’t apparent until 10 years after implantation.

This survey could make sobering reading for plastic surgery’s growing fan base in this country.

In the run-up to Christmas here last year, Advanced Cosmetic Surgery had a waiting list, as it had been booked out three months in advance.

Another provider, Cosmedico Cosmetic Surgery said the industry has grown by 726% in the past decade.

The American researchers concluded that doctors who perform cosmetic breast surgery may want to monitor patients closely or screen them for suicide risk.

Researcher Loren Lipworth said she believed some women that got implants may have psychiatric problems to start with, perhaps linked with lower self-esteem or body image disorders.

“I think we don’t even know how big of a problem it is because we cannot even pinpoint what proportion of women have psychiatric disorders,” said Dr Lipworth. “There could be a whole lot of different disorders.”

Women with breast implants also had a threetimes greater risk of death from alcohol and drug use.

“Twenty-two per cent of deaths in this implant cohort were associated with suicide, psychological disorders and/or drug and alcohol abuse or dependence,” the researchers wrote.

They found no increase in the risk of death from cancer, including breast cancer.

Women with implants were more likely to die from lung cancer and respiratory diseases, such as emphysema, but this is probably because they were more likely to smoke, researchers said.

Last year, Canadian scientists also found a higher risk of suicide among women who got breast implants, although they had lower rates of other diseases, including cancer.

In 2006 alone, 383,886 US women had breast augmentation.

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