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JAMA. 1996 Feb 28;275(8):616-21.

Self-reported breast implants and connective-tissue diseases in female health professionals. A retrospective cohort study.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02215-1204, USA.

Erratum in

  • JAMA 1998 Jan 21;279(3):198.



To evaluate the association of breast implants with connective-tissue diseases.


Retrospective cohort study of 395,543 female health professionals who completed mailed questionnaires for potential participation in the Women's Health Study. A total of 10,830 women reported breast implants and 11,805 reported connective-tissue diseases between 1962 and 1991. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used in analyses.


Self-reported connective-tissue diseases.


Compared with women who did not report breast implants, the relative risk (RR) of the combined end point of any connective-tissue disease among those who reported breast implants was 1.24 (95% confidence interval, 1.08 to 1.41, P = .0015). With respect to the individual diseases, the finding for other connective-tissue diseases (including mixed) was statistically significant (P = .017), the findings for rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, dermatomyositis or polymyositis, or scleroderma were of borderline statistical significance (.05 < P < .10), and the finding for systemic lupus erythematosus was not statistically significant (P = .44). There were no clear trends in RR with increasing duration of breast implants.


These self-reported data from female health professionals are compatible with prior reports from other cohort studies that exclude a large hazard, but do suggest small increased risks of connective-tissue diseases among women with breast implants. The very large sample size makes chance an unlikely explanation for the results, but bias due to differential overreporting of connective-tissue diseases or selective participation by affected women with breast implants remains a plausible alternative explanation. The major contribution of this and other observational analytic studies has been to exclude large risks of connective-tissue diseases following breast implants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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