Are Breast Reductions Cancer Reducers, Too?

K. Mathews on 10 Oct 2011 at 3:30pm

Could plastic surgery help prevent breast cancer? Recent research seems to suggest that’s the case, finding that women who undergo breast reduction procedures are less likely to develop breast cancer, perhaps cutting the risk by 50 – 70%. While it’s premature to recommend that women downsize their busts, with 1 in 8 American women having breast cancer in their lifetimes, any news that may contribute toward decreasing this figure is welcome.

There is sometimes a misconception that plastic surgery on breasts may increase one’s cancer risk. Earlier this year, torrie1976 asked whether a breast reduction would increase her risk of breast cancer. The RealSelf doctors uniformly assured her that it would not, alluding to studies that suggest that the opposite is actually true.

breast reduction photos

Looking at the wealth of research, it’s hard to dismiss the validity. One study found a drop in breast cancer rates among women who have a family history of the disease after having a breast reduction.

Another finds that breast reductions later in life (after 40) are the most useful in cutting the likelihood of cancer.

It’s not just an American phenomenon, either: independent studies in Denmark, Sweden, and Canada are finding the same reduced risk. However, the Canadian study does note that breast reduction does not impact women’s breast cancer survival rate.

How, exactly, do breast reductions help prevent cancer? Thus far, the studies have only uncovered a correlation, not a specific cause and effect. But for many doctors, the answer seems pretty simple: “Less breast tissue means less tissue that can become cancerous,” says Chicago Plastic Surgeon Dr. Lawrence Iteld.

So while breast reductions by no means spells a guarantee of avoiding cancer, it might be something for high-risk women who are unwilling to have a double mastectomy to consider.

breast reconstruction photos


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