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Study links breast implants to suicide risk

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Women who opt for breast implants to enhance their natural assets are more likely to commit suicide, Dutch and Swedish scientists said Thursday.


Breast enlargement is one of the most popular types of cosmetic surgery, but researchers at the Netherland's University Medical Center in Utrecht believe it could be linked to problems such as lack of self-esteem or poor body image.

"Our findings suggest there might be a psychological problem in some women," said Veronica Koot, an epidemiologist at the center.

In a study of 3,521 women in Sweden who had breast augmentation surgery for cosmetic reasons between 1965 and 1993, Koot and her colleagues found a higher than expected suicide rate after an average 11-year follow-up.

Women who had implants following surgery for breast cancer were not included in the study.

Fifteen women in the research group committed suicide, three times more than expected in the general population. The researchers also found an excess number of lung cancer deaths, mostly likely due to smoking.

"It is a high rate of suicide compared to the general population," she said.

The scientists suggested that cosmetic surgeons should evaluate women who want breast enlargement for any signs of psychological problems.

"If women have a psychological problem and they are given breast implants they will still have that problem," said Koot, who reported the finding in the British Medical Journal.

After liposuction, breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure for women in Britain and the United States.

Nearly 250,000 women in the United States had their breasts enlarged in 2002, a substantial increase since 1997. Eyelid surgery, breast reduction and nose reshaping were also popular procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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