Women with cosmetic breast implants have significantly lower rates of subsequent breast cancer than the general population (relative risk, 0.63; 95 percent CI, 0.56 to 0.71). The authors hypothesize that breast implant-induced local inflammation stimulates immunosurveillance recognition of breast tumor antigen.
Sera were collected from two cohorts of healthy women: women with long-term breast implants (i.e., breast implants for >6 months) and breast implant-naive women. Antibody responses to breast tumor antigens were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and compared between cohorts by unpaired t test. Of the implant-naive cohort, nine women underwent breast augmentation, and antibody responses before and after implant placement were compared by paired t test.
Sera were collected from 104 women: 36 (34.6 percent) long-term breast implants and 68 (65.4 percent) implant-naive women. Women with long-term breast implants had higher antibody responses than implant-naive women to mammaglobin-A (optical density at 450 nm, 0.33 versus 0.22; p = 0.003) and mucin-1 (optical density at 450 nm, 0.42 versus 0.34; p = 0.02). There was no difference in antibody responses to breast cancer susceptibility gene 2, carcinoembryonic antigen, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, or tetanus. Nine women with longitudinal samples preoperatively and 1 month postoperatively demonstrated significantly elevated antibody responses following implant placement to mammaglobin-A (mean difference, 0.13; p = 0.0002) and mucin-1 (mean difference 0.08; p = 0.02). There was no difference in postimplant responses to other breast tumor antigens, or tetanus.
Women with long-term breast implants have higher antibody recognition of mammaglobin-A and mucin-1. This study provides the first evidence of implant-related immune responses to breast cancer antigens.
CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: