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Breast implants, rheumatoid arthritis, and connective tissue diseases in a clinical practice

J A Goldman, J Greenblatt, R Joines, L White, B Aylward, S H Lamm
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 1995, 48 (4): 571-82
This study was designed to assess the relationship between breast implants and certain rheumatologic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and diffuse connective tissue diseases). The study base was a rheumatological practice in Atlanta, Georgia that started in 1982 and began computerizing its records in 1985. The computerized records through May 1992 included 4229 women patients, 150 with breast implants and 721 with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and/or one of the connective tissue diseases (CTDs). Of the 721 patients who had been diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and/or one of the connective tissue diseases (CTDs), 392 had rheumatoid arthritis, 344 had connective tissue disease, 15 had both rheumatoid arthritis and a connective tissue disease, and 33 had more than one connective tissue disease. Of the patients with connective tissue disease, 179 had systemic lupus erythematosus, 64 had scleroderma, 49 had Sjögren's syndrome, 36 had dermatomyositis or polymyositis, and 49 had mixed connective tissue disease. Data were analyzed by univariate and multivariate techniques including logistic regression. Significant variables included age at first visit, income strata, and period of first visit. Analyses were performed for each clinical diagnosis, for all connective tissue diseases together (CTDs), and for those with rheumatoid arthritis and/or connective tissue disease (RA/CTD). Analyses were performed on the total data base and on the records of new patients (1986-1992). The adjusted odds ratio for breast implants among women who entered the practice in 1986-1992 and were diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis and/or one of the connective tissue diseases (RA/CTDs) was 0.45 (0.22-0.90), for those with rheumatoid arthritis was 0.61 (0.28-1.49), for those with any of these specific diffuse connective tissue diseases was 0.34 (0.11-1.06) compared to those without the disease. For systemic lupus erythematosus, the odds ratio of 0.24 (0.03-1.75) was based on a single case who had the disease 5 yr before the implant. For Sjögren's syndrome, the odds ratio was 1.67 (0.39-7.13) based on two cases, one of whom had the disease 5 yr before the implant. The calculated odds ratios for scleroderma, dermatomyositis/polymyositis, and mixed connective tissue disease were zero since no cases were diagnosed among the patients with breast implants. This study found no evidence that women with breast implants are at an increased risk for having rheumatoid arthritis or other diffuse connective tissue disease.

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