Women's health * Healthy living * Quit smoking * Sexual health

Nipple piercing linked to breast abscesses

Nipple piercing linked to breast abscesses Smoking also a risk factor

The piercing of intimate body parts has been popular in recent years, with little attention paid to the long term health risks involved. Now a new study has found that nipple piercing is a risk factor for the development of breast abscesses.

Smoking was also found to be a significant risk factor for both the occurrence and re-occurrence of abscesses in the breast. Although less of a risk factor that nipple piercing, there are more smokers than women with pierced nipples, which may account for more breast abscesses within a population.

The study is the first to show that nipple piercing may be linked to the development of breast abscesses, the researchers said.

Breast abscesses are painful and difficult to treat, and tend to recur in 40 to 50 per cent of cases. Until now, there has been a lack of research on the risk factors associated with this condition.

Study leader Vinod Gollapalli said: "Nearly 60 per cent of patients with a recurrence of breast abscess were heavy smokers.

"Since smoking appears to be a strong risk factor for both causing breast abscess and its recurrence, we recommend patients should be counselled to quit smoking as an integral part of treatment."

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, analysed the histories of 68 patients who did not have a current or previous history of breast cancer, breast radiation therapy, or breast surgery within the past 12 months. Almost half of the patients were smokers and nine had nipple piercings.

This article was published on Wed 4 August 2010

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