Problem

Hazardous medical use of silicon gel

Other Names:
Harmful silicone implants
Connective tissue disorder
Nature:
Silicone (a compound of silicon, oxygen and hydrocarbons) is used to enlarge breasts, erase wrinkles, flesh out thin lips and buttocks, and even to enlarge the penis. One concern with the safety of silicone gel is that it seeps out, even if the envelopes remain intact. The seepage is spread elsewhere in the body by white blood cells. The immune system may be injured, making some women more susceptible to connective tissue disorders, such as systematic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma. It is not known whether the presence of implants can have any effect on a foetus, or increase the chances of breast cancer. However, with the implants in place, screening of breasts using X-rays is less likely to detect a cancer when it is still small and potentially most curable.
Incidence:
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned silicone-gel implants for most women in 1992 because of concerns they might leak or rupture, causing diseases of the immune system. The FDA restricts their use to post-mastectomy reconstruction. Reports first surfaced in the mid- to late 1980s alleging that silicone breast implants caused autoimmune diseases.
Counter Claim:
According to a US study (2001) there is little evidence that silicone breast implants trigger production of an antibody linked to cancer and other diseases. Of 288 women who had had or still had breast implants, five had an excessive production of an antibody protein in blood plasma cells that in some cases precedes other diseases, such as multiple myeloma. Four had the same condition in the control group of 288 women who had never had an implant.
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
28.03.2001 – 00:00 CEST