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New research suggests that side effects of silicone gel breast implants may cause women to experience a variety of health problems, including melanoma, arthritis and other complications.
In a study published late last week in the medical journal Annals of Surgery, researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center warn that silicone breast implants appear to be linked to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, stillbirth and skin cancer.
Researchers looked at data on nearly 100,000 patients, 54% of whom received silicone gel implants. The multicentered cohort study looked at implants from two manufacturers, Allergan and Mentor.
According to the findings, silicone gel breast implants were linked to an eight-fold increased risk of Sjogren syndrome, a seven-fold increased risk of scleroderma, nearly six times the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, more than four times the risk of stillbirth, and more than triple the risk of melanoma.
“This is the largest study of breast implant outcomes,” the researchers concluded. “Silicone implants are associated with an increased risk of certain rare harms; associations need to be further analyzed with patient-level data to provide conclusive evidence. Long-term safety and implant-related outcomes should inform patient and surgeon decision-making when selecting implants.”
Breast Implant Concerns
The study comes amid increasing concerns about problems with silicone breast implants reported by women nationwide.
Women experiencing a variety of complications often referred to as “breast implant illness”, describe chronic side effects, such as fatigue, cognitive problems, muscle and joint pain, hair loss, infections, gastrointestinal problems, rashes and thyroid issues. In many cases, the problems have led women to have their breast implants removed, and concerns about the risk have become a factor many are questioning when deciding whether to undergo breast enhancement or reconstruction surgery.
While the FDA and the medical community have acknowledged the risk of breast implant ruptures and leaks, and, more recently, a form of lymphoma found to develop in the tissue surrounding breast implants, the larger breast implant syndrome risk has not yet been recognized.
Most doctors still do not review the potential risk of breast implant health side effects with patients, since it is not a recognized medical condition and there have been no studies to establish that it exists. However, science often takes time to catch up with the fast pace of emerging health risks that may appear on the internet and social media.
Over the last year or two the FDA’s focus regarding breast implants that may be linked to a rare form of cancer.
Last year, the FDA issued warnings about breast implant lymphoma rates, long after concerns about the risks first emerged. A number of subsequent studies have confirmed that the cancer risk is real, and suggest that it may be linked specifically to the use of certain textured breast implants with larger surface areas.
In June 2017, a study published in the medical journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggested that certain textured breast implants may increase the risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma anywhere from 10 to 14 times, when compared to smooth breast implants.
In October 2017, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgerywarned that many breast implant cancer cases worldwide have likely not been reported, and noted that many doctors continue to be unaware of the BIA-ALCL risk.
As awareness of the problem increases, many experts have warned that the number of diagnosed breast implant ALCL cancer cases is likely to increase. As a result of manufacturers’ failure to adequately research the risks associated with their devices, a number of women are now pursuing potential breast implant cancer lawsuits, and it is possible that breast implant illness claims may also be pursued if independent scientific evidence emerges to support the claims.