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Health officials in the United Kingdom are now proactively monitoring medical reports for signs of breast implant illnesses, as a growing number of women report a variety of symptoms and health complications that some medical experts indicate may be related to certain types of implants.
On January 16, the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued guidance that indicates it is now monitoring for reports of illnesses linked to breast implants from around the world.
A number of doctors now recognize symptoms among women with silicone implants as “breast implant illness,” commonly involving chronic side effects like fatigue, cognitive problems, muscle and joint pain, hair loss, infections, gastrointestinal problems, rashes and thyroid issues.
In many cases, the breast implant illness problems have led women to have the implants removed, and concerns about the risk have become a factor many are questioning whether to undergo breast enhancement or reconstruction surgery. However, the illnesses have not yet been scientifically verified, and in the U.S. the FDA has required breast implant manufacturers to investigate the potential side effects, particularly with silicone breast implants for several years.
The MHRA indicates it is looking into medical reports, scientific literature and other sources to better understand the illnesses.
“We work closely with an independent expert group, the Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Expert Advisory Group (PRASEAG), as well as other regulators across the globe,” the MHRA states. “To increase our understanding of breast implant safety, together with independent experts, we continue to pro-actively monitor reports and research from around the world.
According to the MHRA, reports it has reviewed are not limited to silicone implants, but saline implants as well. Reported symptoms have included “brain fog”, fatigue, anxiety, joint pain and reports of autoimmune disorders. In some reports, removal of the breast implants have resulted in improvements.
“Currently we do not know if there is a link between breast implants and the reported health problems, as there is no single disease which could explain the symptoms some people are reporting to us or to their clinicians,” the MHRA states.
Breast Implant Lymphoma Problems
In addition to the unexplained breast implant illnesses, concerns have also emerged in recent months about a link between certain designs of breast implants and lymphoma, which may develop in the tissue surrounding certain types of devices. The cancer is now commonly referred to as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
On January 26, 2011, the FDA first released a report about case studies and epidemiological research, whcih suggested there was a link between breast implants and ALCL.
After confirming that nearly all reports were linked to certain types of devices with microtextured surfaces, the FDA announced a global recall for all Allergan Natrelle and Biocell implants in July 2019, due to the risk of breast implant ALCL.
A growing number of breast implant ALCL lawsuits are now being pursued by women throughout the United States, including several class action lawsuits that call for medical monitoring for women with the recalled implants.