French Silicone Breast Implants Possible Link to Cancer

The death of 53-year-old Edwige Ligoneche of a rare form of breast cancer has sparked concern over French silicon breast implants. Ligoneche, who died in a Marseille cancer clinic last month of lymphatic cancer, had the breast implants in 2005 when she was 47 years old, but within two years she started feeling unwell. She was finally diagnosed with cancer in May of this year.

It was discovered that one of the implants (which are believed to have been filled with silicone destined for mattresses) had leaked and cysts had formed around the tissue with the silicone leeching into her system. Although there has been no definite link between the implants and Ligoneche’s cancer, her family are convinced that it is the implant that caused it.

Her sister, Katia Colombo stated that Edwige was in good health and did not drink or smoke and that “The inflammation was confined to one place, the place where the implant broke. It is obvious.”

Now, women in the UK who have had the French made implants are being urged to get check ups amid fears that they too might be at risk. It is thought that an estimated 50,000 British women, amongst them breast cancer survivors, may have had the French-made implants, which experts are saying are more fragile and highly likely to leak than other brands.

The problem came to light when complaints about the implants started to worry French surgeons who found they were rupturing far more than the more expensive brands. In fact, in tests, it was found that 10 per cent of the implants ruptured within a year, whereas on average, standard implants should last at least 10 years.

When the company was asked about safety data they had none as the silicone used was for bed mattresses and not been tested for use in humans. The problem is that the Poly Implants Prothèses (PIPs) are the cheapest on the cosmetic surgery market and it is this that makes them attractive to potential clients.

The French Society of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons are reviewing its policy on the implants after saying that the gel could have been an ‘aggravating factor’ in the cancer. However, in the UK, there is conflicting advice.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency or MHRA, who are responsible for our safety regarding drugs and medical devices, explicitly told surgeons to stop using the French implants, but, later tests seemed to rule out any link of cancer to the implants and the MHRA said patients should be reassured that there is ‘no current evidence’ of a health risk. In a change of stance altogether however, it was revealed that last night the MHRA stated that breast implants have also been linked to cancer in America. So is it the implant itself or the way the implant is inserted?

British plastic surgeons are laying the fault at the door of the French manufacturer, who now, by the way, has now gone into liquidation. The President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, Fazel Fatah, said: “It is important to remember that the number of breast implant patients globally is considered to be higher than ten million, yet these tumours are extremely rare.

In relation to PIPs, we continue to reiterate our advice to UK patients in line with the French authorities: if you have, or suspect you have these implants, you should have a scan every six months. If there is any rupture or weakening, have both implants removed.”

So there you have it. Faulty, cheap implants inserted into the bodies of women that rupture and leak silicone into their system. It doesn’t take a scientist to work out that this can only have a detrimental effect. If you have had French made implants our advice is to get them checked and possibly removed, for your own health and well-being.

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