France recommends removal of PIP breast implants

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PARIS (AP) - The health minister has called on some 30,000 women with breast implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese to have them removed “as a preventive measure not of an urgent nature.”

In a statement Friday, Xavier Bertrand recommended the removal of all PIP implants _ not just ones showing signs of deterioration. The French state says it will foot the bill for the removals.

The statement said that while PIP implants have not been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, the risk that they could rupture and leak a questionable type of silicone gel has been shown.

Tens of thousands of women in France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries in Europe and South America have had implants made by PIP.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

PARIS (AP) _ Tens of thousands of women in France, Britain and other countries are awaiting French government guidance Friday on what to do about their breast implants, which may be unsafe.

French health authorities are expected to make an unprecedented move to urge women with silicone gel implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese to get them removed at the state’s expense, because of the risks that they could rupture and leak a questionable type of silicone gel into their bodies.

It’s unclear how far the French recommendations will go, and how much the extreme measures could cost the government as it teeters toward a new recession.

Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries in Europe and South America are keeping a close eye on the French decision, which could have repercussions on their health guidance, too.

Women who have had their implants burst and leading French plastic surgeons are urging the government to act. The death last month of a woman who had the implants and developed a rare cancer catalyzed worries, though authorities have not reported any confirmed link between the implants and increased cancer risk.

About 2,000 Frenchwomen given pre-filled silicone gel implants made by Poly Implant Protheses, or PIP, have filed legal complaints against the company, based in southern France. Investigators say it saved 1 million euros a year by using industrial silicone instead of more expensivfe silicone meant for medical use in the implants.

The French government ordered a halt to production of the implants last year and the company is being liquidated.

The main concern of doctors and patients is the uncertainty surrounding the risks of the silicone used.

“I don’t know what might be inside of me,” said Annie Mesnil, 62, who had a breast removed after cancer in 1999, and was given a PIP implant.

After the product was recalled last year, a mammogram and ultrasound did not reveal any problem with her implant. But she had it removed anyway, at her own expense, out of fear. When her surgeon took it out and studied it, “he discovered it had already burst.”

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