- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2000

If silicone breast implants are so terribly dangerous, why do so many women continue to line up for elective surgery using these devices? All told, 4.6 million cosmetic surgeries are performed annually in the United States, a great many of them breast implant and augmentation or other procedures using silicone. Some of those procedures are done purely for aesthetic reasons; others as cosmetic adjuncts to mastectomies or to correct pre-existing physical problems.

Of the 1.5 million women who’ve had breast implant surgery, two-thirds have said they are “very satisfied” with their supposedly “dangerous” implants, according to a definitive study by the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM), an adjunct of the National Academy of Sciences.

IOM was charged by Congress with investigating the existence of any relationship between silicone implants and disease. The institute has found no causative link between serious illnesses, such as auto-immune system failure, and silicone contrary to the baseless allegations made by greedy class action attorneys and their paid “expert witnesses.”

That some women have become ill at some point after having had implants does not mean they became ill because of the implants. No one remains healthy forever, and in any group of people, if you check in on them in 10 or 20 years, several will almost certainly have become ill, even died. That does not mean there is a “connection” any more than the rooster deserves credit for making the sun come up in the morning.

Consumers are beginning to see through the smoke screen released by lawyers looking to make a fast buck from mass hysteria. There remains, however, a fair amount of confusion and deliberate misinformation about silicon and silicone implants, an excellent safety record of nearly 30 years notwithstanding. The litigation spawned by trial lawyers in the 1990s has attempted to create a link between the implants and major systemic diseases. Those efforts have left an undeserved patina of doubt about silicone as well as lingering, unjustified limitations on the use of silicone medical devices enacted by a politicized Food and Drug Administration.

It’s worth highlighting just a few of the most important findings of the IOM report the full text of which maybe downloaded at www.nap.edu.com. These include:

• There is no evidence that silicone implants are responsible for any major diseases of the whole body, such as autoimmune disease. Women are exposed to silicone constantly every day.

• Cow’s milk and infant formula each have far higher levels of silicon, a basic component of silicone, than the breast milk of mothers with silicone implants.

• The problems definitively associated with implants are local and not life-threatening. Those include pain, scarring, ruptures and deflation, “capsular contraction” and the occasional need to remove or replace the implants.

Women contemplating plastic or cosmetic surgery who are interested in learning the full truth about silicone and implantation surgery should listen to the medical experts and study the conclusions of the IOM report and ignore the prattling of lawyers feeding off the misery of a few women who experienced problems concurrent with, but unrelated to, their implants.

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