PIP implants: experts raise further concerns

by Thompsons Solicitors on June 5, 2013

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A year and a half since the PIP breast implant scandal first broke the women affected are still being given conflicting advice regarding the potential long term health effects of the industrial grade silicone used to fill the implants. In February 2013, the Department of Health and the MHRA had published their findings after the Expert Group led by Sir Bruce Keogh had requested in its final report (published in June 2012) that further chemical and toxicological testing be carried out on PIP implants to establish whether, and to what extent, the silicone used in PIP breast implants could be associated with increased health hazards compared with conventional medical grade silicone. The published findings concluded that the silicone in the implants was not toxic but that the PIP implants did have a much higher concentration of chemical molecules called siloxanes. The report noted that a type of siloxanes called D4 had been found to reduce female fertility in rats but stated that this was not believed to represent a risk to human health.

However, a new report disputes the conclusions drawn by the Department of Health and interprets the test findings differently, stating that in their opinion, the silicone in PIP implants could in fact be harmful. Andre Menache, director of consumer protection organisation Antidote Europe and Dr Victoria Martindale, an environmental campaigner, published an article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine expressing their concerns about the potential effect of the siloxanes on foetal development. Their concerns are shared by BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons), which has stated that testing should be carried out on silicone taken from ruptured implants to examine the effects of silicone that has been in the body. They also continue to recommend that all women with PIP implants should have them removed.

So, what are women with PIP implants supposed to believe? It is clear that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the long term health effects of the silicone. The only way that these can be answered once and for all is for toxicological testing to be carried out on implants that have been removed from the affected women. They deserve a better answer than a shrug of the shoulders and a “we don’t really know” from the Department of Health.

Sarah Smith Solicitor, Thompsons

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