France recommends removal of risky breast implants

By ANGELA CHARLTON , Associated Press
Dr. Maurice Mimoun, a plastic surgeon at the St Louis hospital, holds silicone gel breast implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, that he removed from a patient because of concerns that they are unsafe, Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011. French health authorities are considering whether to suggest that an estimated 30,000 women in France get their breast implants removed, amid warnings by leading doctors about risks of rupture and possible cancer risks. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

(AP) -- Tens of thousands of women with risky, French-made breast implants should have them removed at the state's expense, the health minister recommended Friday, adding that such removals were "preventive" and not urgent.

While implants made by Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, have not been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, the risk that they could rupture and leak a questionable type of gel has been shown, Xavier Bertrand said in a statement.

"As a not of an urgent nature, (French authorities) recommend that the removal of these implants, even those not showing signs of deterioration, be proposed," the statement said. It added that the costs of removal would be footed by France's system - presumably solely for French patients.

Some 30,000 of women in France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries in Europe and South America have had implants made by PIP. in those countries have been following the French decision closely and could make similar recommendations, too. The implants in question were not sold in the U.S.

Women who have had their implants burst and leading French plastic surgeons had been urging the government to act. The death last month of a woman who had the implants and developed a catalyzed worries.

About 2,000 Frenchwomen given pre-filled silicone gel implants made by PIP have filed legal complaints against the company, based in southern France. Investigators say it saved euro1 million ($1.3 million) a year by using industrial silicone instead of more expensive silicone meant for medical use.

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."

Health officials from several European countries held a conference call Wednesday to discuss the implants.

The health council of Italy's health ministry held an emergency session Thursday to discuss the pending French decision, and asked hospitals to track down women who received made by PIP. The ministry estimates that about 4,000 PIP implants are in use in Italy.

The ministry's health council also said the national health system would pay to have the implants removed if medical conditions required it, such as if they ruptured.

While saying there was no proof of any greater cancer risk among women with PIP implants, the council suggested that women with the implants contact their surgeons because there's a "greater probability of rupture and inflammatory reaction."

British health authorities say they see no reason so far to have the French-made implants systematically removed, and have said that there is not enough evidence of a link between silicone implants and cancer.

In the U.S., concerns about silicone gel implants in general led to a 14-year ban on their use. Silicone implants were brought back to the market in the U.S. 2006 after research ruled out cancer, lupus and some other concerns.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Italy seeking women with French breast implants

Dec 22, 2011

(AP) -- Italy's health ministry on Thursday asked hospitals to track down women who received silicone breast implants made by a suspect French company due to concerns the implants may be unsafe.

France may order 30,000 women to remove implants

Dec 20, 2011

Up to 30,000 French women and perhaps tens of thousands more around the world may need to have defective breast implants removed after several suspicious cancer cases, officials said Tuesday.

Women urged not to panic over breast implant scare

Dec 21, 2011

French authorities are to issue an expert report on Friday saying whether the implants, produced by the now-bankrupt Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) company, should be removed after several suspicious cancer cases. ...

Canada OK's silicone gel implants

Oct 23, 2006

Canadian health officials have approved the use of silicone gel breast implants, 14 years after the government imposed a partial ban of the product.

New proteins detected on silicone breast implants

Dec 19, 2006

Scientists in Austria are reporting detection of previously unrecognized proteins that accumulate on the surface of silicone breast implants after implants are in the body. Georg Wick and colleagues say that the proteins ...

Recommended for you

Supplement maker admits lying about ingredients

16 hours ago

Federal prosecutors say the owner and president of a dietary supplement company has admitted his role in the sale of diluted and adulterated dietary ingredients and supplements sold by his company.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.