Silicone breast implant patients face greatly increased risk of autoimmune disease

November 7, 2018 by Lesley Young, University of Alberta
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Women with breast implants mostly only had to worry about leaks, but a large-scale Israeli study performed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Alberta confirmed almost one in four implantation patients is at risk of a serious autoimmune disorder.

"The of women with breast implantation developing an autoimmune disease was 45 per cent higher compared to women without implants," said Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of the Division of Rheumatology at the U of A.

"While some previous studies have shown similar risks, their results were criticized because the diagnoses were self-reported. Our study used a physician-based registration so it's the first to confirm the relationship exists between implants and based on diagnoses made by doctors."

The International Journal of Epidemiology study, which compared nearly 25,000 Israeli women with with nearly 100,000 women without an implant, will be discussed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Cohen Tervaert.

"The U.S. health regulators say they'll convene a public meeting of medical advisers next year to discuss new science on breast implant safety, including an independent analysis that suggests certain rare health problems might be more common with .

"Bottom line, there is clear evidence that implantation of foreign bodies in humans is not without risks in who are genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disorder. This is why screening measures, such as warning women who already have pre-existing autoimmune diseases or allergies of the increased risk, need to be put in place before surgery," he added.

Previous research conducted by Cohen Tervaert showed that surgical mesh implants, often used for hernia or gynecological repair, may be the reason so many patients report symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. Specifically, he found that 45 per cent of patients developed an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis after a mesh implantation, and patients who had allergies before the implant were significantly worse after.

The new study also showed the strongest association between and Sjögren's syndrome (autoimmune disorder of the salivary and tear glands), systemic sclerosis (autoimmune disorder of the connective tissue affecting the skin, arteries and visceral organs such as lungs and kidneys) and sarcoidosis (autoimmune disorder of the lung, skin and lymph nodes), said Cohen Tervaert.

The causal theory behind both breast and mesh implants and autoimmune is that there's an instant activation of the body's immune system when a foreign material is put in it.

"It continues to fight the foreign body and eventually, over time, fatigues and may become dysfunctional," explained Cohen Tervaert.

Concerned patients should discuss risks with their physicians about existing or future breast or mesh implants, he said.

The United Kingdom, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand have already put holds on mesh implantation, said Cohen Tervaert.

"In addition, patients in the Netherlands who are planning a are warned about the increased risks of developing autoimmune disorders if they already have allergies. In Canada, there are no rules (yet) in place."

Explore further: Surgical mesh implants may cause autoimmune disorders

More information: Abdulla Watad et al. Silicone breast implants and the risk of autoimmune/rheumatic disorders: a real-world analysis, International Journal of Epidemiology (2018). DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyy217

Related Stories

Surgical mesh implants may cause autoimmune disorders

July 31, 2018
Surgical mesh implants, often used for hernia or gynecological repair, may be the reason so many patients report symptoms of an autoimmune disorder, according to a University of Alberta rheumatologist.

Silicone breast implants linked to increased risk of some rare harms

September 17, 2018
Women receiving silicone breast implants may be at increased risk of several rare adverse outcomes compared to the general population, reports a study in Annals of Surgery.

Breast implants slightly increase risk of breast ALCL

January 5, 2018
(HealthDay)—Breast implants are associated with an increased risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in the breast (breast-ALCL), though the absolute risk is small, according to a study published online Jan. 4 in JAMA Oncology.

Long-term outcomes of breast implants explored

September 24, 2018
(HealthDay)—The long-term outcomes of breast implants include increased rates of certain conditions for silicone implants, according to a study published online Sept. 14 in the Annals of Surgery.

FDA plans meeting to discuss safety data on breast implants

September 14, 2018
U.S. health regulators say they'll convene a public meeting of medical advisers next year to discuss new science on breast implant safety, including an independent analysis that suggests certain rare health problems might ...

Nine US deaths linked to breast implant-associated cancer

March 22, 2017
Nine women are believed to have died in the United States from a rare cancer linked to breast implants, US health officials said Tuesday, with more than 350 cases of the disease recorded nationwide.

Recommended for you

A gut bacterium as a fountain of youth? Well, let's start with reversing insulin resistance

November 16, 2018
Move over Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. There's a new health-promoting gut bacterium in town, and it's called Akkermansia muciniphila.

New inflammation inhibitor discovered

November 16, 2018
A multidisciplinary team of researchers led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed an anti-inflammatory drug molecule with a new mechanism of action. By inhibiting a certain protein, the researchers were able ...

Pets can double as asthma antidote

November 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—The "hygiene hypothesis" holds that early exposure to a variety of microorganisms may decrease the risk for chronic inflammatory diseases, like asthma.

Rapid response inpatient education boosts use of needed blood-thinning drugs

November 16, 2018
A new study designed to reach hospitalized patients at risk shows that a "real-time" educational conversation, video or leaflet can lower the missed dose rates of drugs that can prevent potentially lethal blood clots in their ...

New study shows NKT cell subsets play a large role in the advancement of NAFLD

November 16, 2018
Since 2015 it has been known that the gut microbiota could have a direct impact on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects up to 12% of adults and is a leading cause of chronic liver disease. In the November ...

Race plays role in regaining weight after gastric bypass surgery

November 15, 2018
African Americans and Hispanic Americans who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) are at greater risk to regain weight as compared to Caucasians. To date, no study has addressed the effect of race on weight regain ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 07, 2018
this has been well known among clinicians for years, but the girls just gotta have 'em big

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.