Breast implants and cancer are topics which continue to stir as much controversy today as they have in past years. At one time, silicone breast implants were linked to certain forms of cancer, although the association was never scientifically proven. Actually, long-term studies have concluded that breast implants do not pose any risk for the development of cancer and many are actually used in the reconstruction process for breast cancer survivors.
This essay examines the relationship between breast prosthetics and the dreaded disease of cancer.
Breast Implants and Cancer Scare
During the 1970’s and early 1980’s many women received newly redesigned silicone implants, featuring thinner shells and less viscous silicone liquid filler. Many of these implants failed and women began to experience ruptures, deflation and silicone migration throughout parts of their bodies.
These events caused a widespread investigation into the potential health risks of silicone and breast implants in general. Silicone was linked to a variety of diseases, sometimes out of speculation and user experience more than due to any concrete facts. Nevertheless, implant manufacturers were liable for the poorly designed and performing implants which caused many women to remove their prostheses, due to actual or perceived health problems.
The nocebo effect of this mass implant failure, and the vast media attention it received, caused a huge overhaul of the breast implant industry. The FDA even banned the use of silicone as an implant material for general consumption until further safety testing could be completed.
Breast Augmentation and Cancer Relationship
Governmental and private agencies immediately went to work trying to conclude if there were any actual links between breast implants and any harmful health condition, including cancer. Over many years of testing and re-testing, there was simply no conclusive proof that silicone caused any health concerns whatsoever.
The final endorsement as to silicone’s safe reputation came in 2006 when the FDA restored it as an available implant material in the USA.
These results angered many women who were convinced that they were sickened by the breast implants. However, no agency ever claimed that these women were not sick. Women get sick, breast implants or not, and these patients were no exception.
Comparative analyses of women with various types of implants, versus no breast implants, were studied in great detail. There was no higher risk for implanted women to develop any particular form of cancer, or other disease, than women who never had augmentation mammoplasty.
The evidence pointed overwhelmingly to the conclusion that although many women with implants were indeed ill, the implants were not the definitive cause of the sickness. They simply seemed to be a coincidental factor.
Equal percentages of women without implants suffered from identical health conditions. If anything was proven, it was the fact that women with breast implants actually discovered cancers and other health concerns faster and earlier than non-augmented women, since women with implants were so strictly warned to undergo early and routine cancer testing, on a regular basis, for many years.
Breast Implants and Cancer Irony
Not only were implants cleared as a potential cause of cancer, but they have always played an active role in rebuilding the missing and damaged breasts of women who suffer from breast cancer.
Silicone and saline implants are used in a variety of breast reconstruction procedures with tremendously successful results. Of course, there are also reconstruction options which do not require implants, such as the TRAM flap and the latissimus dorsi flap technique.
Many cancer survivors have loved the relative ease of implant-based breast repair and have enjoyed years of happiness from their post-mastectomy implant-based breast reconstruction.
In this regard, breast implants have actually proven themselves to play a valuable part in the battle to beat cancer.
Breast Implants and Cancer Controversy
There remains a small, but vocal minority, of people who still believe that breast implants are dangerous. Although these groups had a time when their opinions were widely regarded, scientific evidence has demonstrated that most are the unfortunate victims of a serious illness; but not serious illness caused by implants.
This article is in no way disrespecting these brave women, who have every right to believe what they feel in their hearts to be true.
If you need further information on breast cancer and implants, feel free to read the studies for yourself. They are easy to find and are available from numerous government agencies across the globe, as well as some of the most prestigious private hospitals and clinics in the world.
Take the time also to read the counterpoint evidence that many quality victim advocacy groups make available. Once you have read it all, you can decide for yourself what works best for you.