A recent report published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reveals that PIP breast implants do in fact pose health threats, and can cause damage to a developing fetus.

The new report disagrees with the NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s recent statement claiming that PIP breast implants do not have any associated serious health risks.

The authors say that PIP implants have a high number of small molecules known as D4, a type of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). EDCs can cause damage to a fetus.

This has the potential to become a serious public health issue, especially considering that plastic surgery is a field of medicine that is growing very rapidly. According to the authors, “there are estimated to be a total of 130,000 women in the UK who have received breast implants and around 47,000 of these were silicone implants manufactured by the French-based company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP).”

Over the past few years there has been a great deal of media focus on PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) breast implants. Last year, the boss of the company that makes the implants, Jean-Claude Mas, was arrested because of claims that the implants were faulty and had potential health risks.

In fact, the French banned the implants in 2010 after concerns that the manufacturer was using unauthorised silicone gel. A French governmental inspection of breast implants manufactured by PIP and ROFIL Medro since 2001, revealed that most of the implants were filled with industrial grade rather than medical grade silicone.

The UK Department of Health issued an update last year advising women with PIP implants to speak to their GP or surgeon, given the possible health risks, as well offering a free removal of the implants if the original operation was carried out through the NHS.

German authorities expressed concern with the implants. Officials from the BfArM Institute informed the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) that breast implants being sold under the name TiBREEZE contained PIP components. The ISAPS recommended that women check with a specialist to have their TiBREEZE or PIP implants removed.

Co-author of the study and director of consumer protection organization Antidote Europe, Andre Menache, said:

“Considering these known risks and the fact that most women receiving breast implants were of reproductive age, we would expect the MHRA and the Department of Health to fulfill its duty of care and thoroughly investigate these risks as well as provide full information to patients.”

Some of the reasons why the researchers disagree with the claims made by Sir Bruce Keogh, include:

  • Most of the report information used was based on animal and not human data.
  • According to Menache: “the report is inconsistent with its reliance upon animal-based data, accepting some results while dismissing others without providing human-based support tests as back up.”
  • Only one toxicologist was appointed to investigate the scandal.

Menache concluded: “Based upon the evidence presented here, we feel that the PIP breast implant scare is an example of regulatory and quality control failure that urgently requires addressing.”

Written by Joseph Nordqvist