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Silicone gel-filled breast implants and connective tissue diseases

A J Park, R J Black, N S Sarhadi, U Chetty, A C Watson
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 1998, 101 (2): 261-8
Recent worldwide press and media speculation that silicone implants may be linked to an increased incidence of breast cancer, other cancers, and connective tissue diseases-particularly systemic sclerosis-is a current cause for concern to the medical profession and public alike. We conducted a cross-sectional study of the prevalence of connective tissue diseases, as well as signs and symptoms associated with these conditions, in women who had received a silicone gel-filled breast implant for either breast augmentation or breast reconstruction following mastectomy for breast cancer compared with women without implants in South East Scotland. We compared 317 patients who had had a silicone gel-filled breast implant inserted with matched controls. We found no increased incidence of antinuclear antibodies or rheumatoid factor in the study groups. We detected one case of rheumatoid arthritis in the reconstruction group and one in matched controls, but no cases of any other connective tissue disease. No cases were found among the augmentation patients or their controls. No differences were found in symptoms or physical signs of connective tissue diseases between the study patients and their controls. This study has failed to find any case for a link between silicone gel-filled breast implants and connective tissue diseases.

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