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Faulty PIP Breast Implants, the CMO and assessing risk

We have already written critically about the Chief Medical Officer’s proposal to decide how, where and whether women with PIP Breast Implants should receive medical attention.

However, this is not the only problem with the State’s medical establishment’s response to the PIP Breast Implant scandal.

RTE, the Irish Times and other news organisations included a similar reassuring coda to their reports.

According to the department and the Irish Medicines Board, there is no evidence of increased risk of cancer for women with PIP implants, while the risk of rupture is low.

Irish Times

The first claim- that there is no evidence of an increased risk of cancer is unquestionably, happily, true. Large scale expert studies have found no additional risk of cancer associated with the PIP Breast Implants.

But the same study, from the NHS in the UK, found that PIP Breast Implants were up to six times as likely to rupture as standard implants.

The NHS study also tentatively estimates up to 30% failure rate by 10 years for PIP implants.

By any reckoning, this is not a low risk of rupture.

Furthermore, the NHS studied records of women who had had both normal and PIP Breast Implants removed. It found that women with PIP Implants were 4.6 times as likely to have inflammation and/or lymphadenopathy than women with normal implants. They were 23.3 times as likely to present with lymphadenopathy alone.

Women should be reassured about the lack of evidence of a cancer risk from PIP Breast Implants.

But the evidence of real risks should not be ignored if women are to be empowered to make an informed decision about actions they should take about their own bodies.