France's health ministry said on Friday there was no cancer risk from breast implants made by local firm PIP but recommended to the women with implants to have them removed after eight cases of cancer.

"/> France's health ministry said on Friday there was no cancer risk from breast implants made by local firm PIP but recommended to the women with implants to have them removed after eight cases of cancer.

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HEALTH

Breast implants pose ‘no higher cancer risk’

France's health ministry said on Friday there was no cancer risk from breast implants made by local firm PIP but recommended to the women with implants to have them removed after eight cases of cancer.

Breast implants pose 'no higher cancer risk'
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Women with PIP implants “do not have a higher risk of cancer than women who have implants manufactured by other firms”, a statement said but added there were “well-established risks of ruptures.”

However Health Minister Xavier Bertrand called for their removal as a “preventive measure,” while stressing that this was not “urgent.”

French health officials had earlier said the government plans to recommend to the 30,000 French women with PIP implants that they be removed. The eight cancer cases involved mainly breast cancer.

The now-bankrupt Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) was shut down and its products banned last year after it was revealed to have been using non-authorized silicone gel that caused abnormally high rupture rates of its implants.

Facing financial difficulties, the company, once the world’s third-largest producer of silicone implants, replaced the medical-grade silicone in its implants with industrial-strength material.

Documents obtained by AFP on Wednesday showed that tens of thousands of women in more than 65 countries, mainly in South America and western Europe, received implants produced by PIP, which ceased trading last year.

Prosecutors in Marseille, near the firm’s home base of Seyne-sur-Mer, have received more than 2,000 complaints from French women who received the implants and have opened a criminal investigation into the firm.

Yves Haddad, a lawyer for 72-year-old PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas, told AFP his client was prepared to face prosecution and denied the implants could be linked with health problems.

“For the moment there is no evidence that the product can cause illness,” the lawyer said.

According to PIP’s 2010 bankruptcy filing in the southern city of Toulon, it exported 84 percent of its annual production of 100,000 implants.

Between 2007 and 2009, 50 to 58 percent of its exports went to South American countries including Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, the filing showed.

In the same period, 27 to 28 percent of exports went to western European nations including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany. 

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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