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New cancer fears over breast implants in France

Ben McPartland · 17 Mar 2015, 13:40

Published: 17 Mar 2015 13:40 GMT+01:00

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France is once again asking itself the question about the dangers of breast implants and more specifically how likely they are to cause cancer and whether they should be banned.

France's national cancer institute said on Tuesday there was a "clearly established link" between a rare form of cancer and a certain type of breast implant, as the health minister sought to allay fears.

The national cancer institute (INCa) said there had been 18 cases of the rare disease -- anaplastic large cell lymphoma -- since 2011, linked to silicone breast implants.

Given the rarity of the cases, the INCa said there was no need to recommend the removal of the implants.

"This complication presents very infrequently," the body said.

Although the number of cases reported since 2011 are low given the fact around 400,000 women in France have implants. But they are rising year on year, to the concern of cancer experts.

French health authorities have said that they will take all the necessary steps if experts advise them to do so.

“If we need to take action to ban them then we will,” said François Hébert from France’s national drug and health agency (ANSM), which will meet in 10 days to discuss the reports.

In France around 400,000 women are believed to have had breast implants inserted, 83 percent for aesthetic reasons and 17 percent for reconstructive surgery.  

“It’s been decided that women who are intending to have breast implants put in should be warned of this new risk, even if it is fairly weak,” said Hébert.

Hebert said that out of the cases of cancer reported one person has died.

France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine has tried to ease fears saying it's not recommended that women start making appointments to have the implants removed and that the public should not fall victim to "unnecessary panic".

She added that no particular brand of implant had been placed under suspicion of causing the cancers. "We will remain absolutely vigilant," she said.

According to analysis by Le Parisien newspaper the cancer appears to be caused by inflammation which occurs around the surface of the implant.

France has long been concerned by the possible detrimental impact of breast implants on women’s health ever since the scandal broke that the firm PIP was saving millions of euros by using industrial-grade gel in 75 percent of the implants. 

It only came to light after an unusual number of ruptures.

PIP's founder Jean-Claude Masa, who was dubbed "the sorcerer's apprentice of implants" was jailed in 2013 for fraud.

In May last year the ANSM said that despite measures taken to avoid a repeat of the recent global healthcare sparked by faulty French implants, the industry could do a lot more to improve safety and inform women of the potential dangers. 

And it said it had ordered a French and a South Korean breast implant company to stop selling their products in France as they did not meet safety standards. 

Story continues below…

The report, carried exclusively by Le Parisien newspaper, said that 2,169 women had since 2010 reported that their breast implants had ruptured. 

It said this figure was separate from the cases of women who had implants made by the French firm PIP.






Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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