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Breast Myths: Do Silicone Implants Cause Lupus?

It’s March, spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to bust another breast myth! Lisa from San Francisco wrote to Pink Lotus Power Up and wants to know: Do Silicone Implants Cause Lupus?

In response to claims that a link exists between silicone gel implants and immunologic or autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma, Sjögren’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called SLE or lupus), and fibromyalgia, the FDA restricted silicone gel implants to only being used in surgical reconstruction in 1996. That restriction lasted for 14 years.

Given the infrequency of these disorders, large-scale epidemiologic studies were required to determine a possible cause-and-effect relationship. 31 studies from four countries, totaling an analysis of over 500,000 women, failed to find a statistical relationship between any known or newly recognized disease and silicone. As a result, the FDA concluded that no connection existed which exceeded the natural population risk of developing immunologic or autoimmune disorders with or without implants present. The widespread use of certain silicone implants was therefore reinstated in 2006.

Leave your comments below, share with hashtag #BreastMyths, and don’t forget to submit your Breast Myths questions and I will confirm or bust them right here on the Breast Cancer 101 blog! Until next month. I am wishing you all the “breast” of health!

Breast Myths is a monthly editorial contribution by breast cancer surgeon and Pink Lotus co-founder Dr. Kristi Funk and appears here on the Pink Lotus Power Up Breast Myths blog.

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2 years ago

I have systemic lupus erathmatosis (1992) and in 2015 was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I was advised to not use silicon implants in reconstruction. I know that the way my body operates having lupus, it would of began to reject/attack the foreign objects resulting in a failed implant surgery. In reading this claim above I would have to argue that an undiagnosed disease of lupus undergoing breast cancer treatment with implants could result in a diagnoses based on what I just shared simply because lupus doesn’t like foreign objects. Therefore, you could have lupus and just not know it – and when you undergo silicon implants you find out you do because your body fights against them.

Jennie Latta
Jennie Latta
2 years ago

I had a silicone implant in 2006 following right-side mastectomy. I healed well and thought I was cured. But I developed severe depression and anxiety after a few months. I was put on various medications, but nothing really helped. Four years later I decided to have a prophylactic mastectomy on the left side (I still thought cancer was a foreign invader that I could prevent with surgery.) I planned to have another implant but in reading the disclosures prior to surgery discovered that many woman have developed depression following a silicone implant. I told the plastic surgeon to remove the implant I had. He tried to talk me out of it, but I thought that if there was any chance that the silicone could be contributing to my problems, I wanted it out! That was nine years ago. My depression did not lift immediately but over time, I felt better and stronger. I no longer take any medication for depression or anxiety.

My cancer has recurred (twice), but now I’m treating it with nutrition, supplements, and exercise. I’ve never felt better! I wish I knew then what I know now. I believe I could have avoided a lot of suffering.

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