Breast implants 'have no cancer link' says UK watchdog

Dr Susanne Ludgate: "We would really advise women in this country not to panic"

Related Stories

Women with silicone breast implants made by a French company do not need to have them removed, UK officials say.

French authorities will decide shortly whether women should have implants supplied by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) removed, amid fears of health risks.

But the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says none of the evidence into possible links with cancer supports removal.

It is thought up to 40,000 British women have the PIP silicone implants.

Women with implants who are concerned have been told to contact the surgeon or clinic that fitted them. According to the MHRA, the vast majority (95%) of the implants were fitted privately, with less than 5% used within the NHS.

In the UK, more than 250 British women are to start legal action, said a lawyer. Over half had suffered ruptured implants, Esylllt Hughes told the news agency AFP.

PIP used non-medical grade silicone believed to be made for mattresses, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). This meant the low-cost devices were more likely to split.

'Seek advice'

Eight cases of cancer, mainly breast cancer, had so far been reported in patients with PIP implants, France's Director General for Health, Jean-Yves Grall, told the Liberation newspaper. A ninth patient in Gers died of cancer last year.

Implant fears: timeline

  • March 2010: French authorities suspend use, marketing, distribution and export of the implants
  • March 2010: The UK government agency which regulates the safety of medicines, the MHRA, advises UK doctors not to use the implants. They tell women with concerns to consult the surgeon who fitted the implants
  • October 2010: MHRA says early test results show no evidence that the filler has potential to cause cancer but further testing is to be carried out by French regulators
  • April 2011: MHRA says French regulators have found no evidence of genotoxicity (potential for cancer) or chemical toxicity of the filler material inside the devices

But the head of France's National Cancer Institute, Dominique Maraninchi, said last week the cases were not necessarily linked to faulty implants.

The MHRA said there was "insufficient evidence to indicate any association with cancer" after reviewing the available evidence with the relevant UK professional bodies.

It said it had worked in consultation with the cancer registry as well as professional bodies for breast surgery and surgical oncology.

"The MHRA's current advice to women with any type of breast implant continues to be that women who are concerned about their breasts or think that their implants may have ruptured, should seek clinical advice from their implanting surgeon," the agency said.

It added: "There is currently no evidence to support routine removal of PIP breast implants."

A statement from the British Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) said: "BAPRAS has not yet seen the evidence demonstrating that health problems may have been caused by PIP breast implants and will fully assess any that becomes available.

Start Quote

These implants have a higher failure rate so there will be women who might choose to have their implants removed before that happens, whereas others will be happy to be monitored”

End Quote Douglas McGeorge BAAPS

"We currently believe that the expected announcement from French medical authorities will be a precautionary measure.

"Surgeons will be in contact with any patient who has received this type of implant if any action is required."

Douglas McGeorge, consultant plastic surgeon and former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said patients with breast implants should check whether they have had one from PIP.

"The message here is not to panic," he said.

"The advice is unchanged. Women with PIP implants should be checked by the clinic where they had their surgery and can then be monitored afterwards.

"These implants have a higher failure rate so there will be women who might choose to have their implants removed before that happens, whereas others will be happy to be monitored."


More than 300,000 implants are believed to have been sold globally by PIP over the last 12 years.

About 30,000 have been fitted in France, out of which more than 1,000 have ruptured.

PIP went into administration last year and the use of its implants was banned.

French authorities say they will decide on Friday whether to ask the women given that type of breast implant to have them removed.

The French government has formed a special committee to look at the issue.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Health stories



  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa

  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.