ACSH: Breast silicon disease review

Gary Greenberg Gary.Greenberg at Duke.Edu
Thu Nov 30 00:10:22 EST 2000

American Council on Science and Health 

(Moderator Note: ACSH is an organization solidly skeptical about new
claims of environmental health dangers. Their editorials & press
releases are presented to the OEM-L forum in an effort to provoke
intellectual discussion, not as an endorsed point of view. For contrast,
see the newsletters posted from RACHEL. -G)

Updated Report: Scientific Evidence Fails to Halt Silicone Breast
Implant Controversy 


New York, NY—November 2000. The number of epidemiological studies that
provide scientific evidence supporting the safety of silicone-gel breast
implants continues to mount. Nevertheless, the Food and Drug
Administration's moratorium has been in effect since 1992, prohibiting
the sale and use of silicone-gel breast implants. The science has been
ignored, however, according to the American Council on Science and
Health (ACSH). The new ACSH booklet Silicone-Gel Breast Implants: Health
and Regulatory Update 2000 reviews the scientific evidence and examines
some of the factors that contribute to the public's fears and
misconceptions concerning the safety of silicone-gel breast implants. 

The new report clarifies the scientific issues surrounding the breast
implants, and describes the forces driving the implant controversy,
including the media, plaintiffs' attorneys, and activist groups. It was
updated by Rodney J. Rohrich, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at The University of
Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and Arshad Muzaffar, M.D.,
a Fellow from the same department. This booklet is an update of a 1996
ACSH publication written by Michael Fumento: Silicon Breast Implants:
Why Has the Science Been Ignored? 

"The American Medical Association has gone so far as to urge that
'physicians be informed of the current scientific data available in
order to recognize and address the considerable public anxiety
concerning the safety of breast implants, an anxiety not warranted based
on current scientific evidence,'" noted the authors of the report. 

But while there appears to be little, if any, scientific basis for the
ban on silicone-gel breast implants, factors such as alarmist television
programs and magazine articles continue to incite public concerns over
the hypothetical link between implants and disease and drive this

"Although life expectancy continues to rise steadily, many Americans
fear that life is becoming ever more dangerous. It is unfortunately all
too common to see various groups and individuals latch onto a view of
specific products or processes as dangerous as part of a belief that
technology in general is harmful," the authors write. 

"In a sense, the anti-silicone-implant crusade is a microcosm for so
much that is wrong with how scientific data and principles are distorted
and ignored when there is greater gain to be had by doing so. The
resoundingly antiscientific—and, until recently, successful—crusade
against silicone implants portends problems for many other products that
may be destroyed by analogous waves of hysteria," they conclude. 

The American Council on Science and Health is a public health,
consumer-education consortium of over 350 scientists and physicians,
experts who serve on ACSH's scientific advisory panel. ACSH publishes
reports on issues pertaining to the environment, nutrition,
pharmaceuticals, and tobacco and helps the public deal with real health
risks productively. 

A copy of " Silicone-Gel Breast Implants: Health and Regulatory Update
2000" may be downloaded from
<www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/breast_implants.pdf>. Hard copies
are available for $5.00 from ACSH, 1995 Broadway, Second Floor, New
York, NY 10023. 

The American Council on Science and Health is a consortium of more than
350 scientists and physicians dedicated to consumer education on public
health issues, such as the environment, nutrition, and pharmaceuticals.
ACSH attempts to illuminate the difference between real health risks and
hypothetical or trivial health scares. 

Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH    Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu     Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
OEM-L Maillist Website:                      http://occhealthnews.com


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