Breast Implants

I.

Should breast implants be concidered dangerous or are they safe for women to use? Small-breasted women in America say that they feel inferior or unfeminine in a culture where breast size is a major issue. Popular fashion models today are usually thin,but large-breasted,especially those who model lingerie,evening wear and swimsuits. With American culture seeming to equate cleavage with sexiness,it is no wonder that some smaller-breasted women doubt their attractiveness and recive implants that make their breasts larger.The explosive popularity of breast implants over the past three decades has waned recently,however,as a result of a growing controversy over their safety. Are breast implants dangerous? Do they cause
otherwise healthy women to become ill? Or are they a safe option for women who either lose a breast to cancer or simply want to change the way
they look? There are two main kinds of breast implants-those filled with silicone gel and those filled with saline (a salt-water solution) enclosed in a hard silicone shell. While critics contend that implants pose a threat to womenís health,defenders insist that that no cause and effect relationship
has been established between implants and disease.

II. Why Women Want Breast Implants

A 1986 Psychology Today survey found that one-third of American women were unhappy with the size of their breasts. For many reasons,personal body image and self-esteem are closely interwined. Young
women are bombarded with images of the "Perfect" female body-often the sort of body they feel that men most admire and covet,and a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. Many girls first become body-conscious during adolescence,when they notice changes in their breast sizes;some women remain determined,often because of a lingering lack of self-esteem or confidence,to seek through breast augmentation what they consider to be perfection. Eighty percent of women who seek breast implants do so for cosmetic reasons-they want to have larger breasts. The remaining 20% seek breast reconstruction after they have had a mastectomy (breast removal) due to cancer. Many breast-cancer survivors suffer significant psychological trauma at the loss of a breast,and breast implants are a crucial element in making the women feel whole again. Despite the thousands of women who say they have encountered problems with implants,90% of women who have had breast-augmentation surgery are satisfied with the results,according to a 1990 survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic and Reconstuctive Surgeons (ASPRS).

III. History of Implants

1962- Researchers invent first silicone-gel breast implants;it goes on
the market.

1969- Saline breast implants introduced.

1976- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) given authority to
regulate breast implants.

1978- Dow Corning Corp.scientists tells FDA that studies are
necessary to determine risks of implants.

1988- FDA decides to consider breast implants as Class III devices;
manufacturers are required to submit data on their safety.

1991- FDA notifies implant manufacturers that they must submit
safety data.

1992- FDA imposes voluntary ban on sale of silicone-gel implants,
citing lack of safety data;allows limited use of that type of
implant if recipients participate in studies.

1994- FDA notifies makers of saline implants that they must submit
data on safety.

1994- Mayo Clinic study finds no link between silicone-gel
implants and connective-tissue diseases.

1994- U.S. District Judge Sam C. Pointer approves largest product
liability settlement in U.S. history:implant makers are to
pay out $4.25 billion over 30 years to women who say
implants made them sick.

1995- Dow Corning,the countryís largest implant manufacturer
until it ceased production of implants in 1992,declares
bankruptcy in May,citing soaring litigation costs.

1995- Harvard University study reports no link found between
silicone-gel implants and connective-tissue disease.

IV. What Are the Dangers

There are certain undisputed hazards associated with breast
implants,and manufacturers say they have been clear about them. Among
the risks outlined by implant makers:implants can rupture or leak,tissue around implants can harden,cause pain and change the breastís appearance (a condition called "capsular contracture"),and implants can
interfere with doctorsí ability to detect tumors. In addition to these dangers,there has been fear-although unsubstaintiated to date-that breast implants can cause cancer. In fact,only one type of implant,formerly made
by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.,has been linked to cancer,and that implant was withdrawn from the market in 1991. The FDA now says the risk of
getting cancer from implant is one in a million,and not worth the risk of having the implant removed. The health debate has centered on the effects
of silicone gel on the human immune system. Patients and their doctors
allege that silicone implants have caused serious autoimmune diseases. An
autoimmune disease is one in which the bodyís immune system attacks its
own cells.