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Breast implants and autoimmune disease.

A new study strengthens the link between silicone gel breast implants and autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and a skin-hardening disorder known as scleroderma.

Scientists led by Eng M. Tan of Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., have found so-called antinuclear antibodies in the blood of 23 women who developed autoimmune disease after receiving breast implants made of silicone gel. Tan and his colleagues report in the Nov. 28 Lancet that those women with the highest levels of such antibodies had the worst symptoms. Moreover, women whose implants had ruptured or leaked silicone experienced symptoms more than five years sooner than women whose implants had remained intact, they say.

Physicians currently use elevated levels of specific antinuclear antibodies -- so named because they attack proteins within cell nuclei -- to diagnose various autoimmune disorders. Tan and his colleagues suggest that exposure to silicone can cause autoimmune diseases. However, they caution that their data do not allow them to rule out the possibility that such exposure simply hastens the onset of symptoms among women already developing an autoimmune disease.
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Title Annotation:silicone gel implants linked to systemic lupus, erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 12, 1992
Words:181
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