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An article in Business Week Magazine (June 10, 1991, but can't yet find a link) kicked off a debate that raged throughout the 90's. It stated that silicone breast implants manufactured by two Big Pharma companies could rupture and cause damage to a woman's immune system, which would result in all manner of health problems.

Is this claim supported by evidence?

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    Thanks for asking this. My understanding is that the associate lawsuits are what drove Dow Corning out of business so I'd really like to see if there was any substance to the scare. – Russell Steen Mar 30 '11 at 18:00
  • Couldn't believe it wasn't already up here. – Monkey Tuesday Mar 30 '11 at 18:07
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    [A late reply to @RussellSteen] Dow Corning are still in business. They got themselves out of bankruptcy protection in 2004. – Oddthinking May 20 '14 at 2:42
  • A couple of problems: The problems blamed on implants are just as common in those without implants and the blood test that supposedly detected the problem was basically fraud. – Loren Pechtel Nov 30 '15 at 3:20
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My first foray into silicone toxicity brings me to this report:

http://www.fjc.gov/BREIMLIT/SCIENCE/chap1.pdf

Which, while old, determined no conclusive link between autoimmune problems and the implants.

Another study, from 2009 which also showed no apparent link between them:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1275451-overview

Silicone is toxic if inhaled, but there's no hard data on its toxicity via leakage of implants. Silicone is soluble in organic solvents, but not water. Therefore I'm more apt to suspect that any leaked silicone would remain in the fatty breast tissue. The question would be whether or not that silicone will react with the breast tissue, and I haven't seen any studies regarding that yet.

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    Actually, the more that I consider it - there might be a link between the generation of implant implanted (har), the length of time of the silicone leak and possibly a development of a silicone allergy or hypersensitivity - but that would be based on the individual and not a population at large. – Darwy Mar 30 '11 at 22:52
  • +1 for acknowledging hypersensitivity reactions, which are immunologically mediated. And for realizing that this is indicative only of individual variation. – Monkey Tuesday Mar 30 '11 at 23:58

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