Study links breast implants and abnormal fat processing

Public Affairs
Rob Armstrong ­ (403) 220-5727

7 June 1995

Women who have breast implants may have an increased risk of developing
lipid abnormalities, according to the Breast Implant Study Group at the
University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine.

Steven Edworthy, associate professor of community health, and his group
recently completed a study of blood serum samples from 1,587 women with
breast implants and 749 women who underwent other cosmetic surgery.
During the study the group unexpectedly discovered a layer of creamy,
opaque material floating on the blood samples. Further analysis of this
material revealed it contained high lipid levels (fat particles) in the
form of chylomicrons.

"In some studies chylomicrons have been found to be associated with
atherosclerosis. Up to now chylomicrons have never been associated with
breast implants," says Edworthy.

Edworthy¹s finding, published in the May 27 issue of the British medical
journal Lancet, is believed to be the first report of this observation.
Researchers have in the past examined links between breast implants and
cancer or autoimmune disease, but not conditions associated with abnormal
lipid profiles.

Under normal conditions chylomicrons are always present in blood, but it
is rare to see them in thick layers. More than 39 per cent of the implant
group had an increased prevalence of this abnormal finding, compared to
15.3 per cent in a control group.

No significant difference was found between women who had silicone or
saline implants, nor were links found between smoking, alcohol
consumption, weight, age or presence of conditions as diabetes mellitus or
hypothyroidism. However, the material was greatly reduced in women who
fasted for 12 hours.

As estimated 220,000 women in Canada and 15,000 women in Alberta have
breast implants.

The study by Edworthy and his group was aimed at determining if breast
implants are associated with the development of connective tissue disease
in women. Those results are expected to be available later this summer.

Women wanting more information can contact the Breast Implant Study group
at 1 ­ 800 ­ 563-9543. Media wishing to interview Steve Edworthy should
call (403) ­ 220-7916.