All posts by BIeditor

Why Are So Many American Women Having Mastectomies?

Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and Megan Polanin, PhD, National Center for Health Research, Our Bodies Ourselves: June 15, 2017

When Angelina Jolie publicly announced her double mastectomy four years ago, she was praised for possibly saving many women’s lives. But we know more today than we did then and experts now agree that too many women are undergoing unnecessary mastectomies – even some women with the “breast cancer genes.”  You’ll be surprised by what we’ve learned.

A 2007 review of 10 studies found that the risk of getting breast cancer for an average woman with BRCA1 is 57%. The risk is 49% for a woman with BRCA2. Although frightening, this is far from the inevitable breast cancer diagnosis that many women expect. And, keep in mind that the lifetime risk of breast cancer is very different from the risk of getting breast cancer in the next 10 years or even 20 years. According to experts, a 40-year-old woman with the BRCA1 gene has a 14% chance of getting breast cancer before she turns 50. We’re willing to bet that is a much lower risk than most women assume. With regular screening and all the progress in breast cancer treatments, the survival rate from breast cancer is higher than ever. Many breast cancer patients live long and healthy lives.

Most women are diagnosed with breast cancer at early stages, making it safe to undergo a lumpectomy (which removes just the cancer) rather than a mastectomy (which removes the entire breast). Yet American women are undergoing mastectomies at a higher rate than women in other countries, including prophylactic mastectomies. Breast cancer experts believe that many women undergoing mastectomies do not need them and are getting them out of fear, not because of the actual risks.

For many years, experts have known that women who undergo mastectomies for the non-invasive condition called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or for early-stage breast cancer do not live longer than women undergoing lumpectomies. However, the latest research goes a step further:  A 2016 study of more than 37,000 women with early-stage breast cancer found that the women undergoing lumpectomies were more likely to be alive 10 years later than women with the same diagnosis who underwent a single or bilateral (double) mastectomy. They were also less likely to have died of breast cancer. In 2016, Harvard cancer surgeon Dr. Mehra Golshan reported that of almost half a million women with breast cancer in one breast, those undergoing double mastectomies did not live longer than women undergoing a mastectomy in only one breast. These are just the latest studies – for more information about the years of consistent evidence that less radical surgery is better, see this article.

And yet, an increasing number of U.S. women with early-stage breast cancer are choosing to have both their breasts removed “just to be safe.” A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University reported that, for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast, the rates of double mastectomy increased from 2% to 11% from 1998 to 2011. Researchers found that decisions to have a double mastectomy increased more for two groups of women: 1) Women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) where there are abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast that won’t spread and aren’t dangerous unless breast cancer develops later; and 2) Women with cancer only in one breast that has not spread to the lymph nodes. This year, researchers from Emory University reported that the percentage of women over 45 getting double mastectomies for early-stage breast cancer in one breast increased from 4% to 10% in less than a decade. For women ages 20-44, the percentage tripled from 11% to 33%. To some extent, geography was destiny: in five Midwestern states (Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota), 42% of the women who got surgery had a double mastectomy.

The bottom line is that women with DCIS or early-stage breast cancer have more effective and less radical treatment options than mastectomy. Even women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 may never develop breast cancer, and if they do, they may not need a mastectomy. We need to stop thinking of mastectomy as the “brave” choice and understand that the risks and benefits of mastectomy are different for every woman with cancer or the risk of cancer. In breast cancer, any reasonable treatment choice is the brave choice.

So, the good news for women newly diagnosed with cancer is that mastectomies are not the best choice for most women if they want to live longer. Women should be aware of treatment choices for breast cancer and encouraged to make decisions based on their own unique situations. For each woman, it is important to weigh her own risk of cancer — in the next few years, and not just over her lifetime – and the risks of various treatments. Each woman should make the decision that is best for her, based on information, not on fear.

Read the original article here.

Tammi H.


I was born with a congenital defect of small, tuberous breasts.  In 2004, when I was 32 years old, I made a decision to get saline breast implants.  I  had always been self-conscious of the way I looked, especially in swimwear, since I was a teen.

The breast implants did wonders for my self-esteem and made me feel that my breasts were more normal.  I was told that it was advisable to get them removed in 8-10 years, if I was experiencing any problems, but that some women are able to keep them for a life-time.

Fast forward 3 years and I am pregnant with my third child  (only pregnancy with implants) and I had so many issues with my pregnancy….morning
sickness all day long for 4 months straight, issues with urinary retention that my doctors could not explain.  After having my child and feeling like I just couldn’t bounce back with my energy level, I had a physical.  I was told I had an enlarged thyroid and might have rheumatoid arthritis.  I was sent to an endocrinologist and a rheumatologist.  They told me I had Hashimoto’s and possibly the beginnings of arthritis.  After several years of being on thyroid meds with no improvement, I took myself off.  By that time, my hair was falling out, I was low in iron, I had no energy, I had strange rashes on my scalp and neck, I was gaining weight, I was freezing cold all the time, my vision got worse, and I had trouble concentrating (brain fog).

In 2013, I began having severe cramp-like sharp pains under my left breast that would literally take my breath away.  Two different doctors told me it was probably just scar tissue from my surgery.  I really just gave up trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
In 2016, one week after a mammogram, I began having severe pain in my right jaw and right side of neck.  I went to the chiropractor for 3 months, who could not help me but suggested I might have TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.  I also went to an orthodontist, who confirmed that I did not have TMJ.  I saw an article on Facebook about Hugh Hefner’s wife having implants removed because they were causing health issues and she referenced a Facebook group she had joined about Breast Implant Illness.  I wondered if the mammogram had caused a leak in my implants.  I immediately checked out the Facebook page and had a light bulb moment — literally thousands of women were experiencing the same exact symptoms as myself!  I spent the next 3 months having consultations and getting my insurance to approve this surgery, which was pretty easy once I was diagnosed with Grade III capsular contracture and severe pain which was documented on my medical record by 2 doctors.  Insurance did deny covering implant removal the first time, but with the encouragement of the National Center for Health Research, I tried again– my surgeon appealed for me and coverage was approved the second time.

I am pleased to report that 3 weeks post-surgery, 90% of neck and jaw pain is gone, my hair has stopped falling out, I’ve lost 10 lbs without trying, and the brain fog is almost gone.  The surgeon told me that the pain I was having was where the capsule had become adhered to my chest wall.  I am still having a lot of soreness/pain in the area he had to cut and scrape more.  But getting my implants removed was the best decision I ever made.  My worst decision was getting them in the first place.  My body apparently has been fighting these foreign objects for at least 10 of the 12 years that I had them, causing a major autoimmune response.

Can Breast Implants Cause Cancer? WJLA Investigates


“You have cancer — again.”

“What? Breast cancer?”

“No … a new one.”

So went the conversation between a stunned 40-year-old Raylene Hollrah and the plastic surgeon who performed her reconstructive surgery after she survived breast cancer seven years earlier.

Her new cancer diagnosis? Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL for short. Of all the potential side effects of breast implants, she did not recall her surgeon ever mentioning a small but increased risk of cancer.

“I did everything to keep cancer away,” Hollrah told 7 On Your Side. “Yet, I put a device in my body that caused cancer.”

The US Food and Drug Administration is not prepared to say that the textured breast implants Hollrah chose cause lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

But in 2011 and again in 2016, the FDA cautioned of a “possible association” between ALCL and implants. […]

When 7 On Your Side filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) about ALCL cases reported to the FDA, we received more than 800 documents representing 441 cases, more than one-third unconfirmed, and at least 12 deaths. Even since the 2011 advisory from the FDA about ALCL and implants, when manufacturers responded to reported adverse events, they often listed many risks but didn’t include ALCL. […]

7 On Your Side spoke with a leader in the field of women’s health, Diana Zuckerman, PhD, President of the National Center for Health Research. Zuckerman was our chief source for information about the risk of suicide after implants. Regarding BIA-ALCL, she wrote:

“It is not true that textured implants are the only ones associated with BIA-ALCL. This summary of a recent medical journal article clearly says that “most women with ALCL have at least one textured implant” but that doesn’t mean they all do.

Read the original article here.

After Mastectomies, an Unexpected Blow: Numb New Breasts

Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times: January 29, 2017.

After learning she had a high genetic risk for breast cancer, Dane’e McCree, like a growing number of women, decided to have her breasts removed. Her doctor assured her that reconstructive surgery would spare her nipples and leave her with natural-looking breasts.

It did. But while Ms. McCree’s rebuilt chest may resemble natural breasts, it is now completely numb. Her nipples lack any feeling. She cannot sense the slightest touch of her breasts, perceive warmth or cold, feel an itch if she has a rash or pain if she bangs into a door.

And no one warned her.

“I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” said Ms. McCree, 31, a store manager in Grand Junction, Colo., who is raising two daughters on her own.

Plastic surgeons performed more than 106,000 breast reconstructions in 2015, up 35 percent from 2000. And they have embraced cutting-edge techniques to improve the appearance of reconstructed breasts and give them a more natural “look and feel” — using a woman’s belly fat to create the new breast, sparing the nipple, minimizing scarring with creative incisions and offering enhancements like larger, firmer lifted breasts.

Read the original article here.

Jamee Cook

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In 1998, I made a decision that changed my life forever: to get breast implants. It wasn’t anyone’s decision but mine. I was a confident young woman, but I guess felt like my femininity was lacking due to my AA breasts. Hindsight sure changes our perspectives, though.

My Dallas plastic surgeon chose textured, saline implants above the muscle. The surgery went great and it was definitely a confidence booster for me. I liked the way that they looked.

My husband and I had our first son in 2000. I had some difficulty breastfeeding. Shortly after birth, I noticed that my breasts looked weird. After some research, I realized that I had developed symmastia. This is sometimes referred to as “breadloafing” or “uniboob”. So, I went back to my original surgeon. He wasn’t concerned, saying that my breasts look similar to his wife’s. This wasn’t reassuring. I consulted with another Dallas plastic surgeon. He said that surgery to fix the problem would cost $7500.  I knew that would have to wait.

In early 2002, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given medication. I then became pregnant with our second son. I again had difficulty breastfeeding. He was healthy when he was born, but two weeks later he was hospitalized, endured a spinal tap, developed hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and failure to thrive. He was hospitalized several times during his first few years and diagnosed with immune dysfunction. If weird things could develop, it would happen to him.

Over the next few years, my health declined. I began to develop fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a low grade fever. I was employed as a paramedic in an emergency room so I attributed my symptoms to job exposure. I knew that I didn’t feel good but I didn’t really know what was going on. Most lab tests were normal. I was treated for chronic sinus infections. My anxiety worsened and brain fog began. My home life suffered because I couldn’t keep things organized. It was a big mess. I was eventually diagnosed with ADD and treated for that and depression. 

I left my ER job to work at a pediatric clinic.  I was still sick. I had surgery in 2009 surgery to try and correct my sinus problems, but they continued.  In 2010, I began to have very painful nodules in my neck and chest. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. I also was diagnosed with CMV (Cytomegalovirus) and Chronic EBV (Epstein-Barr). They are both very common but my body just didn’t seem to fight them off. The combination of chronic viruses and autoimmune illness resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I quit my job.  At some point we could no longer afford insurance so I couldn’t even try to solve my medical problems.  My fatigue was ridiculous. I was way too young to feel the way that I did.

Over time, the implants decreased in size. In March of 2012, I woke up to find that my left implant had ruptured. I was completely distraught and embarrassed, but we weren’t in any financial shape to have them replaced.  For three years I made my breasts look even by inserting a silicone insert into my bra. The implant slowly leaked more and more. My husband said it didn’t bother him but it was very awkward for me. I couldn’t act appealing when I didn’t feel that way. Intimacy suffered. It was horrible to know that I was causing that much distress to my husband and marriage but didn’t have an answer to fix it.

 As a former paramedic, I looked for answers in medical journals and scientific publications and realized that my implants could be making me sick. I found a Dallas Explant surgeon, who no longer performed breast augmentation surgeries because he had seen too many sick women. He had now performed approximately 5,000 breast implant removal surgeries. He would eventually be the surgeon to remove my toxic bags.

While saving money for explant, my life was chaotic. I couldn’t think straight or keep organized. My patience was very thin. My family life suffered. It took everything in my power just to get up and perform basic duties. My body felt like it was in a constant battle with itself. I needed to see specialists but didn’t have insurance and I couldn’t afford it. I felt like a complete failure. I had failed myself and my family.

 In August of 2015, I had my 17-year-old PIP implants and my capsules removed. It was a new beginning.

I never tell any woman that all of their symptoms are from their implants. They most likely aren’t. I never tell any woman that explant is the answer to all of their problems. It isn’t. But, many of my unexplained symptoms went away immediately. The migraines, the low grade fever, the swollen lymph nodes, the arm and hand numbness, the brain fog – GONE. The burning sensation in my left breast after rupture – GONE. I still have viral illness I battle. I still have autoimmune Hashimoto’s. My health overall has greatly improved, though. My patience is better. My libido is better. The fatigue is still a battle but it is improved. I am able to interact with my children more. I was able to care for my papaw in the last year of his life.

And, I became an advocate.

  • I started a public Facebook group. This is where I first shared my journey and where I now share all of the publications I come across. It has videos and photos that the public can view.
  • I’ve joined forces with two fantastic women who have been diagnosed with breast implant-associated lymphoma (ALCL), and created a Facebook group for women to learn more about it. We work closely with Dr. Suzanne Turner, pathologist at the University of Cambridge, and with Dr. Mark Clemens, at MD Anderson in Houston. They have both been extremely helpful in helping us to advocate and to educate ourselves and the public on this rare disease.
  • I’ve joined with several other women to create an informal group called Breast Implant Victim Advocacy. We have joined forces with device victims, such as women harmed by Essure, to raise awareness about the larger picture. People are being harmed by medical devices because they aren’t help to the same safety standards as other medical products.
  • I’m a member of the new USA Patient Network and working with Consumer Union’s Safe Patient Project, to help raise awareness and to be a stronger advocate for safer medical products.

The same stories have been told by women with breast implants for more than two decades and their voices are not being heard. Many women have led the way for us. Social media helps today’s women combine their efforts to raise awareness. We need to be heard. Laws need to change. Surgeons and physicians need more awareness and more accountability. Patients need to be taken more seriously. The media needs to publicize these issues more. Momentum is building. Please help share our stories. If you are a victim and haven’t told your story, please do. Every story makes an impact.

Raylene Hollrah


I am Raylene Hollrah, a 2-time cancer survivor by the age of 40. Here is my story.

In March 2013, I was living a wonderrayleneful life.  I was the mother of a beautiful three- year-old little girl named Allyson.  I was a loving wife, a successful business owner, and I was heavily involved in my community.   I had no idea my life as I knew it was about to drastically change.

I was at an appointment to start the fertility process again for another child, when my OB/GYN suggested doing a clinical breast exam.  My doctor felt a lump during the exam and ordered a mammogram immediately, followed by ultrasound. Then a breast surgeon did a biopsy.   When I saw the look in my surgeon’s eye and her demeanor changed, I knew that I had been dealt the card of breast cancer.

I was 33-years-old and no family history of cancer. On April 20, 2007 I chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction, followed by a summer full of chemo. I lost all my hair, I lost my chest, but I never lost faith. My oncology group was incredible and my medical team was amazing. They were there to take care of me physically and mentally. My 3-year old daughter used to tell me, “Mommy, please take off your hair and show everybody your beautiful bald head.”  My amazing husband knew just what to tell me and has been an inspiration ever since. He took one look at my chest and said, “The only thing I see missing … is cancer.”

Reconstruction was constantly on my mind — I was 34- years-old and I had lost my female identity.  I went to 3 plastic surgeons trying to find answers, trying to find out if I wanted to move forward and what my options were. All 3 doctors agreed that implants would be the way to go.  I chose Allergan cohesive silicone implants, I was also part of a study to follow patients that received those implants for 3 years.  In 2008 I started my reconstruction journey.

I had been doing everything to keep cancer away, I didn’t realize my next decision would lead to my next diagnosis.

The next several years went smoothly. Jayson and I welcomed Ryan, our next child, into our lives. Ryan had lost his mother to cancer when he was 5 and around age 12 was informed that his step-father had cancer as well. He had been moved into foster care, but we officially became guardians in 2012.

Life stayed normal for a while, but one day I noticed that one of my implants was slightly swollen. As the days went by, it became exponentially worse.  My chest tripled in size in 4 days.  After a CT scan at my local hospital I was advised to go to my plastic surgeon’s office immediately. After testing and draining, he assured me that I did not have cancer but suggested that my right implant needed to be removed and replaced.

On my 40th birthday I underwent an implant exchange. My plastic surgeon told me while in surgery he have a pathologist check for breast cancer and a very rare lymphoma.  I wasn’t worried since the previous test had said I was fine.

On June 21st, 2013 my plastic surgeon told me I had Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, ALCL. I was the 25th documented case in the US and 61st in the world.

The days following were a blur, an immediate trip to Houston, TX to MD Anderson Cancer Center. Because of the rarity at the time of this diagnosis they were one of the leading hospitals with knowledge of this rare cancer.

The next 5 months of my life were mainly spent in Houston.  The first line of treatment was the complete removal of the implants and second bi-lateral mastectomy. It was to be followed by CHOP chemotherapy and then radiation, but when they realized that the cancer was contained in the scar tissue and capsule, they said there was no need for additional treatment.

For the past 3 years I have been traveling to Houston for cancer scans. My health has been good.

When I was diagnosed with breast implant associated ALCL, I was told the condition happened to 1 in 3,000,000 women, but it soon became clear from talking to my medical team at MD Anderson that this disease was being under diagnosed. Just three years later, they are saying the odds are 1 in 30,000.

I have started a non-for profit organization, Just Call Me Ray, to educate women about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer, the dangers of implants, and rising up when cancer happens. I have also traveled around the U.S. and spoken to different groups about the need for informed consent with breast reconstruction or augmentation. Our social media has exploded in the past year, with thousands of women that have been struggling with illness because of their implants. And my biggest concern is the growing number of women that have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL.

I might have lost my chest, but I have not lost my voice. I will continue to share my story and educate women and the public. IMPLANTS DO CAUSE CANCER!

Can Having Breast Implants Lead to Suicide? 7 On Your Side Investigates

Kimberly Suiters, WJLA ABC7: November 7, 2016.

Three-hundred thousand women will get breast implants this year, making it the number one cosmetic surgery in the U.S. Research shows the typical breast implant patient has high self-esteem and good mental health, higher and better than the general population. According to implant manufacturers, satisfaction rates top the 83-97 percentile range, excellent results for any kind of surgery. So why would some women with breast implants have a higher rate of suicide than women who don’t have them?

“Maybe just a coincidence,” Dr. Scott Spear, a well-known plastic surgeon in Washington, D.C., told 7 On Your Side. “There may be an association between breast implants and suicide, but it’s probably a loose association.”

That’s not the way Diana Zuckerman, PhD, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, sees it. Not at all.

“When you look at suicide and implants, the women with breast implants are more likely to kill themselves.”

How much more likely? Anywhere from two to 12 times. Zuckerman wrote about that conclusion after evaluating seven studies on the topic.

“Some surgeons believe if a woman with implants kills herself, she must’ve had something wrong to begin with; that she got implants because of low self-esteem, depression, to feel better. But women with implants are more likely to kill themselves than with other (plastic) surgeries. Why would a mastectomy patient be 10 times as likely to kill herself as a mastectomy patient who doesn’t have implants?”

Zuckerman doesn’t know that answer definitively, but she is convinced there is something physiological or mental that causes women with implants to have a diminished view of themselves.

The number of women who get to that tragic point is small. According to the CDC: 9.8 women per 100,000 will commit suicide. And middle-aged women, in general, had the largest increase in suicide in the last 15 years, up 63 percent.

Dr. Zuckerman said women going through menopause are one of the highest risk groups. Their bodies have changed after giving birth, and they may be lured in by “Mommy Makeover” marketing.

“But according to research,” she said, “it’s a bad time. A dangerous time.”

[…]

Read the original article here.

Chandra DeAlessandro


My name is Chandra DeAlessandro. My 27-year struggle with “Last a Lifetime” implants has been a long journey. It started in 1989, when I was pressured into implants because of my profession. I believed that I would work more as an actress, stuntwoman and fitness clinician if I got implants. (I am a member of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, Screen Actors Guild, and a 2nd degree black belt. I have numerous film, TV and commercial credits as well as fitness videos.)

chandra

My first breast augmentation involved a polyurethane textured implant called the Meme (made by Surgitek/Bristol-Myers Squibb) which was banned within months of my surgery. Shortly after surgery, my lymph nodes were swollen and tender all the time. I had to have a tonsillectomy, and antibiotics for reoccurring infections in my breast and lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and later developed a very painful Baker IV capsular contracture. Without social media and internet, I really could not get the information I needed – and my plastic surgeon did not notify me when the Meme implants were banned because research showed that the polyurethane used had not been designed to be in the human body, and broke down in the body to a chemical called 2-toluene (TDA), which is known to cause cancer.

In 2000, due to the capsular contracture, I had a capsuletomy (the implants and capsule removed) and replaced the implants. To ease my worries, I was told by my California surgeon that I could get silicone breast implants again if I agreed to participate in a 10-year “Core Study.” He told me that he and the implant company McGhan would closely monitor my health. Again, he did not inform me of any risks. As soon as the surgery was over, I was never contacted to be part of the study. If I had, the following 16 years of pain and suffering could have been avoided.

Instead, my health declined. I had 6 surgeries because of the implants, including a hysterectomy. My mind and body was screaming “IMPLANTS” as Doctors would tell me “NO WAY” – assuring me they are safe and FDA approved. The list of my symptoms was long and complicated: hormonal imbalances, depression, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s, adrenal fatigue, mystery rashes, brain fog, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, connective tissue disorder, digestive issues, kidney & liver dysfunction, reoccurring sinus infections, bronchitis, scarring on my lungs, breast pain/infections, lymph node swelling and discomfort, peripheral neuropathy, food allergies and more.
As my health declined, my career was also harmed. I had to be more selective in the stunt/acting jobs I accepted.

In October 2015, a routine mammogram ruptured my right implant, sending all the unidentified chemicals in my implants to wreak havoc on my already weakened body. I was finally explanted in March 2016, removing ALL the capsules (including those from previous implants, as well as a mass and 5 lymph nodes). Silicone had migrated all through my chest and clavicle area.

I have been diagnosed with two autoimmune disorders, Sjogren’s and Hashimoto’s, and was tested for implant related lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a cancer of the immune system, in September 2016. In October 2016 another ultrasound was performed and another mass was detected. The mass was removed, and I am now waiting for additional test results.

I share my story as a mom of two beautiful girls. I never want them to go through the nightmare I have. I want them to love and accept their natural body. My oldest daughter is being tested for autoimmune disorders and has a very weakened immune system.

I advocate so other women can be informed of the risks of breast implants, including autoimmune diseases, capsular contracture, and BIA-ALCL. I want them to be warned that implants can interfere with breastfeeding, and can make mammograms dangerous since the pressure can cause rupture and leakage. The FDA, manufacturers, doctors, and Insurance providers need to be held accountable for the pain and suffering of millions of women. More studies need to be done to prove the safety and efficacy. Women need to be told the truth, so that they can provide informed consent for all the risks, including the financial and emotional costs. The FDA allowed the companies’ “studies” to drop most of their patients – in other words, they were not real studies. The FDA needs to require studies of all the women with implants and require accurate reporting by physicians who know their implant patients are harmed but aren’t notifying the FDA. Insurance companies need to pay for implant removal when it is medically necessary. Although my surgery certainly was medically necessary, I had to pay over $20,000.00. The illness has left a debilitating scar on my health but also my family, marriage, finances and career. No wonder so many women with implants suffer from depression and even turn to suicide.

I co-founded The Breast Implant Victim’s Advocacy. It is a group of women with a VOICE, working hard to change the flawed regulation of implants. We at BIVA stand up for those harmed by silicone and saline breast implants. We are currently lobbying in Washington, D.C. for Ariel Grace’s Law (HR5403) with women from the EssureProblems Facebook page, and others harmed by inadequately tested medical devices.
Although the damage is done on my body, I do feel better since the explant surgery. I have hope that we are making a strong impact and so thankful for Diana Zuckerman and NCHR for all you have done.
Be your own health advocate, fight to be heard and never give up!

Chandra DeAlessandro
Breast Implant Victim Advocacy

Breast Implants, Self-Esteem, Quality of Life, and the Risk of Suicide

Diana Zuckerman, PhD, National Center for Health Research, Caitlin Kennedy, PhD, Mishka Terplan, MD, MPH, Women’s Health Issues: August 2016

Breast augmentation is one of the most common cosmetic surgery in the United States, and many women are encouraged to undergo breast augmentation to improve their lives, self-esteem, or relationships. It is therefore surprising that studies in the United States and Scandinavian countries have shown that suicide rates are higher for women with breast implants.  These studies raise a key question: Do breast implants increase the risk of suicide or do pre-existing mental health problems increase the likelihood of undergoing breast implant surgery and also increase suicide risk?

This article is the first to take a comprehensive look at implants and suicide, by considering information from studies measuring self-esteem, self-concept, mental health, and quality of life among women before and after getting breast implants.

Our 2016 review of all published studies of breast implants and suicide identified 52 articles, but only 7 studies that provided original data on suicide among women with breast implants. All 7 studies found that women with breast implants had much higher suicide rates when compared to women with similar demographic traits – at least double the rate of suicides.  The greatest increase was among postmenopausal women with breast implants, who were 12 times more likely to commit suicide than postmenopausal women without breast implants.  Mastectomy patients with breast implants, many of whom were also post-menopausal, were 10 times as likely to commit suicide compared to mastectomy patients without breast implants. These differences were statistically significant.

Some plastic surgeons and researchers have hypothesized that patients seeking cosmetic surgery have lower self-esteem or tend to be more depressed than other women before they undergo surgery, and that would explain the higher suicide rate among breast implant recipients. However, our analysis of the 7 studies found that other plastic surgery patients were less likely to commit suicide than breast augmentation patients.  The study also found that females who underwent other types of plastic surgery procedures had lower suicide rates than the general female population, when accounting for age and race.  Studies comparing women’s self-esteem, self-identity, and quality of life before and after getting implants also show that these several of these qualities were higher than average prior to breast implant surgery but lower two years after implant surgery.

In other words, the relatively healthy and confident women who get breast implants tend to be less healthy and less confident afterwards. And, they are more likely to commit suicide.  That is true whether they got implants for augmentation or for reconstruction after a mastectomy.

In conclusion, the scientific evidence suggests that breast implants may have risks to mental health. Although suicide among women with implants was below 1% in each of the 7 studies, the rates ranging from 0.24% to 0.68% are significantly higher statistically and clinically than rates for comparable women without breast implants.  And, with millions of women with breast implants, the consistent evidence that women with breast implants are more likely to commit suicide is reason to be very concerned.  The research suggests that women who feel depressed or have low self-esteem should never be encouraged to get breast implants.

The research illustrates the importance of valid and reliable mental health screening to identify women considering breast augmentation who are vulnerable to depression or suicide.  Breast implant surgery should not be considered a strategy to fix low self-esteem or depression. Long-term studies on breast implant patients and depression, anxiety, and self-esteem are needed to give us a better understanding about the impact of implant surgery on women’s mental health and chances of suicide.

Download the article as a pdf here.
Read the original article here.

Crystal Hefner Shares The Health Problems Breast Implants Can Pose

Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes: July 24, 2016.

Crystal Hefner, formerly Crystal Harris and the 30-year-old Playboy model and wife of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, announced the recent removal of her breast implants by […] sharing a post on Facebook that began, “My Breast Implants Slowly Poisoned Me.” She rattles off a litany of health problems that she says she suffered from the implants such as:

  • Intolerance to foods and beverages
  • Unexplained back pain
  • Constant neck and shoulder pain
  • Cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, memory loss)
  • Stunted hair growth
  • Incapacitating fatigue
  • Burning bladder pain
  • Low immunity
  • Recurring infections
  • Problems with thyroid and adrenals
  • Days  when she couldn’t get out of bed

She explains that at first she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and toxic mold, but then learned via social media that her symptoms resembled “breast implant illness.”

After visiting a breast implant illness website and Facebook group with almost 3,000 members, she realized that her symptoms matched. On June 15th, 2016, plastic surgeon Dr Lu-Jean Feng removed Hefner’s breast implants. […] Her Facebook post continues: ”Instantly I noticed my neck and shoulder pain was gone and I could breathe much better. I know I won’t feel 100% overnight. My implants took 8 years to make me this sick, so I know it will take time to feel better. I also have other illnesses to address, but with the toxic bags removed, my immune system can focus on what it needs to.” […]

Read the original article here.