Are breast implants risky?

In response to some doctors who claim that daycare centers help children build up resistance to disease, pediatrician Stanley Schuman of the Medical University of South Carolina says, "A peck of dirt isn't better than a speck. If a lot of infection is better for the immune system, why not send kids to Cairo?"

Harvard child psychiatrist Robert Coles says, "It's sad that doctors can't mobilize to protect children. I'd sooner lose a million dollars than turn my baby over to a daycare center. A child under two doesn't belong in a center."

Some physicians admit——privately——that while they believe daycare risks are too high for tots, they also support women's liberation and therefore, they mute their objections.

The most interesting, although not exactly altruistic, reaction comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Recognizing that some two million children are believed to be in daycare centers, the AAP "urges its members to become consultants to the centers." In other words, rather than fighting for elimination of these disease—ridden warehouses for infants, doctors might as well cast aside their scruples and go where the action is.

What are the risks of breast implants? Do they prevent detection of lumps in the breast, if they should someday occur? Have they been linked with causing breast cancer or any other problems? Has anyone projected the long—term hazards of implants? I know they have only been done a few years, so I wonder whether anyone has reached age 70, for example, without any major problems resulting from implants.

I am 30 years old, and I wouldn't like to shorten my life knowingly for cosmetic reasons. But I am very flat—chested, and I'd like to look womanly rather than boyish. Where can I go to find answers to my questions?——J.T.

When doctors were forced to give up liquid silicone breast injections because of the 60 percent complication rate associated with their use (infection, deformities, excessive hardness, painful and disfiguring scars, and emotional difficulties), they turned instead to silicone implants in bags or "envelopes," which they claim are perfectly safe. Of course, they used to make that same claim about the liquid silicone. Their haste to turn to the newer implants is in line with Mendelsohn's law that, once a treatment is shown to be dangerous, always rush to a newer one whose side effects are not yet known.

Since there have been so few studies to answer the questions you properly raise, perhaps it's time for you to start your own research before you submit to this surgery.

Go to a plastic surgeon and ask him for published scientific studies which address your concerns about implants and cancer. If he tells you that there are no such studies, check up on him by going to a medical library and asking the librarian to conduct a literature search.

The People's Doctor Newsletter P.O. Box 982 Evanston,lHinom 60204

Published monthly. Subscription rate: $24.00 annually.

Robert S. Mendelsohn, MD, Editor Vera Chatz, Managing Editor

© The People's Doctor Newsletter, lnc.