Bottom line: No quality studies have demonstrated an association between silicone breast implants and risk for developing autoimmune diseases. There is some evidence being collected by the FDA about a possible link between silicone breast implants and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that the FDA is currently studying.
Summary: Lipworth L, et al. Silicone breast implants and connective tissue disease: no association. Semin Immunopathol. 2011 May;33(3):287-94.
Review of epidemiologic studies. One large cohort study of female health professionals showed small increased risk of self-reported connective tissue disease in women with silicone breast implansts (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.08-1.41). Later the same research group followed up on self-reported cases to validate through medical records, with only 23% of the self-reported cases have a confirmed diagnosis.
Recent cohort study of over 10,000 women with silicone breast implants or who had had implants removed followed the women for mean of 13 years. The study found that compared to the general population, there was no significant difference in rates of connective tissue diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, dermato- and polymyositis, systemic sclerosis, SLE, and Sjögren’s syndrome.
The FDA reports that about 60 published cases of ALCL have been reported worldwide in women with breast implants. The association is considered because in these cases, the lymphoma is usually located in the region adjacent to the implant and because the vast majority of primary breast lymphomas in women without implants are B-cell phenotype, whereas ALCL is a T-cell lymphoma. The investigation is ongoing.
Breast implants and related methods of breast-modifying surgery: historical background. In: The Breast, 4th ed. [MDConsult]
Brief review of why the FDA temporarily restricted use of silicone breast implants in the US. There were concerns about possible association between silicone breast implants and development of autoimmune diseases. FDA restricted use until further study revealed that there was no conclusisve evidence that women with silicone breast implants had higher risk of developing autoimmune disease. Selected studies are discussed in the above review.