Breast implants can do more harm than good

by Staff

For millions of Americans, large breasts are part of what makes a woman beautiful.

Because of this, many small-breasted women resort to breast augmentation with silicone implants. This gives them the breast size they want, but what many of them fail to realize are the many dangers associated with the procedure.

Marva L. Smith, an administrative support assistant at San Diego State University, is working to inform women of what she refers to as “the breast implant tragedy.”

Smith, who could not be reached by telephone for comment, has said her concerns come from her own difficulties with breast implants.

In a column in a May 1996 issue of The Daily Aztec, she stressed the importance of educating women on the topic.

“Roughly 85 percent of surgeries are purely for cosmetic reasons,” she said.

She is also concerned about the distribution of literature and the advertisements for breast augmentation on campus.

Another of Smith’s concerns is the lack of financial support for victims suffering from complications of breast-augmentation surgery.

“Support groups for people affected by silicone toxicity have received little or no financial backing,” she said.

Smith has said it is very likely that women would not continue having the surgeries if they knew the complications.

In a recent letter to SDSU Personnel Services, she argued that silicone and saline breast implants have never been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as approved products in the United States.

She also said that, in 1992, a moratorium was called on the implants until more information could be gathered.

At that time, David Kessler, M.D., who declared the moratorium, said, “We know more about the lifespan of automobile tires than we do about the longevity of breast implants.”

According to Silicone Support, a nonprofit organization for women who have had difficulties with the surgery, the implants contain more than 30 chemicals that are harmful when leaked into the human body.

Until the 1990s, women were told by medical experts that the implants were safe, Smith said. So, Smith said, there is a question as to whether medical experts can be trusted to tell the truth at all.

According to Marva L. Smith (see story to the left), the following are complications associated with silicone and saline implants and the number of people out of 100 who have experienced each of them:



Muscle aches and pains 95

Morning stiffness91

Joint pain89

Memory problems81

Numbness 81


Dry eyes, dry mouth, dry vagina

(Sicca Complex)74

Vision problems72



Gel phenomena68

Loss of balance 63

Shortness of breath63

Rash 63

Joint swelling62

Enlarged lymph nodes58

Raynaud’s phenomena58



Swallowing problems52

Low-grade fever52

Nausea 48

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