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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
EU may crack down on breast implants
Breast implant
Call for legislation on breast implants
Legislation governing the health and safety of breast implants is to be considered by the European Commission.

The move comes after a five year campaign by a Euro-MP to raise awareness of the potential dangers of silicone implants.

This does need looking at with a view to regulations

Bill Miller, MEP
In Britain each year, 8,000 women seek the cosmetic operation.

One American study showed that nearly 70% of all silicone implants ruptured within 10 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as the contents leaked within the body.

It has been alleged that implants sometimes cause tiredness, weakness, intermittent fever and muscle aches and pains.

Bill Miller, Glasgow Labour MEP, presented a petition to the Commission two years ago with the names of thousands of concerned women, but it was rejected.

Now, following talks on Tuesday at the European Parliament's petitions committee, a Commission observer has agreed to look at EU-wide recommendations, said Mr Miller.

Clear commitment

Mr Miller told BBC News Online: "There was a clear commitment to come back within six months with legislation to introduce pan-European supervision, surveillance and monitoring."

He wants national registers of every operation carried out in each of the EU's 15 member states, with women being given advice prior to the surgery by someone other than the surgeon involved.

Large-scale studies should also be done to establish the health risks of implants, he said.

Mr Miller added: "If you ask the women who have subsequently suffered, they all say they wouldn't have gone through it, if they knew the consequences of it.

"One of the problems has been that we don't know how many women have gone through this, because many of the operations are done privately."

Surgeons carrying out operations inappropriately or causing harm should be struck off their national medical registers, Mr Miller said.

Though the petition did not impress officials two years ago, the petitions committee ordered an initial study, and - following Tuesday's meeting - has now expressed the view that a silicone implant ban cannot be ruled out.

A 1998 independent report ordered by Health Minister Baroness Jay in the UK found no scientific evidence to link silicone implants with immune system problems or conditions such as arthritis.

But a national register of operations was set up and a cooling-off period between consultation and commitment to treatment recommended so women could change their minds.

Vicki Allanach, women's health adviser to the Royal College of Nursing, said she welcomed the EU move.

She added: "The issue is that many of these operations are done in the private sector.

"We would want to make sure that women, if they go through with this operation, are informed and know about any risks or benefits."

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08 Mar 99 | Health
Breast implants withdrawn
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