The editors of a journal that published a study linking silicone breast implants with higher than normal levels of platinum in the body have urged caution over findings.
The editors of a journal that published a study linking silicone breast implants with higher than normal levels of platinum in the body have urged caution when interpreting the findings.
The results of the study, published in May this year, are ’probably flawed’, according to the editors of Analytical Chemistry. The authors of the study reported that women who had received breast implants showed significantly higher levels of platinum in samples of urine, hair, nails and breast milk than woman who had not had implants.
Platinum is used as a catalyst in the production of the silicone gel used in implants, so finding traces of the metal was unsurprising. The alarming twist was that the platinum found was not inert but was in an oxidised, highly reactive state.
The study, funded by the organisation Chemically Associated Neurological Disorders (Cando) in Texas, USA, pointed to previous studies linking these reactive platinum salts with health problems including dermatitis, asthma and carcinogenicity.
The methodology of the study, including the limited sample size of 23 women with just five controls, has been severely criticised. Its publication sparked angry reaction from many chemists, including Michael Brook from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, who has served as a consultant for a breast implant manufacturer. His letter to the editor of Analytical Chemistry was published in June.
Brook pointed out a series of flaws in the design of the study, including the fact that the evidence for the various oxidation states of platinum identified by ion chromatography was unconvincing since no standard samples were shown against the peaks that were observed.
The journal editor, Royce Murray, and associate editor Catherine Fenselau, published an editorial this month conceding that the publication and the media storm it caused had contributed to a drop in the public trust in science.
- E D Lykissa and S V M Maharaj. Anal. Chem., 2006, 78, 2925
- M A Brook. Anal. Chem., 2006, (Doi: 10.1021/ac060779gCCC)
- R W Murray and C C Fenselau. Anal Chem., 2006, 78, 5233