After assurance from breast implant makers that concerns about silicone leaks were a thing of the past, more than 10 million women worldwide have received silicone breast implants in the past decade. However, a growing body of research — supported by increased symptom reporting by women —links silicone breast implants to autoimmune disorders and a rare form of immune cancer.
Silicone breast implants linked to autoimmune disease
Doctors commonly advise potential breast implant candidates that the risks are minimal, yet multiple recent studies indicate otherwise.
A recent study at the University of Alberta comparing nearly 25,000 women with breast implants to nearly 100,000 without them confirmed that nearly one in four implant recipients is at risk of developing an autoimmune disorder.
The risk for women with breast implants developing an autoimmune disease is 45 percent higher than for those without implants.
While former studies on the topic have been criticized because they were based on self-reporting by subjects, this study used doctor-based diagnoses to confirm results.
Previous research has also found surgical mesh implants used for gynecological or hernia repair may be linked to autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Additionally, patients with allergies prior to the procedure were significantly worse afterward.
In the Alberta study, the strongest links were shown between silicone implants and these autoimmune conditions:
Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder of the salivary and tear glands.
Sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disorder of the lung, skin and lymph nodes.
Systemic sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder of the connective tissue affecting the skin, arteries, and visceral organs such as lungs and kidneys.
The theory behind these findings is that foreign material of the mesh and silicone implants causes an activation of the immune system. The body continues to fight the “invader” and over time autoimmunity develops.
Emerging form of breast implant-related cancer on the rise
Individuals with breast implants are also at risk of developing breast implant large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer but a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
In most cases BIA-ALCL is found in fluid and scar tissue near the implant, however there are cases where it spreads throughout the body.
The FDA states, “At this time, most data suggest that BIA-ALCL occurs more frequently following implantation of breast implants with textured surfaces rather than those with smooth surfaces.”
Plastic surgeons have identified 615 cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide with the disease occurring at higher rates among women with textured implants. French authorities have recommended against the use of textured implants due to the cancer risk.
At present, however, the risks are difficult to determine due to significant limitations in world-wide reporting and lack of data.
Lax reporting rules at fault for lack of patient awareness
Prior to 2017 the FDA allowed breast implant companies to report breast implant injuries as routine events that did not require public disclosure. This effectively kept the information from the public and may have skewed opinions on the safety of using them.
In 2017 reporting rules were changed and reports of injuries soared. At the current rate, they are slated to increase more than 20-fold in the last two years from the previous two-year period.
According to an ICIJ analysis of FDA data, after the rule change the number of suspected breast implant injuries skyrocketed from 200 a year to more than 4,500 in 2017 alone.
In just the first half of 2018, that number almost doubled to more than 8,000 filed reports.
The increase in reports doesn’t mean implants are suddenly going bad but that they may never have been as safe as patients were told in the first place.
The FDA has acknowledged a “transparency issue” regarding the undisclosed injury reports and that the increase in numbers reflected the change in reporting rules.
Changing the system to better protect breast implant recipients
The FDA warns that as many as one in five women who receive breast implants will get them removed within a decade due to complications such as rupture, deflation, and painful contraction of scar tissue around the implant, but currently there is no warning about autoimmunity.
The good news is that in response to the new information, the FDA and agencies around the world acknowledge that more research needs to be done to determine the autoimmune and cancer risks of implants.
While current studies do not prove breast implants cause these diseases, they do show that women with the implants suffer them at significantly higher rates than women without implants.
It’s proposed that bacterial infection of a biofilm that surrounds the implants is the likely cause of implant-related illness, including BIA-ALCL.
Patient advocates propose rules requiring breast implants to be sold with “black box” label warnings, which are reserved for life-threatening and other serious risks.
Undoubtedly, it will take much larger and longer studies to root out the details and bring about protective actions, and in the meantime, doctors and patients need to have deeper conversations about the benefits and risks of silicone breast implants.
In functional medicine we look at diet and lifestyle strategies to prevent or reverse disease, calm inflammation, and slow the aging process. However, other overlooked but extremely important aspects to your health are your general happiness, well-being, and attitude. Science shows happiness and positivity are correlated with better health. If you are not naturally happy, not to worry, simply putting forth small and regular efforts in the direction of happiness, such as writing in a gratitude journal, has been shown to improve health.
In what is thus far the most comprehensive study on what makes people happy, researchers looked at the lives of Harvard graduates, blue-collar workers, and women spanning almost a decade. From that data, they found six common themes that ran through the lives of the happiest lifelong subjects. If you would like to meet with Dr. Celaya to discuss your issue, schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION.
1. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Researchers found those with lifelong smoking and alcohol habits were unhappier than those who abstained. Among the study subjects, not smoking was the most important factor in healthy aging.
Likewise, the study showed that alcohol robbed people of happiness and sabotaged their relationships (healthy relationships are one of the six factors of happiness).
In functional medicine we know smoking and regular alcohol consumption make it hard to be healthy and happy for other reasons. Smoking robs your brain of oxygen, degenerating it more quickly. This has an effect not only on your brain function, personality and mood, but also on the health of your body. Regular alcohol consumption has also been shown to more quickly degenerate the brain and promote leaky gut and inflammation.
2. A college education. Despite income, social class, or IQ, college-educated research subjects were happier in the long run. Those with higher education tended to take better care of their health and avoid destructive habits like smoking and drinking. Exercising your intellectual curiosity is also good for the brain at any age and despite your education.
3. A happy childhood. Ok, this one is unfair for a lot of people. Feeling loved by one’s mother was a bigger predictor of lifelong happiness despite income or IQ. Coping well with adolescence was another predictor. But not to worry if your childhood has been something only from which to recover. Caring, loving friendships and relationships have been shown to compensate for damaging childhoods, and those are factors you can develop through self-work.
4. Good relationships. Mutually heathy, loving, and supportive relationships were found to be fundamental to happiness across all the study subjects’ lives. This includes continually widening your social circles so that if some friends fall away new ones to fill their place.
5. Good coping skills. No one is spared from bad stuff happening. However, happier people are more resilient and better able to cope with hardship. This can be a learned skill, even if you need a therapist’s help. Coping skills include altruism, creating good outcomes out of bad situations, staying focused on the bright side, and keeping a sense of humor.
6. Giving back. The happiest study subjects intuitively followed a path that spiritual traditions have espoused for millennia — happiness is found through service. As they matured, the study subjects who served in building community and relationships thrived best. This includes mentoring, coaching, consulting, and otherwise selflessly sharing the fruits of well-earned wisdom.
Sometimes it can be difficult to “practice happiness” when we feel terrible. One of the most rewarding aspects to a functional medicine recovery journey is a boon to your general mood, well-being, and sense of love. Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION to find out how.
Entrepreneurs face countless problems with money, partners, employees, failure, and never-ending uncertainty. The physical, mental, and emotional consequences can take their toll.
According to researchers, people who own their own businesses tend to be passionate people in the best and worst ways and are more prone to:
Sense of worthlessness
Loss of motivation
Entrepreneurs’ burdens are doubled by the obligation they feel to keep their problems to themselves.
Overwork and poor self-care: a recipe for disabling exhaustion
Researchers also suggest that entrepreneurs struggle with hypomania — a milder version of mania seen in 5 to 10 percent of Americans. This makes them prone to overworking.
Business owners tend to dive into their projects and succumb to poor diet, lack of sleep, not enough social support, and minimal exercise.
These habits make them less resilient emotionally and physically and more prone to health consequences.
Self-care as the foundation for business success
Though running a business or launching a startup is full of stress, you can still support your resilience, health, and energy.
Find emotional support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. See a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, PTSD, or depression.
Make time for friends and family. Research shows social connections improve physical health, psychological well-being, and longevity.
Get regular, adequate sleep. According to the CDC, adults who average fewer than seven hours sleep per night are more likely to report chronic health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, asthma, SOPD, arthritis, depression, diabetes, and dementia.
Exercise regularly. Moderate daily exercise helps reduce stress, improve mood, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, manage weight, and support good gut bacteria for better brain function.
Exercise should leave you feeling energized and refreshed. If you exercise and feel exhausted, you over-did it.
Take a digital sabbath. Unplug for an hour every day or a full day on the weekend. It does wonders for your mental and emotional health, and it makes room for real-time social connections that further support your health.
Travel less. When we are on the road — or in an airplane — we face irregular schedules, poor diet, and sleep deprivation. When possible, avoid travel during times of stress.
Schedule time off. Create regularly scheduled time where you have absolutely no commitments, not even wrangling the kids at the playground. Make a day solely for you and only do what brings you joy and rejuvenation.
Support your gut health for good mental health. Our gut microbiome — the community of bacteria present in the digestive tract — is innately tied to many aspects of our health, from energy level to mood and brain function.
An anti-inflammatory diet will help support gut health and your stress resilience.
Eating plentiful and varied produce (with a minimum of fruit to avoid spiking blood sugar) is one of the best ways to support healthy gut bacteria. Aim for five to seven servings per day.
Support your adrenal glands. The health of our adrenal glands can make the difference between being energetic and being burned out.
Adrenal adaptogens, phosphatidylserine, and plenty of sleep are ways to support your adrenals.
Avoid junk food and excess sugar. These items put the adrenal glands into overdrive, draining them of their reserves.
When you support your health your energy increases, your mental focus improves, you become more efficient, and you are better able to handle the chaos that running a business requires.
If you need support in any of these areas, contact my office for more information.
Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients we can’t get enough of from food. Our bodies are designed to make vitamin D from sunlight, yet modern life has made that difficult. The result is a worldwide 50 percent deficiency in vitamin D, even in sunny locations.
Why we can’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin
While some foods contain vitamin D, our main source is supposed to be sun exposure and we synthesize it using cholesterol.
However, certain factors stand in the way:
Reduced sun exposure. We spend far fewer hours outside than our ancestors and slather on sunscreen when we are outside. People with dark skin or who live farther north have even less ability to make vitamin D from sunlight.
Limited diet. Most people don’t eat the foods that contain more vitamin D, such as organ meats, salmon and fish liver oil, and egg yolks. Two foods fortified with vitamin D — dairy (a common immune reactive food) and breakfast cereals (gluten and grains).
Gut inflammation and fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. When the gut is inflamed due to leaky gut and other inflammatory gut disorders, fat absorption is compromised and your vitamin D levels suffer.
Stress. High cortisol levels from chronic stress can deplete vitamin D levels.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include:
Muscle, joint and bone pain
Brittle or soft bones
Suppressed immune system
What vitamin D does for you
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and along with thyroid hormone, is one of the two hormones every cell in your body needs. It regulates hundreds of different pathways throughout the body.
Bone density. Vitamin D has long been known to play a role in preventing breakdown of bones and increasing the strength of the skeletal system.
Mood regulation. Low vitamin D is linked to a 14 percent increase depression and a 50 percent increase in suicide rates. Increasing vitamin D intake can help improve anxiety and depression.
Brain health. Vitamin D’s biologically active form has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques common to Alzheimer’s Disease. Associations have also been noted between low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and dementia.
Reduced cancer risk. Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with lower rates of cancers of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and pancreas.
Sleep quality. Adequate vitamin D is associated with improved sleep.
Immune regulation. Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting regulatory T cells, which decide whether to dampen or promote inflammation in the body.
This is particularly important in dampening autoimmunity, when the immune system attacks body tissue.
Studies show more than 90 percent of those with autoimmunity have a genetic defect that promotes vitamin D deficiency.
A common thread in all chronic illnesses, inflammation is shown to be reduced by adequate vitamin D levels.
Ways to boost vitamin D
Sunshine. Get 20 to 60 minutes of sun on your skin per day, depending on your skin tone and latitude. The more skin exposed, the more D you produce.
Food sources. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks in your diet.
Supplementation. Vitamin D exists in two forms, D2 and D3.
While vitamin D2 is commonly seen on mainstream vitamin labels, vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising vitamin D levels in the body.
Current mainstream dosage guidelines for vitamin D are based solely on maintaining proper bone density and not preventing chronic health conditions.
Since vitamin D is fat soluble, its recommended to take it in an oil-based soft gel capsule or liquid form with a meal that includes fat.
For autoimmune management, doses of vitamin D can range from 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. Some people take higher doses if their genetics hamper absorption. It’s best to test your levels every three to six months.
Emulsified vitamin D
Emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enhances absorption and helps prevent toxicity at higher doses.
Support fat metabolism with digestive enzymes
If you have leaky gut, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or have had your gall bladder removed, your ability to absorb fat may be compromised. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, make sure your body can absorb it by adding digestive enzymes to your daily regimen.
Have you ever wanted to know everything there is to know about your thyroid? This 7-part video series will cover thyroid lab testing, nutrition and infections that affect the thyroid, toxins, thyroid hormone conversion, lifestyle, and adrenal interplay.