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Can breast implants cause autoimmune diseases? – my confession

I feel like this is a post I should have written long ago. It will probably be a little long, but I’m going to be disclosing a bit more of my personal journey with you, and it’s not easy for me to write.

 

Breast Implants Autoimmune Diseases Saline Breast Implants

My Story

 

Like most of you, my readers, I wasn’t born with an awareness of toxins and the necessity of avoiding them. When I was younger, I had the same attitude most people have, which is that if something is dangerous, companies wouldn’t use it in their products. They just wouldn’t. And that is how I lived for most of my life.

 

You have shared a lot of your personal struggles and journeys with me, and I’ve been privileged to read them. Many of you have gained an awareness of toxins because of brushes with cancer, autoimmune-related illness, and other issues. Some of our eyes have been opened slowly, others more quickly. For many of us, it has been a process. And I’m no different.

 

I want to talk with you about a mistake I made, more than a decade ago. I was young; I was not happy in my marriage; and I struggled, like so many women in this society, with body-image issues. So I made the decision to “enhance” my figure with breast implants, a decision I now regret.

 

At the time I did so, I was relatively new to this country. I was very naïve about the process. I had heard of organic food, but did not understand its importance. I had no knowledge of the 80,000 or so chemicals that are used in consumer goods, or that their health effects are virtually unknown and that many of them are unregulated. Like many people, I simply did not think critically about the health effects of the products I was using on a daily basis.

 

The decision to have the surgery itself was pretty emotional, and I simply did not invest sufficient time into determining the long-term health effects associated with breast implants. I trusted my plastic surgeon to warn me of any possible side effects. The only side effects he told me about were the risks any surgery with general anesthesia would have. After all, he said, they had recently switched from silicone to saline breast implants that were much safer, according to the surgeon, because in case of rupture, which, according to the surgeon, almost never happened, the saline would simply get absorbed by the body. Problem solved.

 

I recovered without complications and simply stopped thinking about the fact my body carried two silicone bags filled with saline liquid. I adopted them as a part of my body. Moreover, I was so happy to wear a size B bra that I intentionally blocked any information about health effects associated with breast implants – until recently, anyway.

 

Years passed. I got divorced. I met my husband. While we were dating, he introduced me to a lot of things, including organic food. He opened my eyes to the importance of avoiding chemicals in food.

 

On our first anniversary, I was hit by an SUV as I was walking in a crosswalk with the light. A driver was talking on his cell phone and didn’t see me. I bounced up onto the hood and ended up on the ground. Someone found my cell phone and called my husband, who took a cab to the scene and rode in the ambulance to the emergency room. I had some bleeding in my brain and remained in the hospital for four days, and off work for several months.

 

After the accident, I noticed that my stomach was aching a lot; I was worked up for just about everything. During this time, I read a lot about lots of different kinds of food, in an attempt to solve my pain. As a result of that research, I decided that I would eat only organic food as a possible way of allaying my symptoms (and avoiding a lot of other issues down the line). I was also receiving this advice from doctors and other healthcare providers as a possible solution. Ultimately, one of my doctors suggested that in the absence of anything else that would explain my symptoms, perhaps they were caused by a pinched nerve from the accident. I don’t know if that was the cause, but during this workup, I read a lot about toxins, pesticides and the organic food movement – all of which really opened my eyes.

 

During this workup, my doctors realized that I had something called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – a type of autoimmune disease. They said I can control it with medicine, but that I would have to take it the rest of my life. I never thought that it could be related to my breast implants.

 

Ultimately, my abdominal symptoms went away when I was pregnant with our son. But, I did develop a couple of other curious symptoms then. First, I was very itchy throughout my pregnancy. Also, my skin got darker, as if I were tan. After I gave birth, I immediately stopped being itchy. But my tan remained.

 

Fast forward a couple of years. As many of you know, I really started becoming passionate about avoiding toxins when I was pregnant and looking for products to use with my baby. As I learned more and more about toxins, I knew one day I would have to confront what I knew, deep down, to be the truth about breast implants, but it was a truth that candidly I was afraid to face. I was afraid to talk about them with my husband, even. I assumed he knew about them, but I was too shy to talk about them with him, and so I just buried my head in the sand – until recently, when I had no choice but to face my fears head-on. Here is what has happened.

 

Some of you know that about one year ago, I started to experience some alarming symptoms. My tan deepened. I became anxious, and started suffering anxiety attacks – something I am not sure I even believed in before they started happening to me, but believe me, they are very real. I was nauseous. I was fatigued. Ultimately, I went to the University of California San Francisco medical center, and was finally diagnosed with Addison’s Disease – where the adrenal glands stop working in one of several different ways I won’t bore you with. Addison’s is also an autoimmune disease.

 

The treatment for Addison’s is to take a certain steroid in certain doses that vary from person to person and day to day. Too much cortisol results in unpleasant symptoms; too little results in the same unpleasant symptoms (and can cause coma and death). So it has taken a bit of time, but I felt I had finally started to settle into the right regimen for my body. (And once I started taking the cortisol, I started losing my tan – darker skin is a classic symptom of Addison’s.)

 

It turns out that more and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune conditions these days. Doctors are trying to understand the causes of this phenomenon, but there is an emerging consensus that in many cases the cause may be associated with exposure to toxins.

 

In connection with my diagnosis, I have been pretty extensively worked up. I have had a number of different blood tests, and multiple tests over time. This year, I underwent five months of heavy metal detoxification, which was pretty unpleasant. I finished up this course in October.

 

Unfortunately, earlier this month, my symptoms resumed. And then I finally realized that I needed to be honest with myself and start investigating in earnest whether the breast implants may be affecting my health.

 

So there it is – my confession. I am not perfect, and I am sorry if any of you felt I was misleading you. When I first suspected I should do this research, I was pregnant with my son. Then I was breastfeeding, then we were trying to have another child, then I got very sick with Addison’s, etc. Now I am out of reasons not to do this important research.

 

Here is what I have found.

 

The Dangers of Breast Implants

 

When they were first being used, saline breast implants were considered safe. Now, they are not considered as safe as they were because doctors have found that bacteria can grow inside the implants. If they rupture and if the liquid contaminated with bacteria escapes, they can quickly make the woman very sick.

 

According to Susan Kolb, M.D., F.A.C.S., a plastic surgeon and the author of The Naked Truth About Breast Implants: From Harm to Healing, breast implants don’t even need to rupture, they can leak in small amounts without visibly deflating, making a woman sick (source).

 

Dr. Kolb has also said that if there is a leakage, saline breast implants may grow mold around the valves. Mold can produce a biotoxin that may suppress the immune system and thus make a woman prone to all kinds of infections.

 

This raises an interesting question – can breast implants cause autoimmune diseases such as my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Addison’s Disease?

 

The short answer is that nobody knows for sure. Despite the fact the first breast augmentation surgery was performed in 1962, very little is known about long-term health effects of breast implants. The short answer is that the link between silicone and autoimmunity remains controversial (Silicone and Autoimmunity, Hajdy, Steven D., European Journal of Clinical Investigation, Volume 41(2) – Feb 1, 2011).

 

According to my blood tests results, I might have chronic inflammatory response syndrome; however, it is hard to diagnose it because I already have an autoimmune condition and it is unclear what comes first. However, there is some evidence of the connection between silicone implant capsules and remote tissue inflammation (Restricted and Shared Patterns of TCR ß-chain Gene Expression in Silicone Breast Implant Capsules and Remote Sites of Tissue Inflammation, Terrance P. O’Hanlon, Journal of Autoimmunity, (2000) 14, 282-293).

 

In this study, elevate antinuclear antibodies were observed in people with silicone breast implants and suggested that there is a connection between silicone breast implants and autoimmunity.

 

And lastly, the FDA is currently collecting information about cases of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women with breast implants. Currently, the FDA is aware of 60 cases of ALCL in women with breast implants.

 

I can also say that there is a large community of women who believe that their implants caused autoimmune diseases. Are they right? Doctors don’t know for certain.

 

My Decision

 

I would rather be safe than sorry. I do not want to be a part of this human experiment. I do not want to have additional health risks so I can adhere to some standard of societal beauty that is wholly unrealistic. But since there is a chance, I want to do everything I can to be healthy again.

 

So, I have decided to have my breast implants “explanted.” I have done some research here, and have found that there is a group of doctors who have begun to specialize in this process. You can find out information about them here.

 

The surgery is scheduled for January 12, 2017.

 

Because I have Addison’s Disease, my body does not naturally produce cortisol, a hormone that literally keeps us alive on a daily basis. The body’s need for it goes up with stress, trauma, and illness. Since I have the disease, the success of the surgery will also depend on the exact right dosing of cortisol, without which I literally could die or go into a coma. Because of my adrenal insufficiency condition, the surgery will be done at a hospital with at least a one-day stay, since my endocrinologist has prescribed a 24-hour cortisol IV postoperatively.

 

This is another reason that I have been hesitant to do the research this past year – knowing that if the doctors get the cortisol dosing wrong, I literally could die from the explantation procedure. But this is now a risk I want to take because I feel it is currently my best chance to get well.

 

I am looking forward to reclaiming my natural body and love my body the way it was created. We all come in different shapes and forms and we are all beautiful in our ways. I now wholeheartedly believe that the fashion industry and beauty magazines should not dictate beauty, and I am sorry I succumbed to having the surgery in the first place.

 

As our family has adopted a non-toxic lifestyle, we have parted ways with a number of different things over time that used to be part of our way of life. Plastic spatulas and nonstick pans; petroleum mattresses and petroleum skin care products; fluoride in our water and Old Spice; all these have been banished from our house in turn as we learned of the dangers. And now the time has come to have something else literally surgically removed from our lives.

 

The Hunt Continues

 

According to conventional medicine, I am not supposed to be able to cure my autoimmune issues. However, I was able to resolve my Hashimoto’s to my conventional doctor’s satisfaction (and surprise); I am now, with his permission, no longer taking medication for it (although we are keeping an eye on it).

 

This surgery is another step in my goal of curing my Addison’s Disease – a lofty goal. So far this is what I have looked into:

 

  1. Exposure to heavy metals
  2. Exposure to toxic substances
  3. Exposure to biotoxins
  4. Food allergies
  5. Electromagnetic fields
  6. Infections/inflammations
  7. Vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  8. Stress management
  9. Exercise
  10. Leaky gut/gut health

 

And even if I don’t recover from Addison’s, I will be healthy in all other areas, so I can live a normal full life with the right amount of medicine. My belief that it is possible to recover from Addison’s is powered by the fact that I was able to reverse the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to the continued disbelief of conventional doctors.

 

And I am buoyed by my research that includes anecdotal evidence that explantation has led to a resolution of autoimmune conditions in some women.

 

If you have read this far, God bless you! I am sorry to have burdened you with my personal story, but my hope is to use this blog to try to dissuade others from making the same mistake I did. I hope people considering implants will find this post and see my experience as a cautionary tale. And I am not one to talk about things so personal, but feel strongly that if I can help spread the word, it is worth any personal embarrassment or shame I may feel.

 

Please feel free to share in the comments any information you might have about breast implants or your New Year resolution or anything else you feel like sharing. I’d love to hear from you. If nothing else, I will have something to read while I’m in the hospital.

 

To learn more:

The Naked Truth About Breast Implants: From Harm to Healing by Dr. Susan E. Kolb

Dr. Susan Kolb discusses saline breast implants

Silicone Injury: Memoir of a Life And of a Spiritual Journey by Hermitra Elantra Vedenetra

Absolutely Safe by Carol Ciancutti-Leyva

FDA on Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma connection with breast implants

 

To read about my health after the surgery, please visit here.

 

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62 thoughts on “Can breast implants cause autoimmune diseases? – my confession”

  1. Hello!
    Thank you for sharing your story. There are so many of us who did the same thing(s) that you describe in your personal story: following along, trusting those who are there nationally to ‘protect us’ regarding ingredients in our food, medicines, products we use in everyday life. Even in terms of our medical care- we have learned over time to take a more educated and directive view of our medical care, being shown that working with our Drs. instead of trusting them completely, is the best way towards our best health. Now that same assertive and educated attitude is extending to what you are doing, which is to learn about products in our lives and educating ourselves and others about toxins in medicines, products and foods in our daily lives. We can no longer afford to be ignorant of all of this- it is affecting us in real ways and we need to do this work! I appreciate knowing you, hearing from you, and the example you set to do this on our own level and in our own lives. Sharing this information with everyone is vital. Thank you for doing your part! Best of luck with your surgery, you will be receiving my prayers starting N-O-W. You will be fine. With love, Val

  2. I applauded you, thanks for sharing…no shame, you are a treasure and have helped me so much. Please rest assured your fans understand. Be safe, be well, and get healthy!

  3. Irina, I have so much respect for you in being courageous enough to share such a personal story and undergo surgery! You and your family are definitely in my prayers. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Lots of love coming your way!

  4. Irina, thank you for having the courage to talk about your condition. You can only go forward and YOU are. Because of you, I have chosen not to highlight my hair until I know if there is a safe product and method and I always look to you for my research. So you are doing great work as it is so hard to find what to use and not use. I am researching organic and safe mattresses and so confused if latex made from the sap of a rubber tree is safe. One day we will have proper labels if we all keep learning and sharing so thanks for sharing and you will do great during and after your surgery to get a foreign substance out of your body. Keep sharing your research as it is so Valuable. Thank You

    1. Hi, Kathy! Thank you so much! As for latex, the main thing is to make sure that latex is natural. And the way to do is to look for GOLS certification. They might say that it is natural but sometimes it is mixed with other undisclosed materials. With GOLS certification, you will have a piece of mind that you chose the safest latex. Let me know if you have more questions. ~Irina

  5. Praying that all goes smoothly for you every step of your surgery journey. I can understand your apprehension but also understand your wanting to go forward to get those things out. You can feel good about the fact that you have done so many positive things that have so greatly improved your health before taking this step. I can only think that your outcome will ultimately be very different and so much better than had you not made all those changes. We’ve had several health challenges in our family this past year too. I believe 2017 is going to bring good things!! Believe Big!! 🙂

  6. Dear Irina,

    You have nothing to confess or apologize for. Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us have made similar decisions. I have the 12th on my calendar and will be praying for you. Please keep us posted on your progress as soon as you are able. You will remain in my prayers until I hear you are joyfully back with your family.

    In light, Karen

    1. Dear Karen: your words mean so much to me. I am deeply touched by the love I receive. If all goes well, I should be home on Friday, January 13. And I will update the entry as soon as I am able to. I am fortunate to have you as part of this community. By the way, were you able to solve your hair frizz? ~Irina

  7. Thank you Irina for sharing your story with us. It wasn’t a burden to read at all! In fact, it makes me feel closer to you. It takes a lot of courage to share and be vulnerable. I want you to know all your hard work is greatly appreciated. As a reader of your site, you are my go-to source for all things safe and natural. Thank you so much! I can only imagine what you might be feeling as you wait for your surgery. I pray it goes well. Please keep us posted.

  8. Sharing your journey and educating your followers……….a blessing

    Wishing you all the best, and a big hug for many healthy years ahead.

    Thank you Irina. 🙂

  9. Someone told me recently to fight shame with everything I’ve got as it can be so damaging. I’m trying to take that to heart and appreciate your example. Thank you for your generous willingness to share your story.

  10. Dearest Irina — I’ve been sitting here awhile and had to give up on finding words that can say enough. By the time I got to “I do not want to be a part of this human experiment,” I was sobbing, and I’m not really much of a crier. Your story is so moving and the way you told it was perfect. You have nothing to apologize for. Thank you for your honesty and your courage, and as always, for the wonderful work you do. I will be one of the many holding you in the Light on the 12th and eagerly awaiting your next post, letting us all know you are OK and on your way to perfect health. I love you. Judy

  11. Dear Irina! I read your story and was very moved by your honesty and respect you even more for all you have been through and for your brave decision for surgery!!! I wish you a successful surgery and a good fast healthy recovery!!!!!

  12. Thank you for sharing. Your commitment to taking control of your health is admirable. We really are our own best advocates when it comes to our health. Wishing you all the best tomorrow, and a speedy recovery. I hope this gives you the results you’re seeking.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story!! It is eye opening! Good luck with the surgery and continued recovery!!

    Kindly,
    Rashelle

  14. Hi Irina,
    I hope it goes really well and that you recover quickly.
    Thank you for sharing your story, you are a brave person.
    Sending good wishes and prayers

  15. I am thankful for the amazing work you do! Your journey to health is powerful and helps others know they aren’t alone in their struggles to find health and happiness. Prayers for your surgery and to a speedy recovery!
    God Bless!

  16. Irina, your blog changed my life when I found it upon doing research for my first baby. You had such wonderful advice, and were able to give me easy, great choices for all my baby needs (and for my own!)! The hours of endless research could finally stop! I feel so much better knowing I am getting non-toxic products for my entire family, and living a much healthier life because of it. I am so sorry to hear all you have been through with your illness, and pray your surgery goes well. We all make decisions in life we may regret, but each step makes up who we are, and how we choose to handle it says so much about a person. You have faced this with strength and courage, and I am confident your strength will see you through, emerging even stronger. I wish I could be there to give you a big hug, so a virtual one will have to do. 🙂 I look forward to reading your next post! Hugs!

    1. Hi, Kira! It is a pleasure to hear from you again! I loved working with you, helping you find affordable non-toxic baby products. I hope everything has been going well with you and your beautiful family. Hugs, Irina

  17. Irina, thank you for the encouragement and support that you have offered to so many of us seeking to live a healthy lifestyle. Your honesty will enlighten others and set you free. Thank you. I personally want to thank you for your research on healthy options for restoring gray hair. I love Hairprint, and I thank you for the research that you did. I will pray for your surgery and recovery to good health. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.” ‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭27:9‬ ‭AMP‬‬

    1. Hi, Eve: thank you for your kind words. It is so good to hear from you. And I am glad that Hairprint has been working out for you. We are fortunate to have this product. Thank you for telling me! ~Irina

  18. Irina –
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best of luck with your operation and figuring out your solutions. As you know, I am a huge fan of the work that you do and the compassion that you put into it. Knowing your health history now makes all your hard work and compassion even more meaningful. Your work is so important. If there is a silver lining to all that you have gone through it is that you are helping so many other people find healthier lifestyles. Blessings to you.

  19. Irina
    Other people’s courage is only a burden when we are feeling cowardly ourselves. Thank you for sharing your story of finding the courage to face something so frightening, and thank you for finding the courage to share how much courage it took to face it. Wishing you an easy, safe surgery, and a well supported and speedy recovery.
    Theresa

  20. Irina, I hope the surgery went well. I am sending you love and hugs. Your sharing your story will really help raise awareness. You are incredible!

  21. You are so brave and strong to have suffered so much and still keep on serving others and carrying on the good work and message that you have. I appreciate you writing about this experience, especially since it is very personal. This is the best way to learn….from each other! Thanks again for all you do :). May you be blessed with a speedy recovery and new found health:)

  22. Irina,
    I had no idea this was going on for you. What a terribly frightening and horrible journey you have had to endure. I am so very sorry. At the same time, I’m so inspired by your courage and grace in facing these challenges head on and for seeking out a healthy solution for yourself and your precious family. It’s incredibly brave, generous and selfless of you to share your personal health story with your readership. You will no doubt help so many by doing so. I’m so very proud of you. I just saw on FB that the surgery went well which is wonderful news. I will keep you in my thoughts and heart as you continue to heal. May you go from strength to strength. Hugs — Justine

  23. Thank you Irina for sharing this! I’m doing the same! I’m scheduled in June for explant. After I found out the toxins that are in them I started researching products. I came across your page!! I was looking for hair color. I am a stylist and I have very dark brown hair. A lady at my plastic surgeons office asked me if I heard about what the ingredients in dark color could do to you. I have never heard this before. So today I’m ordering my hairprints!! Did you use dark on your hair? Thank you so much for the time and energy you put in to providing us all with this information:) prayers for a quick recovery Hugs!

      1. Irena,
        I hope your recovery has been smooth! I can’t wait till June to have my explant! I was wondering if there is a safe self tanner and also a sun screen that you would recommend?

        1. Thank you, Theresa! I am glad you are explanting! I don’t have sufficient information about self-tanners yet. As for sunscreens, the brand I trust is Badger’s. It will leave a whitening effect but that means it works. ~Irina

  24. Thanks for sharing your experience with implants Irina. I too have saline implants,and have for some time now been wanting to take them out. Mine are much older than yours, but fortunately I am in good health. Nevertheless, I will make that decision soon, after researching a good surgeon,that won’t convince me not to.
    I wish you well and hope all your health issues will be reversed with time.

  25. Thank you for your story! I am now starting to research explant surgery. I wish I lived near someone on the highly recommended list. Did you choose to travel out of state to get it done by one of those doctors, or did you use someone after interviewing them that was closer? I am SO glad to hear you are doing well. Thank you for the honesty and the information. It is truly helpful.

  26. What a wonderful journey towards truth in this day’s world. That so called ‘modern’ world and yet it is stripped off of the most fundemental lesson in life: Good health. All the while it is spiraling down towards mass production of toxins for profit. But what do you do with all that money when you realise society is now plagued with all your poison. Oh, sure.. massively produce medicine for profit. Right? I learn from your and many others’ journeys if you dont have appreciation you ultimately can lose your health in some way, because you will go on about trying to change what should be appreciated in order to finally appreciate it but for what it really isn’t. That is something to think about. You’ve been through stuff. I appreciate that. So I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened to you. ‘Cause God knows whether you’d be opening up all of our eyes the way you are every single day. Or whether you’d have been dead long before without all this knowledge and all the tragic reasons that led you to obtain it, leading us all who have learned from you into our own tiresome road to sickness, a seemingly common-place battle these days. We who learn from your researches could potentially educate others, so it keeps going on and on. That is good power. You’re one hero I should like to remember if and when my life goes down a tragic path some day and sometimes before it ever does.
    Sincerely, Wafa

  27. Hi..

    Wondering if you ever did your explant and if so, did your symptoms dissolve themselves ?

    Hoping your are healthy n healed.

    Thanks

  28. Thank you SO much for this info! I’ve been doing my own research for years trying to cure my Graves disease (autoimmune) and have currently put myself in remission for over 2yrs by taking Transfer Factor. Not willing to live life the way I was being forced to, I figured it would either make me better, or take me out of remission as I refused to give up my thyroid. I haven’t felt this FANTASTIC in years! I had saline implants put in 16 yrs ago, never had a problem with them and they still look remarkable so I never thought about replacing them. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broke right? Anyway, transfer factor literally retrains your immune sytem and levels it out. By all means I beg anyone with cancer or any autoimmune disease to Google it!

    1. Hi, Angela: Congratulations! How long did you take Transfer Factor for? Did you have symptoms? Even if saline implants do not give you any problems, they are still like ticking bombs. If they rapture, they can make you very sick. ~Irina

  29. Hello, I ran across your story trying to research this for a Really close friend who found out she has Addisons Disease. I mentioned the possibility that her implants may have something to do with all of these symptoms. She quickly dismissed the idea of that being the cause.
    My question to you is how are you feeling today? I hope you will respond . Thank you A Concerned friend🙏🏼😇🙏🏼

    1. Hi, Pamela: Welcome to my blog. I hope you will stick around. I feel much better. Thank you for asking. As you might know, Addison’s is life-threatening and can be a disabling condition. I lead a super active life on a very small dose. Normally, people can’t function on it. ~Irina

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