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They represent a $340 billion-per-year industry that’s expected to grow by more than 28 percent over the next four years… medical devices, those funky little hardware gadgets and other material apparatus, often implantable, that are designed to supplement or correct the damaged mechanics of the human body in some way. These tricks of the medical trade are widely regarded as lifesaving tools of modern, science-based medicine, but are they really everything they’re cracked up to be in terms of their long-term safety?
Many people who have them, or who know people who have them, are well aware of the fact that medical devices generally come with certain risks and potential complications. These include things like malfunction, breakdown, and the propensity for their various mechanical parts to induce chronic toxicity.
But what’s not widely known − and this was news to me, too, until fairly recently − is that many FDA-approved medical devices are known to be cancer-causing, even when used appropriately. And yet they are given to patients anyway.
It makes sense when you consider the fact that foreign objects and materials are coming into direct contact with internal tissues and remaining there indefinitely. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? I ask that question tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the answer is simple: a whole lot can go wrong. Not just at the site of contact but systemically, depending on the type of device and the materials from which it was made.
Simply put, the issue of cancer-causing medical devices is much more serious than many people realize. Because my mission in life is to help as many people as possible avoid cancer, it’s something that I strongly believe you need to know about in order to make smart medical decisions − especially if you’re considering the use of a medical device to help improve your quality of life.
FDA Routinely Approves Medical Devices with No Evidence of Safety
From the everyday to the obscure, medical devices of all types pose various degrees of cancer risk, many experts warn. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warnings about contact lenses, for instance, which are known to increase the risk of eye infections like uveitis, an inflammatory eye condition that’s been implicated in causing cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and ocular malignant melanoma.
Speaking of uveitis and eye inflammation, LASIK eye surgery poses similar risks, despite being lauded as a permanent solution to poor vision. The renowned Mayo Clinic warns that laser eye surgery can cause a host of health issues, including eye flap problems that leave surgically reshaped eyes prone to potentially cancer-causing infections. This is more than just a bit concerning, considering that LASIK eye surgeries have already been performed on more than 11 million people living in the United States alone since it was first unveiled as a “cure” for bad eyesight.
The medical device industry doesn’t like to talk about any of this because even mentioning the “C” word in association with their products would greatly detract from their bottom line. If people truly understood the risks associated with many of the most commonly used medical devices, they might think twice about getting them. The industry knows this, hence its position of silence on the matter.
How they get away with keeping this information a secret is largely due to malfeasance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is failing to properly vet the safety of medical devices before approving them − a direct violation of federal law. A report published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most moderate- to high-risk, FDA-approved medical devices lack the necessary safety data to even be on the market. This means it’s a gamble every time a person agrees to use one.
These Common Medical Devices Show Evidence of Carcinogenicity
The implications of this for public health are particularly noteworthy when considering the fact that more than a million-and-a-half new people living in the U.S. will develop cancer this year… many of them for supposedly “unknown” reasons. After looking into the matter myself, I’m convinced that medical devices are a major contributor to the current epidemic of cancer that’s gone largely unnoticed, and I want you and your family to know the truth.
There are hundreds of medical devices currently on the market that haven’t been adequately scrutinized for safety. But my focus here will be on the most common ones that you or a loved one may be considering as an option for correcting a particular medical condition. These also being some of the riskiest when it comes to their potential to cause cancer.
Artificial Eye Lenses. Earlier I touched on intraocular lenses as being inadvertently carcinogenic due to their propensity to cause eye inflammation in some patients. These same lenses are also inherently carcinogenic due to the plastic materials from which they’re made. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) lists various synthetic polymers like hydrophobic acrylic and hydrophilic acrylic as being among the primary materials used in artificial eye lenses, along with silicone.
These synthetic materials have poor biocompatibility with the body, meaning the body treats them as foreign invaders. A paper published in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery points to chronic inflammation as one of the markers of this bio-incompatibility, noting that the less biocompatible the lens, the more inflammatory the response. We know that inflammation is one of the driving forces behind cancer development.
Silicone is generally non-reactive and non-leaching and doesn’t pose the same estrogenic and endocrine-disrupting risks as plastics, so logically it’s the better choice for artificial eye lenses. Acrylic and other plastics, on the other hand, are best avoided for long-term health.
Bariatric Surgery. This common weight-loss procedure is often credited for decreasing patients’ risk of colorectal cancer, which often emerges as a result of a person being overweight. But a retrospective cohort study out of Sweden that looked at 77,000 obese patients found that those who had previously undergone a bariatric “stomach stapling” procedure were 60 percent more likely than those who hadn’t to develop colorectal cancer.
Gastric bypass surgery should be a last resort when all other weight-loss methods have failed. Even then it should be given very careful consideration under extreme caution. A safer alternative when diet and exercise aren’t enough is gastric band hypnosis, or a virtual gastric band, a form of hypnotherapy that’s helped some morbidly obese patients achieve breakthroughs without the need for invasive surgery.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (cardio-defibrillator or ICD). Largely considered to be an overutilized medical device (meaning it’s implanted into way too many people, a great number of whom don’t actually need it), an ICD is a small device that keeps track of a patient’s heart rate and helps to correct an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, as well protect against sudden cardiac death (SCD).
Studies show that not only are ICDs ineffective in many cases, they’re also risky to long-term health. A population-based cohort study using medical registries covering the entire Danish population revealed that ICD recipients had a slightly elevated overall risk of cancer, particularly in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD).
Some doctors will recommend that patients opt for a heart pacemaker rather than an ICD, but even pacemakers come with risks. An epidemiological study looking at a nationwide cohort of patients from Denmark found that pacemakers are associated with a “slight excess” risk of cancer overall, particularly multiple myeloma in men (an increase of 126 percent) and kidney cancer in women (an increase of 37 percent).
Depending on the type of arrhythmia from which a patient suffers, there are various natural alternatives to ICDs, pacemakers, and pharmaceutical drugs. These include berberine, the primary active ingredient in goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis); coenzyme Q10; and taurine.
Artificial Hip Implants. Implants of any kind, whether they be those replacing a hip, joint, or knee, pose varying degrees of cancer risk depending on the materials used. Studies show that orthopedic implants and their fixatives often contain carcinogenic metals like chromium, cobalt, nickel, beryllium, cadmium, zinc, iron, lead, titanium, and polymethylmethacrylate, as well as plastics like polyethylene, that can leach into bodily tissue over time, increasing one’s overall cancer risk.
A large cohort study out of Sweden that looked at more than 100,000 patients who had received hip replacements found that the implants were associated with a statistically significant increased risk of melanoma, multiple myeloma, as well as cancers of the prostate and bladder. The authors wrote that exposure of implant materials − what they described as “metallic ions and other particulate debris released through corrosion of the implant” − is a major risk factor for cancer.
“…we observed…a statistically significant excess of melanoma and prostate cancer and, after a latency of 15 years or more, of multiple myeloma and bladder cancer,” they highlighted.
The safest material option when it comes to hip implants are ceramic-on-ceramic varieties that avoid the use of metals and plastics. While a very small percentage of patients who opt for ceramic hip implants (roughly 1-2 percent) may experience occasional squeaking, ceramic is the best choice for hip implants. This is because it’s still regarded as being both strong and long-lasting and is the least toxic and most biocompatible implant option that won’t leach harmful chemicals into the body over time.
Knee Replacements. Like hip replacements, knee replacements come with a significant cancer risk that’s often not a part of the doctor-patient discussion. A 30-year follow-up study of patients who received knee replacements found that the surgery increases one’s risk of leukemia-type cancers by anywhere between 300-700 percent! This same study noted increased risks of other types of cancer as well, including melanoma and both breast and prostate cancers.
Spinal fusion implants are similarly high-risk, as the rod implants typically implanted as part of the procedure are known to release high levels of chromium into patients’ bodies, increasing their risk of developing reproductive problems and multiple types of cancer.
Metal Screws, Rods, Pins, and Discs. Serious injuries involving bone fractures that can’t fully heal on their own are often addressed by surgical procedures that utilize various bone reconstruction and spinal fusion hardware to put everything back in its proper place. But these devices, which are typically made out of metal alloys, can corrode and leach metallic ions into the body.
One study found that patients with stainless steel spinal instrumentations showed elevated levels of chromium and nickel in their blood serum. Such metals are associated with elevated risks of certain types of cancer. Chromium, for instance, having a direct correlation with elevated risk of lung cancer, and nickel linked to both lung and nasal cancers.
There really aren’t any viable options besides metal alloys and titanium for bone reconstruction hardware, other than to not get these implants in the first place, if at all possible. In some cases, there’s no other option, of course. But if you can avoid metal implants, your best bet is to do just that.
Recombinant bone morphogenic proteins (rBMP). Though not a medical device in the traditional sense, the use of genetically modified (GM) proteins to support active tissue regeneration in bone grafts is quickly becoming a premier medical device technology for promoting bone growth. rBMP is supposed to mimic the action of naturally occurring morphogenic proteins inside the body, but studies show that this isn’t actually the case.
At least one research team that conducted a multi-center, randomized controlled trial of patients with degenerative lumbar spine conditions who were given rBMP concluded that therapeutic doses of the substance significantly increased patients’ risk of developing new cancers compared to patients who received traditional autogenous bone grafts made from materials like demineralized bone or ceramic.
Breast Implants. This is the most common type of plastic surgery performed in the U.S. Breast implants are a popular cosmetic procedure for women looking to enhance their female anatomy, as well as a medical necessity for breast cancer survivors looking to reconstruct what was lost following a mastectomy. But breast implants aren’t without their share of risks, particularly when it comes to cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning earlier this year about a rare type of cancer that’s directly related to breast implants, and that’s becoming increasingly non-rare as reports continue to pour in about complications. The cancer is known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma characterized by abnormal growth of T-lymphocytes, or T-cells, as well as strong expression of a protein cytokine receptor known as CD30.
The FDA has long claimed that ALCL is extremely low risk in women who undergo breast augmentation surgery, but France’s National Cancer Institute says there is a “clear link” between silicone implants and ALCL. The link is so definitive that France’s regulatory body ANSM issued a warning about Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) in July 2016. It has given implant manufacturers 12 months to prove that their products are safe for use or face a ban. In a statement, the FDA said: “All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants may have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL.”
Back in 2013, researchers looking at a consortium of studies published over the last several decades similarly concluded that, based on the data available, women with breast implants have a 38 percent greater risk of dying from breast cancer than women without them.
The most common type of material used in breast implants is silicone, and the second is probably saline. Dr. Susan Kolb, MD, from the Plastikos Surgery Center and Millennium Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia, says that both materials are problematic, especially in the event that they rupture and leak bio-toxic fluid into the body. Smooth silicone implants, she says, are the safest bet if a patient opts for the use of artificial materials. There’s also a new augmentation method currently undergoing clinical review by the FDA called stem cell fat transfer that removes fat tissue from the thighs or hips and implants it into the breast to promote natural growth.
Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUDs). After falling out of favor in the late 1970s due to persistent problems with their safety, IUDs started coming back into vogue during the late 2000s as a supposedly safe way for women to avoid pregnancy. But a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the devices, which typically release hormones directly into a woman’s body, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
After evaluating more than 93,000 women between the ages of 30 and 49, all of whom had used the devices, Finnish researchers determined that intra-uterine systems that release levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of progesterone, increase a woman’s breast cancer risk by as much as 19 percent.
Common sense would dictate that the safest IUDs are those that utilize copper, silver, and/or gold rather than synthetic hormones or other pharmaceutical drugs. These two metals in particular have been shown to naturally inhibit sperm motility and prevent fertilization when in contact with cervical mucus, and all without damaging the endocrine system. But be warned that complications are still a possibility with any type of IUD.
Tubal Ligation. Also known as a tubectomy, this permanent form of birth control for women is where we derive the phrase “getting your tubes tied.” It involves surgically blocking, tying, or removing a woman’s fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. It’s the female equivalent of a vasectomy, and the medical community claims that it’s safe and comes with minimal risk of complications.
The tubal ligation procedure is also hailed for its supposed side effect of reducing a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. But the truth of the matter is that the procedure often results in women having to undergo a hysterectomy later on in life, which research shows actually increases a woman’s risk of developing vaginal cancer.
Power Morcellator. This surgical device, which is used to cut up tissue during a hysterectomy or a myomectomy, has been under increased scrutiny after the FDA issued a warning that it could be spreading cancer cells throughout the abdominal cavities of women. According to the agency, as many as 1 in 350 women could have hidden cancers lurking inside their body as a result of having been operated on with a power morcellator, a statistic that’s caused many women to think twice about procedures that involve its use.
Botox Injections. Aging is a difficult pill to swallow, which is why many people opt for injections of Clostridium botulinum, a toxin more popularly known as “Botox” that helps cosmetically remove the appearance of wrinkles by paralyzing the muscles that cause them. Botox injections have become an anti-aging trend, but research shows that the procedure can permanently damage muscular tissue, as well as harm the brain and central nervous system.
On the flip side, numerous studies suggest that botulinum may actually be effective in treating cancer, including one published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention which showed that the toxin causes breast cancer cells to commit suicide. An earlier study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science demonstrated general anti-tumor properties in botulinum − though injecting the bacteria into the face as Botox treatment is unlikely to produce such benefits.
Be Careful with Anything that Goes into Your Body
The moral of the story here is to think twice about any procedure that involves the invasive removal or altering of bodily tissue, or that requires having a doctor or surgeon implant foreign objects, a.k.a. medical devices, directly into the body. Unless such procedures are absolutely necessary for survival − which in many cases they aren’t − the long-term risks more than likely outweigh the benefits.
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