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Is the Door Shut on Many Claims Over Silicone Implants?.

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According to a press release issued by the IOM, however, the committee took into account the possibility that silicone breast implant patients are suffering from a nonspecific or atypical connective tissue disease. The researchers found no link between the implants and a "unique disease syndrome."

Angell, a longtime critic of the FDA, lay media, and legal response to unfounded claims of the danger of silicone breast implants, has a strong reaction to the argument that the studies conducted to date are not appropriate. "[The IOM report is] one of a series of authoritative, unbiased reports to look at this matter," Angell tells WebMD. "The British Department of Health did, the AMA did, the American College of Rheumatology, [and] Judge Pointer's national science panel. They all have said the same thing. But this is a very prestigious body. The report was thorough, comprehensive, authoritative. I think it ought to finally lay the matter to rest [scientifically]."

Stuart Bondurant, MD, IOM panel chair and dean emeritus of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said at the time of the report's unveiling "I don't think the committee expects this [report] to be the definitive and last word."

Zuckerman echoed that sentiment. In an article she wrote soon after the uproar quieted down, she said, "the number of studies is not as important as their quality. When well-designed research has studied larger numbers of patients who have had implants for a longer period of time, then we will have the answers that so many women are waiting for."

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