New cancer fears in France over breast implants

PARIS (AFP) - France's national cancer institute said on Tuesday there was a "clearly established link" between a rare form of cancer and a certain type of breast implant, as the health minister sought to allay fears.

The national cancer institute (INCa) said there had been 18 cases of the rare disease - anaplastic large cell lymphoma - since 2011, linked to the silicone breast implant.

Given the rarity of the cases, the INCa said there was no need to recommend the removal of the implants.

"This complication presents very infrequently," the body said.

The country's health minister immediately sought to calm fears, with memories of faulty breast implants from the French firm PIP still fresh in the memory.

"We do not recommend that women carrying these implants have them removed," Marisol Touraine told reporters.

She urged women not to be "carried away by excessive worry" about the implants.

"Our vigilance is absolute," she said.

According to Francois Hebert, deputy head of the drugs agency ANSM, around 400,000 women carry breast implants in France - 80 per cent for aesthetic reasons and 20 per cent as a result of breast cancer.

French firm PIP sparked a global health scare in 2011, when plastic surgeons began reporting an unusual number of ruptures in their products.

The PIP implants were banned and the company eventually liquidated.