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PIP implant removal recommended

Tens of thousands of women with risky, French-made breast implants should have them removed at the state's expense, the country's health minister has recommended.

Xavier Bertrand said in a statement that such removals were "preventive" and not urgent.

While implants made by Poly Implant Protheses, or PIP, have not been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, the risk that they could rupture and leak a questionable type of silicone gel has been shown, he said.

He said: "As a preventive measure not of an urgent nature, we recommend that the removal of these implants, even those not showing signs of deterioration, be proposed."

The statement added that the costs of removal for French citizens would be footed by the country's national health care system.

Some 30,000 of women in France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries in Europe and South America have had implants made by PIP. Health authorities in those countries have been following the French decision closely and could make similar recommendations.

Women who have had their implants burst and leading French plastic surgeons had been urging the government to act. The death last month of a woman who had the implants and developed a rare cancer was a catalyst for public concern.

About 2,000 French women given pre-filled silicone gel implants made by PIP have filed legal complaints against the company, based in southern France. Investigators believe it saved one million euro (£832,000m) a year by using industrial silicone instead of more expensive silicone meant for medical use.

The French government ordered a halt to production of the implants last year and the company is being liquidated.

British health authorities say they see no reason so far to have the French-made implants systematically removed and insist there is not enough evidence of a link between silicone implants and cancer.

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