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Research links rare cancer to breast implants, but Health Canada says no safety advisory is needed

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At age 44 and after two kids, Terri McGregor knew she wanted to give herself a gift.

“I simply wanted to restore my breasts to what they were before having children — that’s it,” said the North Bay, Ont., woman.

McGregor’s surgeon recommended a Biocell textured implant, made by Allergan, saying that the implant’s textured surface — similar to very fine sandpaper — better adheres to the chest tissue and increases stability.

For six years, McGregor lived what she calls her “honeymoon phase” with her implants. “I felt beautiful and I felt good — I had no problems,” she said.

Then in 2015, after she turned 50, McGregor went for her first routine mammogram. The examination caused both her implants to rupture.

She needed to undergo a replacement surgery.

“When they opened me up, the silicone gel was like Jello in my chest. It had to be mopped up, flushed out,” she recalled.

Her problems were just beginning.

Little-known cancer

During McGregor’s operation, the surgeon removed the ruptured implants and also her capsules, a layer of scar tissue that forms around an implant after it is placed.

One of those capsules had an unusual appearance.

“There were three tumours measuring about five centimetres each,” she said. “You could see the cancer with a naked eye.”

The remains of McGregor’s ruptured breast implants are shown after her replacement surgery in 2015. (Terri McGregor)

McGregor had developed a rare form of cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.

Health Canada estimates that one in 12,000 women with textured implants will develop BIA-ALCL, noting an occurrence rate of one case per 24,177 textured implants. Other studies around the world vary, putting the occurrence rate at anywhere from one in 1,000 women to one in 30,000.

Globally, plastic surgeons have identified 615 cases of BIA-ALCL, including 16 deaths.

BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer, but rather a type of lymphoma that often appears as a build-up of fluid between the implant and the tissue that surrounds it.

McGregor’s diagnosis was bleak: The cancer had spread from her capsule to her lymph nodes and into her intestine and abdomen.

She ultimately underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, but her cancer continued to grow.

Doctors told her she only had a few months to live.

“It was surreal; my breast implants were going to kill me,” she said. “I started putting my affairs in order, to prepare myself to die.”

Allergan acknowledges ‘inherent risks’

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was the first agency in the world to identify a link between breast implants and cancer back in 2011. At the time, it said 34 cases had been recorded, with the first case dating back to 1997.

By 2015, when McGregor received her diagnosis, 140 cases had been identified worldwide, including a dozen in Canada. All of the Canadian cases were linked to the Biocell textured implants made by Allergan — the same type of implant McGregor had received.

But she said she was never told about the risk of developing BIA-ALCL.

“I drive a Chevy, and when my truck has some kind of warning or alert, I get a letter from General Motors that says: ‘Please take your vehicle to the dealership, you may have a problem,'” McGregor said.  

“So, why is it that General Motors will tell me if there’s a problem with my truck, but I’m not told if there’s a potential problem with a product that’s in my body?”

‘I started putting my affairs in order, to prepare myself to die,’ McGregor says of her feelings after she was told her cancer had spread from the scar tissue around her implant to her lymph nodes and into her intestine and abdomen. (Terri McGregor)

Last year, McGregor filed a civil lawsuit against Allergan, alleging that the manufacturer “did not fully and clearly” inform her of “all the dangers inherent in the use of its products that it knew or ought to have known.”

In the suit, McGregor also alleges that had she been made aware of the cancer risk after undergoing her breast augmentation, she would have “taken steps to have the implants removed.”

In a statement of defence, Allergan said that while breast implantation carries “certain inherent risks,” it was not negligent in the “manufacture, design, development, quality control or testing” of McGregor’s implants.

The lawsuit is still before the court, and none of the allegations have been proven. 

A poorly documented problem

On its website, Health Canada says only five Canadian cases of BIA-ALCL have been reported to the agency by manufacturers in the last 10 years.

However, in the U.S., where medical device reports are made public, a database lists 20 cases of BIA-ALCL reported in Canada.

The discrepancy suggests that Allergan reports the Canadian cases to the FDA in the U.S., but that same information does not reach Health Canada.

In a brief statement to CBC News, Allergan said the safety of its products is supported by a large number of studies and more than a decade of clinical use in the United States and Canada. Allergan also said patient safety is a priority for the company.

Two Canadian plastic surgeons — Peter Lennox and Mitchell Brown — have also been compiling data from colleagues across the country and have identified 25 women in Canada with BIA-ALCL. Of those 25 confirmed cases, they found 23 had Biocell implants.

When asked about the differences in these numbers, Health Canada said it was made aware of the 25 surgeon-identified cases this past summer, and it is reviewing each case. The agency said it will publish an update once that review is complete.

A wedding and an experimental treatment

Just a few weeks after being told she was going to die, Terri decided to get married.

“I look back at my wedding photos today, and I just think, ‘What a shame that these photos have so much sadness attached to them.'”

Shortly after her wedding, McGregor’s doctors managed to get her access to an experimental drug called Brentuximab, a treatment only available to those whose chemotherapy has failed.

‘I look back at my wedding photos today, and I just think: What a shame that these photos have so much sadness attached to them,’ McGregor says. She married just weeks after she got her cancer diagnosis. (Terri McGregor)

After four doses of the drug, McGregor’s cancer is today completely gone.

Earlier this month, Brentuximab was approved by the FDA as a first-line treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

For the past two years, McGregor has been urging Health Canada to require manufacturers to send safety advisories to all women with textured breast implants, in order to better inform them of the cancer risk.

“Women with textured implants in Canada deserve a letter — not to alarm them, but to tell them they need to be on the lookout for symptoms of cancer,” she said.

Health Canada told Radio-Canada it currently has no plans to require such an advisory, saying it believes there is enough safety information about the risk of BIA-ALCL on its website and in the documentation provided by implant manufacturers.

“Health Canada representatives have told me that they cannot tell manufacturers what to do. I say to them, ‘Why not? You approved their products … Why can’t you tell them what to do? You’re the regulator,'” said McGregor.

Earlier this week, France became the first country to advise its physicians to switch to smooth-surfaced breast implants rather than the textured implants.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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