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Analytical Chemistry

Dubious Breast Implant Study

Doubts now surround study claiming to have found high levels of platinum in women with silicone breast

by Mitch Jacoby
July 31, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 31

Analytical Chemistry editors have called into question a study published last spring that claims to have detected high levels of potentially harmful platinum in the tissues and body fluids of women exposed to silicone breast implants. The study authors, Ernest D. Lykissa and Susan V. M. Maharaj, implicated a platinum-based silicone cross-linking catalyst as the source of the metal, which they reported to have detected in unusually high oxidation states-as high as +6 (C&EN, April 17, page 11).

Upon publication of the study, silicone chemists raised questions regarding the team's ion chromatography methods. They noted, for example, that the highly oxidizing sample-preparation conditions and the absence of analytical standards in the study cast doubt on the team's ability to assign oxidation states accurately.

In an editorial (PDF format)Analytical Chemistry Editor Royce W. Murray and Associate Editor Catherine C. Fenselau write that the paper's results might be correct, but the presumption that the oxidation states of the platinum species can be identified correctly under the experimental conditions described in the paper "falls short of this journal's standards" (Anal. Chem. 2006, 78, 5233). The editors go on to urge the journal's readers to "use caution in evaluating the conclusions drawn in the paper."

The editorial, a pair of critical commentaries, and a news story (PDF format) that includes responses from the research team appear in the Aug. 1 issue of Analytical Chemistry.

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