My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Monday, December 22, 2003

Powerful carcinogen

>> Honolulu

Dr. Bill Miller spoke for an hour, but within a few minutes Cruz MacKenzie realized that this was more than just one column. A series, maybe. Cruz was so engrossed, it was the first full hour in more than a week that he didn't have even one thought related to the disappearance of Daren Guy. A good hour it was. A few highlights from his notes:

>> Dr. Williams is an allergist. "I study the immune system and its breakdowns." He stumbled onto silicone poisoning while comparing records of three women who came to him with similar symptoms, which were not explained in any medical literature. "The only connection was that had each received silicone breast implants seven to 12 years previous."

>> "Silicone, we know, is a powerful carcinogen. It directly attacks the immune system."

>> About 4 million women have received silicone breast implants in the U.S., more than 25,000 in Hawaii.

>> "Sooner or later, all implants break or leak. It's not a matter of if, but when. It can be from a direct blow, either from a car accident or from domestic violence. I've even heard of them bursting during arduous love-making. But much of it is just normal wear and tear, so to speak."

>> Symptoms of silicone poisoning are "like a lot of things, but not exactly like anything else: Headaches, profuse sweating for no reason, arthritic symptoms, lack of energy, eventually a leathering of the skin and all internal organs, and that's what proves fatal. The organs just leather up and quit."

>> There are two tests that can be done to determine silicone toxicity of the blood.

>> Treatment: It's expensive. Medical insurance won't cover it, nor the cost of explant surgery.

As the doc spoke, Cruz saw the faces of women he'd dated over the years who had implants, and the wives of friends, the mother of a kid he grew up with, a colleague. Mostly he saw Sonya, Silicone Sonya, sweat pooling in her sternum on a cool night, always tired, trying to rub away a headache.

Afterward, Dr. MIller couldn't talk, he was dashing to the airport to speak in Los Angeles, so Cruz asked Donna Tanega to introduce him to others who were suffering from silicone poisoning and might be willing to talk about it, and got several names and numbers.

One of them included a guy he used to see out and about, a top ballroom dancer, who admitted he'd had pectoral implants. He asked, and Cruz agreed to keep his identity anonymous.

Back in his Z and on the road again, all Cruz could think about was somehow finding Sonya and telling her that he may have found what was ailing her. Problem was, Sonya had apparently fallen off the face of the earth.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


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