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May 13, 1992

Implants Aside, Silicon Is No Stranger to the Body

JAMA. 1992;267(18):2442-2444. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480180028004

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THE CYTOTOXIC effects of silicone in the body might have more to do with the mechanical effects of microparticles, and the concentrations of these particles in various tissues, than their chemical composition, some researchers say.

Silicon, atomic element number 14, is an abundant element in nature, foods, and man-made products. Silicon comprises 27% of the earth's crust; only oxygen, at 48%, is more abundant.

Silicone, the polymer, contains silicon, oxygen, and organic groups that form chains and cross-links. These chains determine the polymer's strength, hardness, and elasticity. (Liquid silicones, for example, have shorter chains with less cross-linking and, therefore, lower molecular weights than silicone gels or solids.)

Silicon is known to be an essential element for plants, and is probably an essential element for mammals, including humans. Chickens raised on siliconfree diets fail to develop properly and have connective tissue malformations, says Michael Morykwas, PhD, director of research for the