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Unveiling the Role of Environmental Factors in Breast Implant Illness (BII) or ASIA

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on July 14, 2023

Breast implant illness (BII) or autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) has gained significant attention in recent years. While the exact causes and mechanisms are still being explored, there is growing evidence suggesting that environmental factors play a significant role in the development of BII or ASIA. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the research surrounding environmental influences on this complex condition.

  1. Silicone and Chemical Exposure: Silicone, a common component of breast implants, has long been a subject of concern in relation to BII. Some studies have suggested that silicone leakage or migration from implants can trigger an immune response, leading to systemic symptoms. Additionally, exposure to various chemicals, such as heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides, has been implicated in the development of autoimmune disorders. These environmental toxins may contribute to the onset or exacerbation of BII symptoms in susceptible individuals. (1)
  2. Genetic Susceptibility: While environmental factors play a crucial role, genetic predisposition is also believed to contribute to the development of BII or ASIA. Certain genetic variants can affect an individual's immune response, making them more susceptible to adverse reactions. Research has shown that variations in genes related to immune regulation, detoxification pathways, and inflammation can influence an individual's risk of developing autoimmune conditions. Understanding these genetic factors may help identify individuals who are more susceptible to BII and personalize treatment approaches. (2)
  3. Microbiome Dysbiosis: The gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of microorganisms, plays a vital role in immune system modulation. Disruption in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, has been linked to various autoimmune conditions. Recent studies suggest a potential association between dysbiosis and BII. Environmental factors, such as diet, antibiotic use, and exposure to pollutants, can alter the composition of the gut microbiome, potentially triggering or exacerbating BII symptoms. Further research is needed to elucidate the specific mechanisms underlying this relationship. (3)
  4. Environmental Triggers: Apart from silicone and chemical exposure, other environmental triggers may contribute to the development of BII or ASIA. Chronic stress, poor sleep quality, and dietary factors, including food sensitivities or intolerances, have been proposed as potential triggers. Chronic stress, for instance, can dysregulate the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to autoimmune conditions. Identifying and addressing these environmental triggers can aid in symptom management and overall well-being. (4)

Breast implant illness (BII) or ASIA is a multifaceted condition with various factors at play. While the primary cause of BII is yet to be determined, environmental factors are gaining recognition as potential contributors. Silicone and chemical exposure, genetic susceptibility, microbiome dysbiosis, and environmental triggers like stress and diet may all influence the development and severity of BII symptoms. Further research is essential to unravel the intricate interactions between these factors and provide targeted interventions for individuals affected by BII or ASIA.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing symptoms of Breast Implant Illness (BII) or ASIA, it is crucial to seek comprehensive and individualized care. Consulting with a holistic healthcare provider, such as a naturopathic doctor, can offer a valuable perspective on addressing the environmental factors associated with BII. These practitioners focus on treating the whole person and employ an integrative approach that combines evidence-based medicine with natural therapies, lifestyle modifications, and dietary interventions. By working collaboratively with a holistic healthcare provider, you can explore personalized strategies to support your immune system, address potential triggers, optimize your overall health, and find the relief you seek on your journey towards wellness.


  1. Cohen Tervaert JW, Mohazab N, Redmond D, van Eeden C, Osman M. Breast implant illness: scientific evidence of its existence. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2022 Jan;18(1):15-29. doi: 10.1080/1744666X.2022.2010546. Epub 2022 Jan 5. PMID: 34882509.
  2. Kaplan J, Rohrich R. Breast implant illness: a topic in review. Gland Surg. 2021 Jan;10(1):430-443. doi: 10.21037/gs-20-231. PMID: 33634001; PMCID: PMC7882356.
  3. Lee M, Ponraja G, McLeod K, Chong S. Breast Implant Illness: A Biofilm Hypothesis. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2020 Apr 30;8(4):e2755. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002755. PMID: 32440423; PMCID: PMC7209857.
  4. Suh LJ, Khan I, Kelley-Patteson C, Mohan G, Hassanein AH, Sinha M. Breast Implant-Associated Immunological Disorders. J Immunol Res. 2022 May 4;2022:8536149. doi: 10.1155/2022/8536149. PMID: 35571560; PMCID: PMC9095406.

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