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No increased cancer risk shown with metal-on-metal hip replacement

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Patients implanted with metal-on-metal hip replacements potentially have one less thing to worry about.

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics recalled nearly 100,000 chromium and cobalt hip replacements two years ago when British researchers learned the hip and ball joints rubbed against one another, causing metal shavings to accumulate in patients’ bloodstream.

Those same researchers published a study Tuesday stating that patients with the defective medical devices do not face a greater cancer risk over a seven year period than the general population or those with other hip implants.

A New York law firm suing DePuy is concerned that University of Bristol professor and study co-author Ashley Blom’s findings may mislead patients.

Blom acknowledges the need for longer studies, since many cancers take seven years or longer to develop. She also realizes that metal-on-metal hips were marketed to younger patients, who tend to have lower cancer rates.

Still, she hopes she was able to reassure patients that their cancer risk is “relatively low” or that the metal shavings aren’t increasing that risk.

According to the Food and Drug Administration website, patients implanted with metal-on-metal hip replacement systems are still in danger of developing heart disease, thyroid problems, and neurological issues like dementia.

The FDA will hold a public forum on June 27 and 28, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a place to be determined. The public is welcome to submit comments or concerns prior to May 9.

In the meantime, if you’re suffering pain or stiffness from a metal-on-metal hip implant, we encourage you to see your doctor.