Silicon is an essential element present in substantial amounts in the body, with high concentrations in the skin and arterial wall. Dietary silicon, associated with the fibre content of foods, is poorly absorbed.
Women with silicone gel breast implants may show increased levels of serum silicon but the chemical species present, whether intact chemical polymer components or breakdown products, is unknown.
In experimental studies in animals, silicon deficiency results in impaired growth and skeletal abnormalities. It is probable that silicon is important in collagen synthesis, possibly as a collagen cross-linking agent. It is also possible that silicon may be involved more directly in calcification.
The possible role of silicon in human disease is unclear. A role in atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and hypertension has been deduced from its involvement with collagen and elastin metabolism. Studies have shown an inverse relationship between the silicon content of the arterial wall and the degree of atherosclerosis. The silicon content of dietary fibre and of hard water has been linked to the association between intake of these substances and decreased risk of atherosclerosis.
Laboratory Indices of Silicon Status
Measurement in serum and urine is feasible.
Bendz G, Lindqvist, Eds. Biochemistry of Silicon and Related Problems Plenum, New York, 1978
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Peters W, Smith DLugowski S, McHugh A, Baines C. Do patients with silicone-gel breast implants have elevated levels of blood silicon compared with control patients? Ann Plast Surg 1995; 34: 343-7