Three recent epidemiological studies of purported links between breast implants and a variety of ailments, notably the skin hardening disease scleroderma, have concluded that the linkage simply cannot be established.

Gee, that's nice to know. Better late than never. Too bad, though, that in our era the scientific method can't compete anymore with lawyers marauding after some $1 billion in contingency fees, politically correct mind-sets in the media, or Dr. Kessler's Food and Drug Administration.

It's too bad, because as a result of the atmosphere of fright created by this triumvirate, nearly all companies withdrew from the silicone breast-implant market. Mastectomy patients, past and future, now face a destroyed market for silicone implants.

It has to be understood that these plaintiffs' lawyers have a huge economic incentive in the outcome of such cases because they get an enormous percentage cut of any settlement. It is in their economic interest to make the stories of diseases related to silicone implants as lurid and horrible as possible, because it drives deep-pockets defendants toward settlements like the $4.3 billion pot set up by Dow Corning, Bristol-Myers, Baxter Labs, 3M, and others in this case. Only about 22 lawyers will be divvying up most of the $1 billion in contingency fees.

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