London: Scientists have claimed that hip replacement patients could face an increased risk of cancer and genetic damage, raising fears about the surgical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant.

A new research on the effects of "metal-on-metal" devices has suggested that it's the implant which could raise the risk of cancer and genetic damage in patients undergoing hip replacement surgery, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.

The British scientists at Bristol University have based their conclusion after detecting abnormal cell changes in the bladders of more than one in five patients who were monitored after being given "metal-on-metal" hip replacements.

In fact, problems occur with the implants when friction between the metal ball and cup causes minuscule metal filings to break off which can seep into blood and cause inflammation, destroying muscle and bone, say the scientists.

There are also concerns that metal traces in the blood could put major organs at risk of being slowly poisoned, and increase the chance of cancer -- in particular in the kidneys and bladder, they say.

The in-depth research on 72 patients found genetic damage to the bladders of 17 people -- including three patients who developed full-blown cancer.

The proportion of patients who had suffered DNA damage may be significant, because such changes can cause mutations which in turn lead to cancer, say the scientists adding they hope to present the results to other surgeons next month.

Their study was launched after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency warned that all 40,000 Britons with "metal-on-metal" devices should undergo annual checks, with scans and blood tests if doctors find symptoms that suggest metal leakage.

A spokesman for the University of Bristol said analysis of the results from the trial was still ongoing, and that the research would be peer reviewed and published.

(Agencies)