(diethylstilbestrol) has been called, "the worst disaster in U.S.
medical history." There are an estimated 10 million Americans who
have been exposed to DES, and hundreds of thousands more in Europe, Australia,
Canada, and beyond.
DES was a popular
estrogen prescription drug for nearly 30 years. It was prescribed for
the prevention of miscarriage, and to make strong, healthy pregnancies.
DES was marketed around the world, decades after research showed it ineffective
in the prevention of miscarriage in the 1950s. In the early 1970s, DES
was identified as a teratogen and cross-placental carcinogen. Instead
of saving babies, DES can damage the reproductive system of the developing
child, causing cancer, and a wide range of health and reproductive injuries
as DES daughters and sons reach adulthood.
Although, not all DES-exposed people have health problems, DES daughters
have higher rates of a rare vaginal and cervical cancer, auto immune problems,
and reproductive problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage,
and premature delivery. DES mothers have a 30% higher incidence of breast
cancer. Research shows DES sons to have a higher incidence of reproductive
malformations. DES (diethylstilbestrol) has caused sickness, loss, heartbreak,
worry, and death-at an inestimable cost to society.
DES was a mainstay of the livestock industry, too. It was used in animal
feed to fatten cattle, lamb, and chicken. A large percentage of the hamburgers,
veal, poultry, and steaks on our dinner plates in the 1950s, '60s, and
'70s, were DES-fed livestock.
and medical technologies
DES injuries result from high doses of the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol.
As estrogen treatment is increasingly a part of our lives, via birth control
pills, infertility treatments, and estrogen replacement therapy (ERT and
HRT) during menopausal years, the story of DES has important ramifications.
DES consequences raise questions about cumulative hormone exposure, prescription
estrogens, and environmental estrogen exposure.
and environmental hormones
DES is more than a personal medical problem. It is one of many environmental
hormones, called endocrine disrupters, that can disrupt second generation
reproductive function in wildlife and humans.