DES Follow-up Study Summary
Included in this study were 5,573 women who participated in the NCI DES Follow-up Study between 1994 and 2006. Data on reproductive history and medical conditions were collected on the first follow-up questionnaire in 1994 and subsequently on the 1997, 2001, and 2006 questionnaires.
The results of the study showed that women who had fewer than 25 years of menstruation (between the start of menstrual cycles and menopause) had a higher incidence of osteoporosis when compared with women who menstruated for 35 years or more. The association of years of menstruation with osteoporosis was shown observed in both DES-exposed and unexposed women, but was stronger among women who had not been prenatally exposed to DES.
The study’s results support the hypothesis that total lifetime exposure to estrogens that occur naturally through a woman’s reproductive years protects against the development of osteoporosis. Furthermore, prenatal exposure to estrogen, in the form of DES, may reduce this protection, although we do not yet know how.
2014 Study Abstract:
Estrogen is critical for bone formation and growth in women. Estrogen exposures occur throughout life, including prenatally, and change with reproductive events, such as menarche and menopause.
The objective of this study was to investigate the association between age at menarche, age at menopause, and years of menstruation with incidence of osteoporosis and assess the impact of prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen, on such associations.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:
Participants were 5573 women in the National Cancer Institute Combined Cohort Study of DES (1994-2006). Data on reproductive history and medical conditions were collected through questionnaires at baseline in 1994 and subsequently in 1997, 2001, and 2006. Age-stratified Cox regression models were used to calculate multivariable incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Effect measure modification by prenatal DES exposure was assessed using cubic restricted spline regression models.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:
Osteoporosis was the main outcome measure.
The IRRs for osteoporosis incidence with age at menarche less than 11 years and age at menopause of 50 years or younger were 0.82 (CI 0.59, 1.14) and 0.61 (CI 0.40, 0.92), respectively. Fewer than 25 years of menstruation was associated with an increased incidence of osteoporosis (IRR 1.80; CI 1.14, 2.86) compared with 35 years or more of menstruation. Associations were stronger among women who had not been prenatally exposed to DES.
Our data support the hypothesis that lifetime cumulative exposure to estrogens is protective against osteoporosis. Furthermore, prenatal exposure to estrogen appears to modify these associations, although the mechanism by which this occurs is unknown.
- Menarche, menopause, years of menstruation, and the incidence of osteoporosis: the influence of prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol, NCBI, PMID: 24248183, 2014 Feb;99(2):594-601. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-2954. Epub 2013 Nov 18. Full text link.
- NCI, DES Follow-up Study Published Papers.
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