Psychosexual characteristics of men and women exposed prenatally to Diethylstilbestrol

DES exposure possible effects on psychosexual characteristics remain largely unknown

DES Follow-up Study Summary

National Cancer Inst logo image
These 2003 study findings provide little support for the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to DES influences the psychosexual characteristics of adult men and women.

Animal studies suggest that estrogen affects the developing brain, including the part that governs sexual behavior and right and left dominance. We examined the potential impact of prenatal Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure on these characteristics in 2,684 men and 5,686 women participating in the NCI DES Follow-up Study.

Information on marital status, sexual behavior, and handedness was reported by subjects on a questionnaire. Responses indicated that DES neither influenced sexual behavior nor resulted in an increased likelihood of homosexual contact. In sons, DES was unrelated to the likelihood of ever having been married or of having a same-sex sexual partner in adulthood, age at first intercourse and number of sexual partners. DES Daughters were slightly more likely than unexposed women to have ever been married but were less likely to report having had a same-sex sexual partner, having had their first sexual intercourse before age 17 and to having had more than one sexual partner.

DES Daughters were just as likely as unexposed women to be left-handed. DES Sons were slightly more likely to be left-handed than unexposed men. Overall, about 17% of women reported a mental illness, but we found no evidence that it was more frequent in the exposed than the unexposed women. Mental illness was not assessed in the men.

2003 Study Abstract

Between 1939 and the 1960s, the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) was given to millions of pregnant women to prevent pregnancy complications and losses. The adverse effects of prenatal exposure on the genitourinary tract in men and the reproductive tract in women are well established, but the possible effects on psychosexual characteristics remain largely unknown.

We evaluated DES exposure in relation to psychosexual outcomes in a cohort of 2,684 men and 5,686 women with documented exposure status.

In men, DES was unrelated to the likelihood of ever having been married, age at first intercourse, number of sexual partners, and having had a same-sex sexual partner in adulthood. DES-exposed women, compared with the unexposed, were slightly more likely to have ever married (odds ratio [OR] = 1.1; confidence interval [CI] = 1.0-1.4) and less likely to report having had a same-sex sexual partner (OR = 0.7; CI = 0.5-1.0). The DES-exposed women were less likely to have had first sexual intercourse before age 17 (OR = 0.7; CI = 0.6-0.9) or to have had more than one sexual partner (OR = 0.8; CI = 0.7-0.9). There was an excess of left-handedness in DES-exposed men (OR = 1.4; CI = 1.1-1.7) but not in DES-exposed women. DES exposure was unrelated to self-reported history of mental illness in women.

Overall, our findings provide little support for the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to DES influences the psychosexual characteristics of adult men and women.


  • Psychosexual characteristics of men and women exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol,NCBI, PMID: 12606880, Epidemiology. 2003 Mar;14(2):155-60.
  • NCI, DES Follow-up Study Published Papers.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Not in our Food!

Are you (still) enjoying festive holiday meals?

Happy EDC holidays cartoon
Image via @EuropePAN.

Did you tell regulators that we prefer EDCfree holidays next year?

Image source: Pesticide Action Network Europe Twitter feed.

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The Full Wolf Moon #FullMoonEngageMe Social Media Event N°9 #EmpireAvenue #SocialNetworking

This January 2015, between the 3rd and the 6th, join our free social media event taking place at each Full Moon – via #EAv – and give a boost to your social networking!

full_wolf_moon image
This January 2015, between the 3rd and the 6th, join our free social media event taking place at each Full Moon – via #EAv – and give a boost to your social networking!

The Full Wolf Moon

January’s full moon got its name from the fact that during January the wolf packs howled hungrily outside of native American villages in the cold and deep snows. The January full moon name was sometimes the Old Moon.

#FullMoonEngageMe Social Media Event N°9 Schedule

The event will start on Saturday the 3rd of January 2015 at 12:00 UTC and will last until Tuesday the 6th in HERE.

What is this about?

A great opportunity for you to super charge your social networking, to meet Empire Avenue Leaders, to connect with top social media engagers and more

What about the previous 2014 events?

May 2014 initial SoMe event was followed by the strawberry, the buck, the sturgeon, the harvest, the hunter, the beaver and the cold moons. In the Empire Avenue EAv Gangstas community, you can still access all the conversation threads.

  • Please read our FAQs and use the comment section to ask any question about the event.
  • You can join – for FREE – Empire Avenue at anytime – before and after any FullMoon EngageMe Social Media Event.
    You can use this link – with no strings attached – to get some extra “eaves” at start !
    See you soon 😉

Variation in some cancer risk among tissues explained by stem cell divisions number

Random DNA mutations during cell division may account for around 65% of cancer incidence, while the remaining 35% may be explained by hereditary or environmental factors

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have created a statistical model that measures the proportion of cancer incidence, across many tissue types, caused mainly by random mutations that occur when stem cells divide. By their measure, two-thirds of adult cancer incidence across tissues can be explained primarily by “bad luck,” when these random mutations occur in genes that can drive cancer growth, while the remaining third are due to environmental factors and inherited genes.

DNA error during cell division replication
According to the study authors, it is well established that tissue-specific stem cells make random mutations – caused by DNA errors during cell division replication – that are drivers of cancer; the more these mutations expand, the higher the cancer risk.

Study Abstract

Some tissue types give rise to human cancers millions of times more often than other tissue types. Although this has been recognized for more than a century, it has never been explained. Here, we show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated (0.81) with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue’s homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to “bad luck,” that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells. This is important not only for understanding the disease but also for designing strategies to limit the mortality it causes.

Editor’s Summary

Why do some tissues give rise to cancer in humans a million times more frequently than others? Tomasetti and Vogelstein conclude that these differences can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions. By plotting the lifetime incidence of various cancers against the estimated number of normal stem cell divisions in the corresponding tissues over a lifetime, they found a strong correlation extending over five orders of magnitude. This suggests that random errors occurring during DNA replication in normal stem cells are a major contributing factor in cancer development. Remarkably, this “bad luck” component explains a far greater number of cancers than do hereditary and environmental factors.

Sources and more information
  • Bad Luck of Random Mutations Plays Predominant Role in Cancer, Study Shows, hopkinsmedicine, January 1, 2015.
  • Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions, Science Vol. 347 no. 6217 pp. 78-81, DOI: 10.1126/science.1260825, 2 January 2015.
  • Most cancer types ‘just bad luck’, BBC News, 2 January 2015.
  • Biological bad luck blamed in two-thirds of cancer cases, reuters, Jan 1, 2015.
  • Two thirds of cancer cases down to ‘bad luck,’ new study claims,
    medicalnewstoday, 2 January 2015.
  • The Guardian view on cancers: most of them have no cause,
    theguardian, Friday 2 January.
  • Most Cancer Is Beyond Your Control, Breakthrough Study Finds,
    time, Friday 2 January.
  • Bad luck, bad journalism and cancer rates, theguardian, 2 January 2015.
  • Luck and Cancer, understandinguncertainty, 03/01/2015 .

Introduction to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals


Introduction-to-EDCs image
This @TheEndoSociety and @ToxicsFree guide is a joint effort to raise global awareness about EDCs.

To raise global awareness about endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) the Endocrine Society and IPEN have joined together to develop this EDC Guide documenting the threat endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose to human health.

Teams @TheEndoSociety and @ToxicsFree December 2014 guide draws from each organization’s strengths to present a more comprehensive picture of global EDC exposures and health risks than either could have done alone:

  • Endocrine Society authors contributed the scientific and health-related content
  • IPEN provides knowledge of global policies and perspectives from developing and transition countries
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Estrogen responsible for more severe allergic reactions in Women

Established link between estrogen and eNOS in severe anaphylactic reactions in the female mice

NIH Study May Help Explain Gender Disparity Observed in People…

Estrogen worsens allergic reactions in mice
Airways of male (right) and female (left) mice respond differently to anaphylactic triggers. The female response is more severe, showing more accumulation of fluids and cells around the respiratory tract (arrows). Image credit @NIAIDNews.

Estradiol, a type of estrogen, enhances the levels and activity in mice of an enzyme that drives life-threatening allergic reactions, according to researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study results may help explain why women frequently experience more severe allergic reactions compared to men. Furthermore, the results reaffirm the importance of accounting for gender in the design of animal experiments.

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction triggered by food, medication or insect stings and bites. Immune cells, particularly mast cells, release enzymes that cause tissues to swell and blood vessels to widen. As a result, skin may flush or develop a rash, and in extreme cases, breathing difficulties, shock or heart attack may occur. Clinical studies have shown that women tend to experience anaphylaxis more frequently than men, but why this difference exists is unclear.

In the current study, NIAID researchers found that female mice experience more severe and longer lasting anaphylactic reactions than males. Instead of targeting immune cells, estrogen influences blood vessels, enhancing the levels and activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that causes some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis. When the researchers blocked eNOS activity, the gender disparity disappeared. In addition, giving estrogen-blocking treatments to female mice reduced the severity of their allergic responses to a level similar to those seen in males.

While the study has identified a clear role for estrogen and eNOS in driving severe anaphylactic reactions in female mice, more work is needed to see if the effects are similar in people and may be applied toward future preventive therapies.

Sources and more information

  • Estrogen increases the severity of anaphylaxis in female mice through enhanced endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide production, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, article/S0091-6749(14)01597-8, December 29, 2014.
  • Estrogen Worsens Allergic Reactions in Mice, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH News, Dec. 29, 2014
  • Is estrogen to blame for more severe allergic reactions in women?, medicalnewstoday, 30 December 2014.

BreastCancer Risk can raise Up to 30% with AtypicalHyperplasia Breast Masses

Atypical Hyperplasia of the Breast — Risk Assessment and Management Options

Women with atypical hyperplasia of the breast have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than previously thought., according to a new study.

Atypical hyperplasia is associated with increased breast cancer risk, and consequently, women should be educated regarding their risk of developing breast cancer and the potential risk reduction associated with chemoprevention, according to a New England Journal of Medicine special report.

Atypical hyperplasia of the breast is a precancerous condition wherein the breast cells that are beginning to grow out of control (hyperplasia) and cluster into abnormal patterns (atypical). Although atypia lesions are considered benign, yet the risk associated with it appearance and genetic changes largely show some of the early features of cancer.

Lynn Hartmann is an oncologist at Mayo Clinic and the lead author of this study that followed 698 women. All the women had atypical hyperplasia and had been biopsied at Mayo Clinic between 1967 and 2001. The team observed that after five years, around 7% of these women had developed the disease. After 10 years, this number went up to 13% and 30% of them had breast cancer after 25 years.

Amy Degnim, a breast surgeon at Mayo Clinic and co-lead author of this study, said, “We need to do more for this population of women who are at higher risk, such as providing the option of MRI screenings in addition to mammograms and encouraging consideration of anti-estrogen therapies that could reduce their risk of developing cancer“.

Experts since long have always known that atypical hyperplasia increases the risk of breast cancer but this new finding surely gives women with this condition more solid information about the extent of the risk associated.

Robert Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, reviewed the findings of this study and stated that the study provides a new dimension to doctors in breast cancer cases.

Sources and more information

  • Atypical Hyperplasia of the Breast — Risk Assessment and Management Options, New England Journal of Medicine, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsr1407164, January 1, 2015.
  • Risk of breast cancer increases with atypical hyperplasia, newsmaine, Jan 01, 2015.
  • Women with Atypical Hyperplasia are at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer,
    mayoclinic, Dec 31, 2014.
  • Suspicious breast mass may pose greater risk than previously thought,
    reuters, Dec 31, 2014.

Happy New Year to All the Readers of @DES_Journal of a DES Daughter Network Blog!

Best Wishes for a Good Health

happy-new-year poster
Happy New Year to All @DES_Journal of a DES Daughter Network Blog Readers!
Image credit Cristina Popa.

May the New Year bring you and your family: peace and good health!