Prenatal exposure to DiEthylStilbestrol and sexual orientation in men and women

Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior



Both sexual orientation and sex-typical childhood behaviors, such as toy, playmate and activity preferences, show substantial sex differences, as well as substantial variability within each sex. In other species, behaviors that show sex differences are typically influenced by exposure to gonadal steroids, particularly testosterone and its metabolites, during early development (prenatally or neonatally). This article reviews the evidence regarding prenatal influences of gonadal steroids on human sexual orientation, as well as sex-typed childhood behaviors that predict subsequent sexual orientation. The evidence supports a role for prenatal testosterone exposure in the development of sex-typed interests in childhood, as well as in sexual orientation in later life, at least for some individuals. It appears, however, that other factors, in addition to hormones, play an important role in determining sexual orientation. These factors have not been well-characterized, but possibilities include direct genetic effects, and effects of maternal factors during pregnancy. Although a role for hormones during early development has been established, it also appears that there may be multiple pathways to a given sexual orientation outcome and some of these pathways may not involve hormones.


The possibility that exposure to ovarian hormones before birth influences sexual orientation in males also has been investigated. These studies have produced largely negative results. One study compared two groups of men exposed to the synthetic estrogen, DES, prenatally to matched controls. One group included 17 men exposed to DES alone and the second included 21 men exposed to DES along with natural progesterone. The study also included 10 men exposed prenatally to natural progesterone alone and 13 men exposed prenatally to synthetic progestins alone. Each of these groups was compared to matched controls. None of the four groups of hormone-exposed men differed from their respective controls in sexual orientation in fantasy or behavior. In addition, for all four samples combined, non-heterosexual orientation was reported by 8 of the 61 hormone-exposed men (13%), and by 8 of the 60 control men (13%). Two other research teams also have looked at sexual orientation in men exposed to DES prenatally, and have found no evidence of reduced heterosexual orientation. One studied 46 men exposed to DES and 29 unexposed controls. Men exposed to DES had somewhat more heterosexual coital experience than did controls, but did not differ in the number of heterosexual or homosexual coital partners. The second compared 1,342 DES-exposed men to 1,342 unexposed men, and found no difference in the numbers reporting sexual experience with a partner of the same sex, although, as noted above, this study used a relatively insensitive procedure for assessing sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the findings overall suggest that prenatal exposure to estrogen does not feminize sexual orientation in developing males, and this conclusion is consistent with predictions from results of experimental studies in other species, where early exposure of male animals to estrogen does not promote the development of female-typical behavior.

Prenatal exposure to DES and sexual orientation in women

One research team has studied three samples of women exposed prenatally to DES. The first sample included 30 women exposed to DES, 30 unexposed women recruited from the same gynaecological clinic and 12 unexposed sisters of the DES-exposed women. All of the participants had abnormal PAP smear findings. (Although DES rarely, if ever, causes genital virilization, prenatal exposure is often associated with abnormal PAP smears). Sexual orientation was assessed by interview and rated using Kinsey scale scores, and a global rating for lifelong sexual responsiveness (behavior and fantasy combined) was reported for 29 of the DES-exposed women and 30 of the controls. DES exposure was associated with reduced heterosexual orientation. Although 76% of the DES-exposed women were exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual for lifetime scores, 24% were not. The comparable figure for the matched controls with abnormal PAP smear findings was 0%. The subset of 12 sister pairs showed a similar pattern with 42% of the DES-exposed sisters being not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual for their lifetime in terms of fantasy or behavior, compared to 8% of their unexposed sisters. Among the total group of DES-exposed women, five had experienced homosexual activities involving genital contact and two were living with a female partner. The same research team later reported data from this initial study along with data from two more samples of women exposed to DES prenatally. The first additional sample included 30 DES-exposed women, 30 demographically matched controls, with no history of DES-exposure or abnormal PAP smears, and 8 unexposed sisters. In this sample, a global Kinsey rating for lifelong sexual responsiveness was reported for 29 of the DES-exposed women and 30 of the matched controls. For the exposed group, 35% were not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual, whereas for the control group the comparable figure was 13%. Among the 20 sister pairs in the first and second samples, 40% of the DES-exposed group, compared to 5% of their sisters, were not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual. The second additional sample included 37 DES-exposed women whose mothers’ obstetrical files indicated prescription of at least 1000 mg of DES during the pregnancy, and age-matched daughters of women from the same obstetrical practice, whose mothers’ files showed that no DES was prescribed. For these women, 16% of the DES-exposed group and 5% of the unexposed group were not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual. For all three samples combined, 24% of the DES-exposed women, and 6% of the control women were not exclusively or almost exclusively heterosexual.

Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior, National Institutes of Health, Front Neuroendocrinol; 32(2): 170–182, NCBI PubMed PMC3296090, 2011 Apr

A separate investigation of women exposed to DES prenatally concluded that this exposure did not influence their sexual orientation. This study included 3,946 women exposed prenatally to DES and 1,740 women not exposed to DES. The DES-exposed women were somewhat less likely than the unexposed women to have had sex with a female partner. The DES-exposed women also were more likely than the unexposed women to have ever married, and for those who had had sexual intercourse with a man, were less likely to have had sexual intercourse before age 17 or to have had more than one sexual partner. These last differences raise questions about the comparability of the exposed and unexposed groups, and, although the large sample is impressive, the assessment of sexual orientation, in terms of a single question regarding sexual behavior, is relatively insensitive.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Clear Cell Adenocarcinoma of the Ovary Associated with In Utero DES Exposure

A 45-year-old white woman was referred to an outpatient clinic with a self-discovered lump in the left lower abdominal quadrant


To our knowledge, this patient is the first clinical case featuring clear cell adenocarcinoma of the ovary that may be linked to diethylstilbestrol exposure in utero. We would like to emphasize that clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina and cervix, not the ovary, were previously shown to be sites for tumors in female offspring exposed prenatally to DES.

A 45-year-old woman presented with a self-discovered lump in the lower abdominal quadrant. She underwent surgery and staging that revealed clear cell adenocarcinoma confined to the left ovary. Foci of high-grade squamous neoplastic proliferation, inflammation, and a paratubal cyst were also present on the pathology specimen. Medical records established unequivocally that the patient’s mother received diethylstilbestrol therapy throughout the pregnancy. since clear cell cancers can develop, not infrequently, in foci of endometriosis, our patient’s pathology specimen was carefully inspected for endometriosis and none was found. Moreover, evidence linking prenatal DES exposure with chronic ovarian inflammation, paraovarian cysts, and high-grade squamous neoplastic proliferation in the genital tract has been accumulating. Although our patient is older than most patients in the Herbst cohort and a sporadic case of clear cell carcinoma cannot be excluded with certainty, all of the above changes were present in our patient’s pathology specimen. This further enhances our degree of suspicion on the causality between in utero DES exposure and the clear cell adenocarcinoma of the ovary in our patient.

Clear Cell Adenocarcinoma of the Ovary Associated With In Utero Diethylstilbestrol Exposure: Case Report and Clinical Overview, Medscape J Medv.11(1); 2009PMC2654676, 2009 Jan 7.

Our case is consistent with clear cell adenocarcinoma, probably related to diethylstilbestrol exposure in utero. Our case of probable DES-induced transplacental carcinogenesis more than 4 four decades after exposure reinforces the need for continued vigilance and routine gynecologic examinations in individuals prenatally exposed to this drug.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

IVF Stimulation Drugs to Induce Ovulation: the Risks

Experience: IVF gave me a heart attack

For a long time, I felt angry with the original clinic, but then decided to channel my anger. I now work to raise awareness of the dangers of high-stimulation IVF.

I have also discovered that the UK is well behind other countries in reporting adverse reactions to IVF. This means that if I had died from my heart attack, the real cause would probably never have been found.

I feel so blessed not only to have survived, but to have had two wonderful little girls. I want to do everything I can to protect other women.

Read: IVF gave me a heart attack, the guardian, 6 May 2016.

Analysis of breast cancer subtypes could lead to better risk stratification

Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011, Featuring Incidence of Breast Cancer Subtypes by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and State

For the first time, researchers have used national data to determine the incidence of the four major molecular subtypes of breast cancer by age, race/ethnicity, poverty level, and several other factors.  These four subtypes respond differently to treatment and have different survival rates.  The new data will help researchers more accurately stratify breast cancer by clinically relevant degrees of risk and potentially have an impact on breast cancer treatment. Moreover, armed with this information, women will be able to better understand the implications for their health based on their breast cancer subtype.

New analysis of breast cancer subtypes could lead to better risk stratification, cdc, March 30, 2015.

The four major molecular subtypes are categorized according to their hormone receptor (HR) status, meaning a chemical receptor lying on breast cancer cells that reacts to hormones such as estrogen. Categorization is also dependent on a tumor cell’s activity around the HER2 gene. Both factors can affect how a tumor acts and might be treated, experts say.

The four tumor types are:

  1. Luminal A (HR+/HER2-),
  2. Luminal B (HR+/HER2+),
  3. HER2-enriched (HR-/HER2+),
  4. triple negative (HR-/HER2-).


Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011, Featuring Incidence of Breast Cancer Subtypes by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and State, Journal of National Cancer Institute, Volume 107, Issue 6 10.1093/jnci/djv048, February 10, 2015.

The American Cancer Society (ACS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborate annually to produce updated, national cancer statistics. This Annual Report includes a focus on breast cancer incidence by subtype using new, national-level data.

Population-based cancer trends and breast cancer incidence by molecular subtype were calculated. Breast cancer subtypes were classified using tumor biomarkers for hormone receptor (HR) and human growth factor-neu receptor (HER2) expression.

Overall cancer incidence decreased for men by 1.8% annually from 2007 to 2011. Rates for women were stable from 1998 to 2011. Within these trends there was racial/ethnic variation, and some sites have increasing rates. Among children, incidence rates continued to increase by 0.8% per year over the past decade while, like adults, mortality declined. Overall mortality has been declining for both men and women since the early 1990’s and for children since the 1970’s. HR+/HER2- breast cancers, the subtype with the best prognosis, were the most common for all races/ethnicities with highest rates among non-Hispanic white women, local stage cases, and low poverty areas (92.7, 63.51, and 98.69 per 100000 non-Hispanic white women, respectively). HR+/HER2- breast cancer incidence rates were strongly, positively correlated with mammography use, particularly for non-Hispanic white women (Pearson 0.57, two-sided P < .001). Triple-negative breast cancers, the subtype with the worst prognosis, were highest among non-Hispanic black women (27.2 per 100000 non-Hispanic black women), which is reflected in high rates in southeastern states.

Progress continues in reducing the burden of cancer in the United States. There are unique racial/ethnic-specific incidence patterns for breast cancer subtypes; likely because of both biologic and social risk factors, including variation in mammography use. Breast cancer subtype analysis confirms the capacity of cancer registries to adjust national collection standards to produce clinically relevant data based on evolving medical knowledge.

Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function

Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region

University of Missouri researchers have discovered that an oil and natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing uses chemicals that can disrupt the body’s hormones. The researchers found that the endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in the process could interfere with a class of hormones that includes testosterone and estrogen.

  • MU Researchers Find Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function, MU School of Medicine, News.
  • Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region, MU School of Medicine, Endocrinology, 2013.
  • Watch it full screen or via SlideShare.
  • Meet DES Daughter Network on SlideShare.

Could Your Child be drinking Lead-Contaminated Water in School?

Most facilities don’t even have to test, says one expert: “It’s unconscionable”

Parents in Newark, New Jersey, are wondering whether their children have been exposed to dangerous amounts of lead. Since early March, more than half of the 67 district schools have tested positive for high lead levels in the drinking water, and documents shows that the school administration knew about the problem for at least six years… ”

… Continue reading When Lead Affects Learning, the atlantic, APR 9, 2016.

Related press releases
  • High Lead Levels Found at More Newark Schools, nytimes, MARCH 31, 2016.
  • Your Child Could Be Drinking Lead-Tainted Water in School—and You’d Never Know It, motherjone, Apr. 6, 2016.
  • Drinking Water in Newark Schools Known to Have Lead Problem at Least 6 Years Ago, nytimes, APRIL 8, 2016.

Notre poison quotidien

Comment l’industrie chimique empoisonne-t-elle notre assiette?

Documentaire de Marie-Monique Robin diffusé le 15 MARS 2011 sur Arte.

Pesticides, additifs, colorants, emballages… Un sujet qui nous concerne tous et qui pose la question de notre alimentation.

En savoir plus

  • Peut-on établir un lien entre la contamination de la chaîne alimentaire par des substances chimiques et l’épidémie de maladies chroniques que l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS) constate un peu partout dans le monde?
    Notre poison quotidien est un documentaire d’investigation qui tente de répondre à cette question et dresse le bilan d’études longtemps ignorées : l’épidémie actuelle de cancers, maladies neurologiques et dysfonctionnements du système immunitaire, est en grande partie liée à l’exposition des quelques 100 000 molécules chimiques qui ont envahi notre alimentation et notre environnement.
    Une enquête qui met en évidence la réalité de ces effets, mais également l’opacité et le mensonge de l’industrie agro-alimentaire et des décideurs politiques.
  • “NOTRE POISON QUOTIDIEN”: UN DOCU DIFFICILE À DIGÉRER, owni, 15 MARS 2011. Presse 2011-2012.
  • Notre liste de vidéos sur les pesticides et notre liste de vidéos sur les perturbateurs endocriniens.

Caitlyn Jenner meets Some of her Critics

Caitlyn Jenner goes to High School, May 2016

Video published on 5 May 2016 by KASH channel.

The reality star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner, who has been denounced for her politics by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, visited a high school in Brooklyn with Nicholas Kristof to meet some of her critics.

One national study found that 41 percent of trans people surveyed had attempted suicide, 57 percent had experienced family rejection and almost one-fifth had endured homelessness.

More information

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products presence in waters pose threat to aquatic organisms

Degradation of PPCPs in activated sludge from different WWTPs in Denmark

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are a large group of chemicals including drugs, shampoos, soaps, fragrances and cosmetics. Following use, PPCPs are generally excreted into the sewage system. The main aim of urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is to minimise the amount of organic pollution, pathogens and nutrients in untreated waste water, that would otherwise adversely affect the nearby water bodies, soils and the environment in general. It is not the primary objective of the treatment plants to remove all the polluting substances that can be found in urban wastewater; for instance, PPCPs are not totally removed and can, therefore, be released into surface waters (or onto land, as sewage effluent is sometimes used as a fertiliser), where they may have negative effects on nearby biota.

Biodegradation of PPCPs in wastewater treatment plants — a Danish case study, Science for Environment Policy News Alert, 06 May 2016.

PPCPs have been detected in natural environments worldwide. Although they have been found at low concentrations (generally in the nanogram-per-litre range), research has shown that some PPCPs can have an environmental impact even at these low concentrations.

Degradation of PPCPs in activated sludge from different WWTPs in Denmark, Springer, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2073-2080, December 2015.

This study focused on three PPCPs in particular: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the anti-convulsant carbamazepine, and the antibacterial compound triclosan, all of which have been detected at ecologically relevant levels in sewage effluents, surface water, rivers and sediment.

Studies have shown that these compounds can exert a large biological effect even at very low concentrations. In some cases, concentrations have been sufficient to disrupt the endocrine systems of aquatic organisms, which means they could have effects including feminisation of male fish, impaired growth and mortality.

This study looked at how these substances are biodegraded (broken down by bacteria or fungi) in treatment plants. PPCPs can be broken down in ‘activated sludge’, waste which contains microorganisms cultivated to break down organic matter. Although this is a common process for treating sewage and generally considered the most effective process for removing PPCPs from wastewater, the rate of biodegradation in activated sludge is low for most compounds.

However, degradation rates vary widely between WWTPs. To determine the factors that affect the rate of degradation, this study measured the breakdown rates of six PPCPs — four NSAIDs (naproxen, ketoprofen, fenoprofen and diclofenac), carbamazepine, and triclosan — by activated sludge systems. They compared the degradation rate of the PPCPs in sludge collected from four WWTPs in Denmark, each representing a different design. The plants differed in terms of their overall capacity, average flow, operating temperature, sludge retention time (the time the activated sludge is in the treatment system) and methods of nitrogen and phosphorus removal, for example.

Sludge from each plant was incubated in a glass reactor for five days, with PPCPs at a concentration of 0.1 milligrams per litre. Although this concentration is higher than would be expected in municipal WWTPs, it enabled the team to identify the concentration decrease due to biodegradation of the compounds.

The most rapidly degraded chemicals were the NSAIDs, followed by triclosan. However, diclofenac (also an NSAID) did not break down, as was the case for carbamazepine. Degradation rates may differ between compounds due to different physical and chemical characteristics, which may explain why some chemicals showed consistently high degradation rates while others were persistent.

There were also differences between treatment plants. For example, fenoprofen was removed with a half-life of two hours in the reactor with sludge from Aalborg West, while its half-life in the Aalborg East sludge was 25 hours.

Factors that influence the breakdown of PPCPs include biomass concentration, sludge retention time, temperature and pH. The physico-chemical conditions of the treatment process can also have an influence, but in this study were kept the same between bioreactors. Furthermore, all bioreactors were kept at room temperature and no pH changes were detected.

Although biomass concentration is thought to be important in the degradation of chemical pollutants, the researchers could not find any correlation with PPCP degradation. However, sludge retention time was associated with PPCP degradation. The optimal time was found to be between 14 and 20 days. With retention times under 14 days, less degradation was likely to occur, but retention periods above 20 days did not improve PPCP degradation any further.

Overall, the researchers conclude the biological composition of the sludge itself (e.g. the number of specialised microbes it contains) is more important for degradation than the design of the treatment plant.

Aide aux enfants malades du cancer : l’Association Ametist

Cancer : pour la Liberté de Choix thérapeutique – Carine Curtet

Vidéo publiée le 12 novembre 2015 par la chaîne Des Maux et Des Mots.

Carine Curtet est présidente de l’association A.M.E.T.I.S.T. Soutien sans faille du service d’oncologie du Docteur Nicole Delépine, à l’hôpital de Garches, l’association défend la liberté thérapeutique pour les enfants atteints de cancer.

Sur le même sujet

  • Dans cette interview, Carine Curtet explique que les enfants atteints de cancer sont systématiquement enrôlés dans des essais thérapeutiques sans possibilité de bénéficier de traitements existants. En 2008, sur 1700 cas de cancers pédiatriques, 800 essais thérapeutiques étaient engagés. Aujourd’hui, c’est trois fois plus. La présidente d’A.M.E.T.I.S.T dénonce les menaces faites aux parents si ces derniers demandent un traitement ancien ayant fait ses preuves, certains se retrouvant traînés devant un juge de tutelle.
  • Nos liste de vidéos sur l’industie médicale et pharmaceutique.