Toxic Bodies: the history of endocrine disrupting chemicals

LIVING ON EARTH with Jeff Young and Nancy Langston

Endocrine disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A have been making news lately, with several states passing regulations limiting or banning their use. The trajectory of BPA is similar to another chemical, commonly known as DES, once prescribed for pregnant and menopausal women. Host Jeff Young talks with Professor Nancy Langston about the history of endocrine disrupting chemicals and how this history can inform future chemical regulation. Her book is called, “Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES.” (published March 19, 2010).

Press Play > to listen to the recording.

Sources and more information

Our SoundCloud Playlists
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Wyeth’s Estrogens – American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1940s advert

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was the first synthetic estrogen to be marketed to women

Wyeth's-Estrogens advert image
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), the first synthetic estrogen to be marketed to women.
  • An ad from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1943.
  • Image sources: Protecting Our Bodies from Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals: A Precautionary Tale, thesolutionsjournal, Feb 2011.
  • Watch our diaporama and DES adverts album on Flickr.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Toxic Bodies – Book Video Trailer

Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES, 2010

Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES book trailer by Nancy Langston, Yale University Press, 2010. Video uploaded on 8 Oct 2010 by Nancy Langston.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Precaution Principle: regulating Diethylstilbestrol DES, Endocrine Disruptors, Environmental Health

by Nancy Langston, Professor of environmental studies and forestry

The Retreat from Precaution: Regulating Diethylstilbestrol (DES), Endocrine Disruptors, and Environmental Health
Discovering and regulating DES by Nancy Langston

– Abstract –
” Rates of intersexuality, reproductive cancers, and infertility appear to be increasing. Many researchers suspect that a key role is played by endocrine disruptors – the industrial pollutants that mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine systems that shape sexual development.
Yet, for all the concern raised by a flood of experimental research showing endocrine disruption in animals and epidemiological studies suggesting effects on human reproduction, the U.S. government has essentially failed to regulate these chemicals, retreating from a precautionary principle that would require caution in the use of potentially toxic chemicals. Debates in the 1930s and 1940s over the regulation of diethylstilbestrol (DES), the first synthetic estrogen and the first chemical known to act as an endocrine disruptor, show how political pressures, scientific uncertainty, and changing conceptual models of gender and health led to this retreat from precaution “.

Sources © Copyright 2004 by Environmental History
The Retreat from Precaution: Regulating Diethylstilbestrol (DES), Endocrine Disruptors, and Environmental Health by Nancy Langston
Professor of environmental studies and forestry

From the same author:
Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES

Pr. Nancy Langston shows how chemicals have penetrated into every aspect of our bodies and ecosystems

Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES on Flickr
Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES on Flickr

More info: Toxic Bodies website and author Professor N Langston.

In 1941 the FDA approved diethylstilbestrol use. In this gripping exploration, Nancy Langston shows how these chemicals have penetrated into every aspect of our bodies and ecosystems, yet the U.S. government has largely failed to regulate them and has skillfully manipulated scientific uncertainty to delay regulation. Personally affected by endocrine disruptors, Professor Langston argues that the FDA needs to institute proper regulation of these commonly produced synthetic chemicals.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources