Diethylstilbestrol (DES), the first orally active artificial estrogen ever developed, was prescribed to several million pregnant women during the 1940s through the 1960s in the mistaken belief that it reduced the risk of miscarriage.
In daughters whose mothers took DES during pregnancy, the drug has been associated with congenital malformations of the reproductive tract, fertility problems, a possible increased risk of cervical carcinoma in situ, and a presumed lifetime risk of vaginal and cervical CCA.
DES mothers have an increased risk of breast cancer (RR = 1.3).
DES sons have an increased prevalence of urogenital anomalies, and a possible increased risk of testicular cancer.
Sources and more information
DES exposure and the aging woman: mothers and daughters, Current women’s health reports, NCBI PMID: 12215312, 2002 Oct;2(5):390-3..
Testicular cancer may be elevated among DES-exposed men
2001 Study Abstract
An association between prenatal Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure and cancer in men, especially testicular cancer, has been suspected, but findings from case-control studies have been inconsistent. This study was conducted to investigate the association between prenatal DES exposure and cancer risk in men via prospective follow-up.
A total of 3613 men whose prenatal DES exposure status was known were followed from 1978 through 1994. The overall and site-specific cancer incidence rates among the DES-exposed men were compared with those of the unexposed men in the study and with population-based rates. The relative rate (RR) was used to assess the strength of the association between prenatal DES exposure and cancer development. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Overall cancer rates among DES-exposed men were similar to those among unexposed men (RR = 1.07; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.58 to 1.96) and to national rates (RR = 0.99; 95% CI = 0.65 to 1.44). Testicular cancer may be elevated among DES-exposed men, since the RRs for testicular cancer were 3.05 (95% CI = 0.65 to 22.0) times those of unexposed men in the study and 2.04 (95% CI = 0.82 to 4.20) times those of males in the population-based rates. The higher rate of testicular cancer in the DES-exposed men is, however, also compatible with a chance observation.
To date, men exposed to DES in utero do not appear to have an increased risk of most cancers. It remains uncertain, however, whether prenatal DES exposure is associated with testicular cancer.
Cancer risk in men exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol,NCBI, PMID: 11287449, 2001 Apr 4;93(7):545-51. Full text: Oxford Journals Medicine & Health International Journal of Epidemiology link.
The incidence of testicular cancer has increased among American males over 15 years of age for more than 20 years and while overall incidence is still highest among Caucasian males, the greatest increase was observed in the Hispanic community, according to a new study at the 108th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association.
DES Action USAcommented: ” Experts speculate prenatal estrogen exposures may be to blame. All men – and especially DES Sons – should practice testicular self-exam regularly! ”
Want to know more about the pregnancy drug DiEthylStilbestrol?
New AFSSAPS DES survey and update
DES historical facts, current issues, risks associated with DES exposure, breast cancer risks, post adolescent psychiatric disorders, risks for the 3rd generation, DES pregnancy care.
DES Sons Numbers and Health Concerns
Although less is known about the consequences of diethylstilbestrol exposure in men than in women, important DES health concerns have been identified.
DES Sons Studies
The most common reported health issues in DES sons studies are epididymal cysts, testicular problems, testicular cancer, infertility, psychological and neurological effects.
Gender Identity and DES Exposure
Dr. Dana Beyer radio interview on the significant evidence linking prenatal Diethylstilbestrol DES exposure with gender identity and transsexual development.