DES (diethylstilbesterol)was a form of sythetic estrogen prescribed for pregnant women who were at risk for miscarriage, from about 1938 - 1971. There have been a rash of recent stories in various press outlets about new research showing that daughters exposed to DES before they were born are much more likely to develop breast cancer. There is much older research showing the same group is much more likely to develop CCA, a clear cell adenocarcinoma, a very rare cancer in non-DES exposed women, of the vagina and cervix. There are evidently other studies looking at increased incidence of auto-immune disease in DES daughters, problems for DES sons and even possible higher risks for the so-called "3rd generation," grandchildren of the women who took the DES.
Here are some helpful sites if you are concerned, or have reference questions on the matter:
DES Action Link
a non-profit support, education and advocacy group
Centers for Disease Control link
an excellent site from the federal government, full of information and links
Breast Cancer Action link
A newsletter dated 2003, but still reporting on increased risks for DES-exposed women.
(Take this next site with a grain of salt, but it does have helpful links to resources, and analysis. However, it does not have the even-handed treatment of the first two sites:)
Our Stolen Future link This is the source of the image I used to decorate this blog entry. It is an actual advertisement for DES.
And finally, websites about a law suit growing out of the research:
Parker & Waichman link
Helpful information about the research, but again, this website is looking to sign you up as a client, so take it with a grain of salt.
Aaron Levine link
More helpful summaries of research, from a firm that claims they specialize in DES -related litigation.