• DES and In Vitro Exposure
Posted by Joseph F. McWherter, MD on January 22, 2013
While I was writing my final installment on estrogen, I received an email blast from the Endocrine Society highlighting the lawsuit brought by breast cancer survivors against the manufactures of the synthetic non steroidal, DES (diethylstilbesterol).
DES is a “new to nature molecule” with a very pronounced estrogen effect listed as several times greater than the potent bio-identical hormone Estradiol. It was used for almost three decades by pregnant women to prevent miscarriage.
Let me make a disclaimer now: I do not plan to issue a medically-oriented legal opinion on this lawsuit – especially since it has been settled. Remember that in our legal system, it is not what you know, it is what you can prove. Based on my personal clinical observations, I know women who were exposed to DES while in utero (the fetal stage) who now suffer from higher incidences of:
- abnormal vaginal/cervical anatomy
- breast pathology
I also know that peer-reviewed medical literature clearly shows DES exposure in fetal rodents results in an increase in breast cancer rates. Even more troublesome are the DES-induced epigenetic breast changes – changes in gene configuration – which can be responsible for increased breast cancer rates in second and third generations (daughters and granddaughters of those originally exposed to DES in utero).
These observations, along with the peer-reviewed medical literature, would not necessarily constitute admissible proof in court. Yet, in terms of your long-term health and in my opinion, a skilled practitioner’s clinical observations trump the technical jargon of our legal system. The animal models showing detrimental DES effects are similar to those used in testing drugs such as chemotherapy. In other words, rodents are valid models to predict human responses.
Questions and answers arising from this DES suit include:
- How did the FDA ever approve the use of DES in prevention of miscarriages, especially with flimsy, non-substantiating data?
- I have no answer!
- If you were exposed to DES or your mother was exposed, what next? And how does a woman monitor her breast and pelvis health?
- The answer includes appropriate pelvic evaluations and ultrasound-enhanced pelvic exams. Thermograms, HALO Breast Pap Tests, and radiographic studies are helpful for breast health.
- Follow a “Matrix Way of Life” which includes hormonal balancing and frequent detoxification to reduce your body’ s toxic load. Supplement with epigenetic stabilizers found in cruciferous plants. (See FEM Centre’s website)
- Is timing critical regarding susceptibility of breast tissue to hormone exposure?
- The earlier the exposure of breast tissue (especially fetal exposure) to abnormal estrogen levels, the greater the chance of cancer later in life. Contrast this with exposure in menopause, which can be protective.
- Avoid needless exposure to other environmental estrogens or endocrine disruptors (discussed in another blog).
- This advice also pertains to your children – both your sons and your daughters.