Drug To Prevent Miscarriage Increases Odds for Breast Cancer

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Decades ago, women have taken  a certain drug that lessens the risk of miscarriage. However, just recently, researchers have found out that the complications and side effects of this drug has placed their daughters at higher risk for breast cancer and other health threats. Many of the daughters are already forty years old and over by this time, they may have never known of their risk hadn’t they been told by their mothers that they have used this certain synthetic estrogen drug called DES.

This new study suggests that these people also have twice the risk of suffering from infertility and the risk for having breast cancer is doubled in these daughters. Among them is Debbie Wingard, a 59 year old woman from San Diego who adopted two boys after finding out that she was infertile. Apart from that, Debbie has also suffered from breast cancer twice, when she was 39 and 49 years old.

“There’s no knowing what’s going to happen as we age. There’s always the fear there’s going to be another cancer or another outcome,” said Debbie. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I feel it’s behind me.”

Aside from the risk that DES has brought about to the daughters, the sons also face health risks for testicular problems and cysts—however these have not been extensively studied and are not as common as the risks of women. Also, the risks for the third generation—the grandchildren of the mothers who took DES during their pregnancy, is still unknown. Several researches have pointed out that the daughters suffered from either late onset menstruation and irregular periods—common signs of fertility issues.

In the US alone, it is estimated that 2 million women and 2 million men were exposed to DES while inside the womb of their mothers, and are encourgaed to discuss with their physicians about their risks and when they should be screened for the possible health threats that they may face.

“We don’t want to cause a panic of everyone rushing out thinking they’re going to get cervical or breast cancer. They just need to have that conversation with their physician,” shared Dr. Sharmila Makhija, Chief of Women’s Health of the University of Louisville.

In an average, one out of every fifty women has a chance of getting breast cancer when she reaches 55; while for daughters exposed to DES, the risk becomes one out of every 25 women. The risks for other health problems like infertility, etc vary.

In 1971, the government has decided to stop the use of the drug DES because it has been found to be ineffective, and due to the findings that the daughters who were in their late teens and early twenties have a high risk of a rare form of vaginal cancer.

The following data show the risks of these daughters to several health risks:

—Breast cancer, 3.9 percent versus 2.2 percent.

—Cervical pre-cancer, 6.9 percent versus 3.4 percent.

—Infertility, 33.3 percent versus 15.5 percent.

—Early menopause, 5.1 percent versus 1.7 percent

 

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  1. [...] Drug To Prevent Miscarriage Increases Odds for Breast Cancer Heal Blog (blog) – ?Oct 5, 2011 [...]

  2. [...] mistaken believe that the drug called diethylstilbestrol or DES for short, helped stop miscarriages was the reason why it was given to more than a thousand [...]

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