Caitlin’s previous posts for us on the DES ‘disgrace’ (one linked by Huffington Post) have helped lead to an historic statement recently issued by the FDA; Caitlin was featured in a DES cover story this month in the Boston Globe magazine.
Caitlin McCarthy is an award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has a screenplay project in development: RESISTANCE with Populus Pictures and Si Wall (SPEED DATE; THE DINNER PARTY). In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school.
The DES (Diethylstilbestrol) Drug Disaster, 40 Years Later: The Tragedy Is Far From Over By Caitlin McCarthy
April 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the DES cancer link being made at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. DES (diethylstilbestrol), a toxic and carcinogenic synthetic estrogen, is considered the world’s first drug disaster. It was prescribed to millions of pregnant women for decades: from 1938 until 1971 (and in a small number of cases for several years thereafter) in the United States; and until the mid-1980s in parts of Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Third World. The currently proven effects of exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES Daughters; greater risk for breast cancer in DES Mothers; possible risk for testicular cancer in DES Sons; abnormal reproductive organs; infertility; high-risk pregnancies; and an increased risk for breast cancer in DES Daughters after age 40. There are a number of other suspected effects, including auto-immune disorders, but many of these effects are still awaiting further research.
I’m a DES Daughter who was born at the tail end of the tragedy in the U.S. My mother was unknowingly prescribed a prenatal vitamin which contained DES. I didn’t discover my DES exposure until 2005, when a doctor made the connection during a colposcopy. How scary is that?
What’s even scarier is that I’m not alone. Around the world, there are thousands – maybe even millions – of people walking around today, totally unaware that they, too, were exposed to DES. All of these people are not receiving proper medical treatment, or making truly informed decisions about their healthcare, as a result. (more…)