Medicine: Hormones & Chickens

After cranberries, caponettes. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Arthur S. Flemming took aim last week at the plump, premium-priced table fowl, gave them both barrels, and shot down the nation's entire supply. Behind his action lay some farfetched reasoning that the chemical used to caponize young chickens and make them into capettes or caponettes might conceivably induce cancer in the consumer.

The facts: diethylstilbestrol (stilbestrol for short) is a synthetic of the same chemical family as the female sex hormones (estrogens). Physicians prescribe it for some women whose systems need more estrogens, for some men with prostatic cancer. Back in 1947,...

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