The Law: Taking DES to Court

When a team of Massachusetts General Hospital physicians discovered evidence of a link between a certain type of vaginal cancer and a synthetic estrogen widely taken by pregnant women over two decades, it was obvious that medicine had created a hormonal time bomb. The cancer showed up not in the women who had used diethylstilbestrol, or DES, but in their daughters—some 15 or 20 years after birth. Their sons are apparently not threatened by cancer, but there are indications that in some cases they may also be affected—by genital deformities or sterility. By 1971, when the federal Food and Drug...

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