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The DES Follow-Up Study investigates the long-term health consequences associated with exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). Since 1992, the National Cancer Institute, in collaboration with research centers throughout the United States has been conducting the DES Follow-Up Study of more than 21,000 mothers, daughters, and sons.

* The DES Action link is not associated with NCI.

STUDY UPDATE: Prenatal Diethylstilbestrol Exposure and Risk of Obesity in Adult Women

Some studies in animals suggest that prenatal DES exposure is linked to obesity and to abnormal metabolism of glucose. Using data from the National Cancer Institute DES Follow-Up Study, we evaluated the association between prenatal DES exposure and adult obesity. To do this, we looked at factors like weight gain, body mass index (BMI a measure of body fatness) and waist circumference among 2,871 women exposed to DES before their birth and also among 1,352 who were not exposed to DES. Continue reading


Studies Underway

Thanks to your support of the DES Follow-up Study, the information you have provided, including from the most recent 2011 follow study, allows us to keep exploring the health effects of prenatal DES exposure. We are:

  • Examining the impact of prenatal DES exposure on the risk of developing:
    • cancer and other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, in men and women;
    • cervical dysplasia, breast density, benign breast disease, and breast carcinoma in situ in women; and
    • benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in men;
  • Evaluating factors contributing to vaginal tissue changes in DES exposed women such as dose and timing of exposure during pregnancy;
  • Reassessing information from the Third Generation Study (the granddaughters study) to determine the health effects among women whose mothers were exposed to DES in utero.

Study of Genetic Markers in DES Exposed Daughters Pilot Study Completed

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and Boston University are currently attempting to study whether genetic changes and hormone concentrations differ between women who were and were not prenatally exposed to DES. A small pilot study of 60 women (30 who were exposed to DES and 30 who were not) has been completed. Blood samples were drawn from women participating in our long-term DES Follow-up Study of the health effects of DES exposure. The samples are currently being sent to a laboratory for measurements. The findings of this pilot study may have profound implications for the ways in which endocrine disruption in the fetus influences human health in later life.


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