Sunday, June 28, 2009

DES as a Model of Damage to our Children

In 1998 I published my first novel, Rx for Mass Murder, which contained the hypotheses that intrauterine exposure to DES administered by prescription to pregnant women in the fifties and early sixties was a cause of the AIDs epidemic and gender selection in the male offspring of those pregnancies. I remember quite clearly the 'Aha' moment when I decided to write this work. I was sitting at a restaurant in Chicago with a distinguished scientist from Sweden, John-Gunnar Forsberg in 1985 preparing him for his testimony in a DES daughter trial. In this particular case, the young woman had suffered vaginal cancer as a result of her mother taking DES. We had tried the case initially in 1978, but the case was reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for reasons not germane to the present discussion. We had come back to Chicago to retry the case in 1985. Dr. Forsberg had testified in the 1978 trial based on his experimental work with rodents during which he established the mouse as the model for what was being observed in human beings. He had been able to replicate everything that had been observed in humans in mice and this type of cross species correlation is considered in the scientific community to be a strong predictor and indicator of causality in the human. Between 1978 and 1985 Dr. Forsberg had performed additional research on this subject which he described to me in that Chicago restaurant. He described with particularity his findings that the mice offspring who developed cancer after being exposed in utero to DES did so as a result of damage to their immune systems; specifically, the T-cell lymphocytes in these animals were missing or significantly reduced. At that point in time, the American public was being made generally aware of the scope of the AIDs problem in homosexual men, including its relationship to T-cell lymphocyte levels. The big moment with Dr. Forsberg came when I said "This would suggest that the current
AIDs epidemic may be due to DES exposure in males in the fifties?" and Dr. Forsberg's response was "Quite right, quite right."

It took me nearly ten years to write the book, but the success or rather lack of success of that effort is also not important to this discussion. What is important is that I have followed the scientific literature avidly since that meeting with Dr. Forsberg, both before and since the publication of the novel. I have read nothing to dispute the veracity of my hypothesis and should note that scientists with far greater qualifications than mine have written extensively about the likelihood that AIDs is not being caused by HIV, but some type of intrauterine exposure. It should also be noted that Americans are inundated with exposures to hormonal agents which have been administered to beef cattle (and formerly chickens) since the 19th mid-century.

All of this information is prefatory to discuss briefly a paper published the past two weeks by the Endocrine Society. Endocrine is the general term for hormones. The Society presents the "evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology." "Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals" (EDC) as described in this paper "implicate EDCs as a significant concern to public health." To paraphrase a recently popular and overworked expression, "that's what I was talking about" in my novel. Below I have included the abstract of this detailed report.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement

Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Linda C. Giudice, Russ Hauser, Gail S. Prins, Ana M. Soto, R. Thomas Zoeller and Andrea C. Gore
Endocrine Section of First Department of Medicine (E.D.-K.), Laiko Hospital, Medical School University of Athens, 11527 Athens, Greece; Department of Pediatrics (J.-P.B.), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liege, 4000 Liege, Belgium; Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences (L.C.G.), University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94131; Department of Environmental Health (R.H.), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; Department of Urology (G.S.P.), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology (A.M.S.), Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111; Biology Department (R.T.Z.), University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003; and Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology (A.C.G.), The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712

Correspondence: Address all correspondence and requests for reprints to: Andrea C. Gore, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, College of Pharmacy, 1 University Station, A1915, Austin, Texas 78712. E-mail:

There is growing interest in the possible health threat posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are substances in our environment, food, and consumer products that interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, or action resulting in a deviation from normal homeostatic control or reproduction. In this first Scientific Statement of The Endocrine Society, we present the evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology. Results from animal models, human clinical observations, and epidemiological studies converge to implicate EDCs as a significant concern to public health. The mechanisms of EDCs involve divergent pathways including (but not limited to) estrogenic, antiandrogenic, thyroid, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor , retinoid, and actions through other nuclear receptors; steroidogenic enzymes; neurotransmitter receptors and systems; and many other pathways that are highly conserved in wildlife and humans, and which can be modeled in laboratory in vitro and in vivo models. Furthermore, EDCs represent a broad class of molecules such as organochlorinated pesticides and industrial chemicals, plastics and plasticizers, fuels, and many other chemicals that are present in the environment or are in widespread use. We make a number of recommendations to increase understanding of effects of EDCs, including enhancing increased basic and clinical research, invoking the precautionary principle, and advocating involvement of individual and scientific society stakeholders in communicating and implementing changes in public policy and awareness.

1 comment:

Ingio said...

At any rate, I liked some of the vadlo science cartoons!