The drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) may lead to different genetic response to the female hormone estrogen, when exposed to it early in life.
The drug DES was prescribed to women for prevention of miscarriages, from the year 1938 to 1971. Research says that daughters of women who had used the drug are at increased risk from reproductive tract abnormalities, ectopic pregnancy, pre-term delivery, infertility, and rare form of vaginal and cervical cancer called clear-cell adenocarcinoma. These women may also be at increased risk from tumor of the uterus.
Previously it was held that the harmful ingredients of the environment only cause genetic changes. The research brings into light the way genetic changes happen in an individual from harmful drugs while still in the womb of the mother.
Researchers feel that the study shows how environmental changes along with changed genetic responses increase the risk of cancer. The study in this regard may help the medical practioners to understand which patients are more likely to be at a high risk from cancer, and also to take a look into their medical histories even before birth.
The research report came out in the May edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.