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Women’s Health

Shocking health timebomb of the anti-miscarriage drug given to 10,000 patients

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Generations of women last night called for an urgent evaluation of a drug they call “silent thalidomide”.

A synthetic estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES) was given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage – and to dry out breast milk. But it has since been linked to a number of health conditions, including cancer, infertility, and early menopause.

An investigation by the Daily Mail today reveals the devastating effects of this little-known drug that has ravaged the bodies of three generations of British women since 1940.

Marion McMillan, 73, received DES 50 years ago to dry up her breast milk after putting her baby up for adoption. The mother of three now has terminal cancer.

She said, “I think it’s worse than thalidomide because your subsequent children and grandchildren could be affected.”

It’s incredible that DES is still used to treat prostate cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer. MPs and victims last night called for an investigation into DES and an awareness campaign to identify the victims.

Mrs McMillan with her baby boy before she had to put him up for adoption in 1966 (picture)

Terminal Cancer: Marion McMillan (left and right) was prescribed DES after putting her baby up for adoption in 1966, now has terminal cancer

Cancer and Infertility Heartbreak for Sisters

Two sisters who were sterile after their mother took DES while pregnant say they were heartbroken by the chemical’s devastating effects.

Claire Manson and Lesley Benson believe they suffered tragic effects from DES – including cervical cancer and ovarian failure – after exposure to the drug in the womb.

“It has taken my whole life for people to understand the link between DES and other diseases,” said Ms. Manson. ‘The impact on you is very great.’

Her mother, Hilda Manson, of Leeds, received the “miracle cure” DES in the US and then in the UK after suffering multiple miscarriages.

She developed breast cancer at 70 and died of Alzheimer’s at the age of 86.

Ms. Benson, 70, and Ms. Manson, 68, said they knew their mother took DES and made their first smears when they were teenagers.

At the age of 31, Ms. Benson developed early-stage cervical cancer that was being treated.

Ms. Manson’s period began to stop in her early 30s and she suffered from ovarian failure when she was 32.

Cancer: Lesley Benson

Cancer: Lesley Benson

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates 10,000 female patients received DES during pregnancy, but in the absence of a record, the true extent of the tragedy is unknown.

The effects can be passed down through generations, meaning tens of thousands of victims may not know that they or their parents were exposed to the drug.

Women who took the drug – “DES mothers” – have a 30 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Your “DES daughters” are 40 times more likely to develop adenocarcinoma, a form of cervical cancer; eight times more likely to have neonatal deaths and almost five times more likely to give birth prematurely.

Women exposed to the drug are also at risk of early menopause, infertility, and ectopic pregnancies.

The sons of mothers who took the drug are at increased risk of infertility and testicular cancer.

One victim died of breast cancer two years after taking DES and passed down health problems such as cancer and early menopause to their daughter and granddaughters.

Two daughters of a woman who took DES during pregnancy are infertile.

One developed early-stage cervical cancer and the other suffered ovarian failure at 32.

Ms. McMillan said that “most” of the women in her mother-and-child home in Newcastle were given the drug to dehydrate their milk because few babies were breastfed.

“At night the girls were given a multivitamin and the girls said, ‘Can I get DES because my milk hasn’t dried out?’ ‘, She said.

“It was like saying, ‘I have a headache, can I have aspirin?’ ‘

Ms. McMillan was instructed to take 16 tablets a day for almost a week after she was born in 1966.

After the first dose, she became “very nauseous” but was told to keep taking it.

DES was developed by British biochemist Sir Edward Charles Dodds in 1938, but he failed to patent the product, allowing more than 200 pharmaceutical companies around the world to manufacture it.

Dodds’ experiments showed that DES, known in the UK as stilbestrol, can cause miscarriages in rabbits and rats.

Even so, the Medical Research Council approved its use in 1939.

It has been used widely in the United States, where five million people are believed to have come into contact with the drug.

A 1953 study showed it was ineffective in preventing miscarriages, but the drug was still used.

In 1971, research revealed the link between exposure to DES in the womb and a rare form of cervical cancer.

The Drug Safety Committee wrote to doctors in 1973 to advise against the use of DES in pregnant and premenopausal women.

Su Robotti, executive director of the DES Action campaign group, said the drug has a “terrible” history but is less well known than thalidomide because its damage is less visible.

Ms. Robotti said, “Doctors have been told that DES will help women avoid miscarriages, but it has not.

Worse, it harmed both the mothers given the DES and their fetuses. We learned of the horrific effects thalidomide was causing much faster because we could see them. ‘

Ms. McMillan from Scotland doesn’t know if her terminal cancer is related to DES but said she was “very suspicious”.

‘It wasn’t until I saw research on DES that I thought,’ Oh no, what did I do with my kids? ‘

As a teenager, her daughter had a cyst removed from an ovary.

“It’s a hidden time bomb, it’s just awful,” said Ms. McMillan.

She called for a full examination and review of maternity ward medical records to try to track down the victims.

Pictured: Lesley Benson as a baby with her mother Hilda Manson on the Queen Elizabeth II when she returned to the UK from the USA in 1951

Pictured: Lesley Benson as a baby with her mother Hilda Manson on the Queen Elizabeth II when she returned to the UK from the USA in 1951

Lisa Cameron, an SNP MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary health group, has written to Minister of Health Sajid Javid requesting an investigation into the dangerous drug.

She said, “It is important to identify potential victims so that they can get health checks that can identify problems early on.

Women assumed this in good faith but could have caused permanent harm to their children and grandchildren.

“The government should consider financial compensation, but should also apologize and acknowledge the trauma people have suffered from this drug.”

Pictured: Janet Hall, who has requested an urgent investigation into DES and its aftermath

Pictured: Janet Hall, who has requested an urgent investigation into DES and its aftermath

While thousands of DES victims have sued pharmaceutical companies in the US, France and the Netherlands, there have been no successful cases in the UK.

The UK’s Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) said it was recognized in 1971 that DES “could cause a certain type of cancer in the daughters of women who took it in early pregnancy,” but there was no evidence to support this known to be at increased risk of breast cancer in those who took it after giving birth or in subsequent children who have had these women.

The Department of Health and Social Welfare said it has no intention of opening an investigation into DES, adding, “We support the position of the independent regulator.

“Decisions about prescribing certain drugs must be made by clinicians based on the patient’s medical needs, taking into account relevant clinical guidelines.”

Four women from the same family were struck by an illness

Three generations of women in one family suffered devastating health complications after a mother was given DES while pregnant.

Rita Milburn died of breast cancer at the age of 32 – two years after taking the drug while pregnant with her daughter, Janet.

The former nurse received a double mastectomy, but the disease spread to her lungs. She died in 1951 when her daughter was a toddler.

Now at the age of 71, Janet has endured a lifetime of health problems – including cervical cancer.

And her daughters Hannah and Beth suffer the same fate, so that she wonders if she should have had children.

She will not find out whether her three grandchildren are affected until they are adults.

“I felt bad about what I did to my daughters. I didn’t know I was going to pass medical problems on to her, ”she said.

“Of course I have to live with the fact that it could also affect my grandchildren. This is difficult.’

Miss Hall called for an urgent investigation into the aftermath of DES and said, “We can fix things for the future.”

The Bournemouth elementary school teacher said her mother received DES after a series of miscarriages following the birth of her sister Zarka.

However, the drug has had harmful effects on Miss Hall, who at age 20 had her gallbladder removed, followed by her appendix and part of her stomach.

She and Hannah also underwent painful cone biopsies to remove cancer cells from their cervix – making it difficult for them to bring babies to full birth.

Beth has also suffered three miscarriages and is said to be in early menopause.

Grandma: Rita Milburn (pictured)

Grandma: Rita Milburn (pictured)

Lifelong health problems: Her daughter Janet Hall, 71, (pictured)

Lifelong health problems: Her daughter Janet Hall, 71, (pictured)

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Women’s Health

Dubai’s Arab Health to examine why women had fewer babies during Covid-19 pandemic

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Obstetrics and gynecology experts will meet at the Arab Health Summit in Dubai this month to discuss why women have decided not to have babies because of the pandemic.

The Arab Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference will discuss trends in women’s health, including the impact of Covid-19 on reproduction and fertility.

dr Human Fatemi, medical group leader at ART Fertility Clinics in Abu Dhabi, said the pandemic has caused people to reconsider their plans to have children.

As an infertility specialist, I would not worry about Covid-19 and pregnancy

dr Human Fatemi, Medical Group Leader of ART Fertility Clinics

“The pandemic has definitely shifted the desire to become parents and the desire to have a child,” he said.

“For some patients, especially women with reduced ovarian reserve and aging, the pandemic will significantly affect their ability to have children.

“As an infertility specialist, I would not be concerned about Covid-19 and pregnancy. The key message is to maintain hygiene, wear masks, ensure social distancing and be careful. If you have a reduced ovarian reserve and want to get pregnant, don’t delay.”

Several research results show a direct link between the pandemic and women’s desire to have children.

According to research by the United Nations Population Fund, public health crises and economic shocks have long been recognized as conditions that alter reproductive behavior.

Data from the US, Europe and East Asia show sharp falls in births as of October 2020 compared to the same months last year, suggesting that Covid-19 has caused short-term fertility declines in many countries.

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that one in five Australian women changed their baby plans because of the pandemic, and one in seven women said it likely affected when they would have children, with most study cohorts ( 92 percent) decided to delay pregnancy.

This was supported by a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which reported the link between the pandemic and births in 22 high-income countries and found particularly sharp declines in southern Europe – Italy (-9.1 percent), Spain (-8.4 percent) and Portugal (-6.6 percent).

But doctors said the research doesn’t prove there’s a greater risk for pregnant women. You should follow precautions and deliver babies safely.

dr Kiran Mehndiratta, a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist at NMC Specialty Hospital Abu Dhabi, told The National in May 2020 – during the peak of the first wave – that pregnant women are not at increased risk compared to others.

However, she added, it is important to know that pregnant women’s immunity is reduced to ensure the baby is not rejected by the mother as half of its genes come from the father.

That means people with pregnancy complications like diabetes or high blood pressure, which are known risk factors for severe Covid-19, could also be at higher risk.

Most of the “very small number” of pregnant women who die at NMC Specialty Hospital, where Dr. Mehndiratta works who tested positive for Covid-19 were also asymptomatic.

“Only a few of them gradually developed a cough,” she said.

This supports theories that suggest pregnant women are no more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 than others.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference is a regular feature of Arab Health, taking place from 24th to 27th January at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The conference will host several key sessions on fertility, reproduction and Covid-19, including a session on ‘Covid-19 and the Fetus’, presented by Prof Asma Khalil, who specializes in Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St George’s University Hospital specializes. London. A session on ‘Covid-19 and the impact on fertility’ will be given by Dr. Johnny T Awwad, Executive Chairman of Women’s Services and Head of Reproductive Medicine at Sidra Medicine & Research Centre, Qatar.

Updated January 19, 2022 2:27 p.m

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Women’s Health

Menopause brings an onslaught of changes to women’s bodies. Why don’t we talk about it?

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Menopause affects 50 million women in the United States, especially when they are at the peak of their careers and personal relationships. It is usually diagnosed 12 months after a woman’s last period.

Menopause begins around age 51, on average, and brings with it a serious drop in estrogen levels that affects the body from head to toe, says Dr. Somi Javaid, a board-certified gynecologist and founder of HerMD, a growing chain of health clinics in Cinncinati specializing in menopause and sexual health.

She explains that women experience hot flashes, trouble sleeping and memory, increased anxiety and depression, dry skin, weight gain, joint problems, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, problems with orgasm, and no menstrual cycles for 12 straight months. And in the months or years leading up to menopause — a period known as perimenopause — there’s still some bleeding, and estrogen levels still drop, but not as much.

People don’t talk much about menopause because it’s a generational thing, says Sally Mueller, a former Target executive and now co-founder and CEO of wellness company Womaness.

“I’m 57, my mother hasn’t talked about her menopause. And so the baby boomers and even Gen Xers really grew up being uncomfortable talking about it because their moms didn’t talk about it. And I see it really, really changing with millennials. Millennials are breaking every taboo and starting to open the conversation, so thank goodness.”

Despite the physical symptoms, women at this stage feel confident, have wisdom to share, and feel empowered and creative, Mueller points out.

hormone replacement therapy

According to Javaid, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe for millions of women and can effectively address many of the symptoms mentioned above, as well as other hidden problems such as bone loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Timing is important with HRT. “When hormones are prescribed within the first five years of menopause, they are actually cardioprotective. As for the increased risk of breast cancer, yes, if you have an estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive tumor, you can definitely accelerate growth. However, we still haven’t proven that HRT actually causes the cancer cells to start in the first place. But for patients who have a history or a strong family history, or who have genetic mutations such as BRCA, we do not recommend hormone replacement therapy for them.”

Does HRT help women become younger again? Javaid says that in her 20 years of clinical practice, women have said their skin changes, acne disappears, and joints hurt less.

“Yes, patients are seeing a return or resolution of some of their ailments. But I want to be clear: I’m not going to take a 51-year-old patient and make her 21 again. But they definitely feel better.”

There are now non-hormonal options, such as radiofrequency treatments and CO2 lasers, that are used for vaginal dryness, Javaid points out.

Start early – learn and adapt

It’s important to understand that menopause can lead to longer-term health effects, and many women aren’t informed until they’re already through menopause, Mueller says. “It would be a much easier transition if they were educating themselves even in their 30s and early 40s.”

Javaid says she begins educating her patients in her 30s. “I always tell my patients: nobody knows your body better than you do. If your provider is not listening to you, you need another provider. … I truly encourage women to live their best life, to understand what’s going on with them, and to seek the care that fits both their choices and their lifestyle. I think the sooner they find out about this, the better they will do with their healthcare.”

Javaid says women need to eat differently, too, and she’s a big proponent of intermittent fasting to lower insulin levels, which helps with weight gain during menopause.

Also, turn to weight loads to counter osteoporosis and do pelvic floor strength training to maintain sexual function and stay continent, she adds. “We don’t want to pee on ourselves when we’re exercising, coughing, or laughing with friends.”

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Women’s Health

Do advanced therapies have a place in women’s health?

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Lehr participated in a biotech showcase session titled “Women’s Health: Progress and Innovation Continue to Generate Investor Interest.” The panel included executives from Context Therapeutics, EndoCyclic Therapeutics, Gennev, iSono Health and Univfy.

What is women’s health?

Defining women’s health seems deceptively simple, but there are many definitions, according to Biotech Showcase panelists. For some companies and investors, it is defined by certain diseases, such as hormonal diseases or diseases that affect women differently than men. For others, the term is limited to just breast cancer.

An evolving term – femtech – has emerged to refer to technologies focused on women’s health. Panelists explained that the classification helped increase visibility and make investors (traditionally a male-dominated space) intrigued and motivated to explore and learn more about the category. Ultimately, the committee called for more female investors.

Recently, femtech-focused companies and products have emerged. But according to Lehr, the innovations of this group are only incremental improvements. What the industry needs are logarithmic changes that catalyze a massive step forward toward healing.

One such innovation that has the potential to create that logarithmic jump is immunotherapy, Lehr said. Investors are already interested in this space, and getting investors to invest in female cancer immunotherapy could be transformative.

Advanced therapies for women’s cancer

Lehr explained that Context Therapeutics is a mission-driven company dedicated to women’s oncology. The company strives to develop products that improve the quality of life for women living with cancer.

The Company’s lead candidate is Onapristone Extended Release (ONA-XR), a progesterone receptor antagonist that inhibits the progesterone receptor by binding to chromatin, which in turn downregulates cancer stem cell mobilization and blocks immune evasion. The progesterone receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor that promotes progesterone-dependent cancers such as ovarian, uterine (endometrial) and breast cancer.

These cancers hijack progesterone to stimulate cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, regeneration and immune evasion. ONA-XR is currently being evaluated in four Phase II studies and the Company expects to report results from these studies in 2022.

Context is also developing Claudin 6 bispecific, an anti-CD3 x, anti-Claudin 6, antigen bispecific monoclonal antibody that redirects T cell-mediated lysis to malignant cells that express Claudin 6. Claudin 6 is a target for a tight junction protein and is particularly enriched in ovarian and endometrial tumors. The combination of precision medicine and immunotherapy aims to attack tumors directly without damaging normal tissue.

As excitement and innovation in the field continues to grow, Lehr and other Biotech Showcase panelists expressed optimism about near- and long-term progress in bringing advanced therapies and transformative technologies to the women’s health sector.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to women’s health or femtech? Contact the publisher today to learn more.

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