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DES: The Pill that Left a Generation Blighted by Cancer
Heather Justice was just 25 when cervical cancer struck. To save her life, surgeons had to perform radical — and distressing — surgery to remove her womb and vagina, but unfortunately that wasn’t the end of her ordeal. Further investigations led to the start of one of Britain’s longest-running and most shocking drug scandals. Heather, now 59, was the UK’s first confirmed case of DES-related injury. DES, or diethylstilboestrol, was prescribed to pregnant women — including Heather’s mother Gladys — from the 50s to the 70s in the mistaken belief that it prevented miscarriage. Instead, it left behind a hidden legacy of damage to the fetus.