Bottle of Stilboestrol tablets, London, England, c.1960-1970
Stilboestrol belongs to a group of medicines called synthetic, or man-made, oestrogens. This naturally occurring hormone is produced by the body. Along with progesterone it is vital for reproduction. Stilboestrol is now used to fight specific cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer. However, from 1938 the drug was prescribed to women to prevent miscarriages. It was largely unsuccessful. It was banned for this purpose in 1971 in Aus-tralia and the US. Stilboestrol remains controversial. Studies suggest girls exposed to the drug in-utero (when their mothers were pregnant) have an increased chance of developing ovarian and cervical cancers. This glass bottle of Stilboestrol tablets was manufactured by Organon Laboratories Limited in London.
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Also known as a pill, it is made by compressing a powdered form of one or more drugs. It is usually taken by mouth, but may be inserted into a different body cavity.
A female hormone. Oestrogen is first produced by a girl at puberty. It regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterus for pregnancy. Oestrogen is present in males, but in very low levels.
Glossary: materia medica
A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.
Glossary: tablet bottle