SWHR urges women to learn about their unique health issues

Cardiovascular disease kills 50,000 more American women than men each year and women who smoke are more likely than men to develop two of the worst types of lung cancer. National Women's Health Week is May 9-15 and the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) urges women to learn how their unique biological makeup affects the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these and many other diseases.

"Most women are unaware of the many health areas where they are affected disproportionately or differently than men," Sherry Marts, Ph.D., SWHR vice president for scientific affairs, said. "For instance, eight of 10 prescription drugs recently withdrawn from the market caused more adverse events in women than men. Recognizing theses differences can help empower both sexes to better understand and take control of their health."

In 1995, SWHR founder and current board member Florence Haseltine, M.D., Ph.D., coined the term "gender-based biology," which was later modified to "sex-based biology," to refer to the study of biological and behavioral differences between males and females and the impact of those differences on health and disease.

Women were initially excluded from clinical research due to liability concerns and historical precedence and the result was the "male norm" of research. The scientific knowledge gap and resulting health care disparity was the driving force behind the SWHR's formation.

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