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Increased attention to women's health research has yielded gains on some important conditions, but progress lags on others
Date:9/23/2010

and resources if we are to see better prevention and treatment in more areas. And across all areas, researchers need to take into account the effects of both biologically determined sex differences and socially determined gender differences as a routine part of conducting research."

Historically, researchers recruited women to clinical studies less often than men in part because of ethical concerns about potential fetal exposure to experimental substances; the flux of hormones in women's bodies, which could complicate studies; and the assumption that results of studies on men could be extrapolated to women. However, trial results were not necessarily applicable or consistently applied to women, as demonstrated by the unequal use of stents, beta blockers, and cholesterol-lowering drugs to treat heart disease in women. Moreover, the symptoms and courses of diseases in males do not always correspond to what happens in females. Inadequate research focus on women's health issues was first comprehensively documented in 1985, which led to a transformation in government and public support of women's health research and in related policies and regulations.

Requirements for researchers to enroll women in clinical trials have enabled many advances. Yet the full benefit of increased participation by women has not been realized because researchers do not routinely analyze and report results separately for women and men, the committee observed. This limits the breadth and depth of clinical information that could facilitate more effective interventions and treatments for women. Journal editors should adopt a guideline that all papers reporting outcomes of clinical trials must present data on men and women separately unless a trial focuses on a sex-specific condition such as prostate cancer, the report says. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should enforce companies' compliance with requirements to provide sex-specific data on the eff
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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