Women are largely neglected in medical research, according to a new study.
Data collection for medical advances may be aimed primarily at men, and this bias could negatively affect the health of women. This lack of detail surrounding gender differences occurs at all stages of research.
Most studies of both humans and animals center on male subject, The study states that even when females are included in research, results are not usually detailed by gender.
There are several difference between genders when it comes to health. Women are more prone to die from cardiovascular disease then men, for instance. The disorders are the leading cause of death among American women. Still, just one-third of all subjects taking part is clinical trials to treat the disorders are female. Of the studies performed for these diseases, two-thirds do not reveal results by gender.
The study was conducted by the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health at George Washington University in Washington.
Women suffer from depression 70 percent more often then their male counterparts. In animal studies investigating the causes of that affliction, 85 percent of test subjects are male.
Lung cancer among women who do not smoke tobacco is three times more common than among non-smoking males. This type of cancer kills more women in the U.S. every year than breast, uterine and ovarian cancers combined. Estrogen may be the cause of this difference, but studies usually fail to detail results by gender of the subject being tested.
Medical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are required to included females in both human and animal research. This law, passed by Congress 20 years ago, does not apply to private research or cellular studies.
Another driving force behind the under-representation of women in studies could be institutions of learning. Men comprise 95 percent of all medical professors in the country, and head most research.
A lack of medical studies centered on women is nothing new. The problem has been noted since 1895. The report concludes that improvements have been made, but a lot of work remains for women.
The new findings will be announced a a national conference on women's health issues, being held in Boston.
Some researchers avoid using women in studies due to fluctuating hormone levels over the course of every month. But, the price of standardization may be a lack of medical advances for females.
"We've got to do the work and change the way science is done and translated to clinical care. Until we do that, we are putting women's health at risk," Paula Johnson, executive director of the Connors Center, told the Chicago Tribune.