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New study cites top gender-based health differences

Female Health

November 2, 1998
Web posted at: 6:42 p.m. EST (2342 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A women's health advocacy group has released a list of what its doctors and health researchers say are the top ten health differences between men and women. According to the "Annual Women's Health Research Update," this year's categories are:

  • STDs -- Women are two times more likely than men to contract a sexually transmitted disease and ten times more likely to contract HIV during unprotected sex with an infected partner.
  • Depression -- Women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from depression, in part because women's brains make less of the chemical serotonin.
  • Osteoporosis -- Women make up 80 percent of the population suffering from osteoporosis, which is attributable to a higher rate of bone loss in women.
  • Lung Cancer -- Women smokers are 20 percent to 70 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than male smokers.
  • Heart Disease -- Women are more likely than men to have a second heart attack within a year of the first one.
  • Anesthesia -- Women tend to wake up from anesthesia more quickly than men -- an average of 7 minutes for women and 11 minutes for men.
  • Autoimmune Disease -- Three out of four people suffering from autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are women.
  • Alcohol -- After consuming the same amount of alcohol, women have higher blood alcohol content than men.
  • Pain -- Some pain medications (known as kappa-opiates) are far more effective in relieving pain in women than in men.
  • Drug reactions -- Even common drugs such as antihistamines and antibiotics can cause different reactions and side effects in women and men.

"My wife told me we could have known that without doing research -- than men aren't very sensitive in many areas," said Dr. Raymond Woosley of Georgetown University Medical School.

The "Annual Women's Health Research Update" was compiled and released by The Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research, a non-profit organization based in Washington. Its mission is to increase research in women's health, recruit women for clinical trials, and better understand gender-based health differences.

The gender-based health differences cited in the study are nothing new. Studies continue to reinforce some basic health differences between men and women.

However, the group believes women have been under-represented in many scientific studies to date, and the group's sole mission is to improve the health of women through research.

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