Abigail Mackey

Column Abigail Mackey

Health columnist Abigail Mackey writes "The Written Remedy" for the Observer-Reporter.

When it comes to medicine, gender matters

April 19, 2013

Oh, gender.

It’s inspired entire sub-disciplines of anthropology, sociology and psychology. It’s made the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” one rich human. It’s the villain of many a marital spat.

Now, it may change the way certain illnesses are treated.

In a recent study published in a fancy science journal (Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, for you fellow nerds), investigators have identified five clinical areas with considerable evidence for treating men and women differently: cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver diseases, osteoporosis and pharmacology (or drugs.)

Why the misunderstanding? Because women are better multi-taskers, have a mothering instinct and tend to act with more emotional intelligence.

Oh wait, were we talking about medicine? Okay, well it applies there, too.

Medical treatment to this point has not considered applicable social and psychological differences between the sexes, in addition to not properly acknowledging differences in the interpretation of symptoms.

In an additional (and shocking) bit of gender bias, much of the medical research over the past 40 years has focused almost exclusively on male patients.

We get colon cancer later, react differently to chemotherapy, have GI symptoms during a heart attack and enjoy long walks on the beach after surprise candlelight dinners.

Taking notes?

A registered nurse, web columnist Abby Mackey is author of the blog The Written Remedy and the Pittsburgh Pregnancy Examiner for Examiner.com. She is a freelance healthcare writer for the Observer-Reporter. Follow her here and on Twitter: @AbigailMackeyRN.



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