Health Research Organization Can Help Inform Colorado’s Older Adult Women

The national Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) engages in focused research on biological sex differences in disease with a goal of improving women’s health through science and education. Among its key goals is raising awareness of disparities and unmet needs in women’s health. SWHR notes that until about 25 years ago, virtually all health research was conducted on men, with women largely excluded from participating in most clinical trials. Why? Partly because it was believed female hormonal cycles were too difficult to manage in experiments and partly because it was believed using only one sex in trials would promote consistency in results. Researchers assumed that they could simply apply their male-only study results to females. It’s now known this set a dangerous precedent that overlooked fundamental differences between women and men. SWHR points out that biological differences between women and men go beyond basic anatomy and reach down to the cellular level. “These differences affect disease risk, pathophysiology, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment,” says SWHR. In 1993 Congress sought to remedy the male-only research bias by passing the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, which mandated the inclusion of women and minorities in NIH-funded clinical trials. In the same year, the Food and Drug Administration changed its policies to require the inclusion of women in efficacy studies and in the analysis of data on sex differences. In 2016, the NIH implemented a new policy stating that sex as a biological variable should be factored into preclinical research and reporting in human studies. A lingering result of the early exclusion is a present-day gap in knowledge about women’s health and the role that differences between women and men play in health and disease. SWHR works to address this gap through its own scientific studies, advocacy, and education. Its research includes all health conditions for which women and men experience differences in risk, presentation, and treatment response, as well as health issues specific to women, such as pregnancy and menopause. Visit https://swhr.org/ to access SWHR webinars, articles, personal stories, research updates, and more.

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