George Carlin, the American comedian, once remarked when referring to God, “He, and if there is a God, I am convinced He is a He because no woman could or would screw things up this badly.” Karen Jensen, one of the world’s authorities on women’s health would agree. Her new book, Women’s Health Matters, reveals how male medical researchers and doctors screw up big time when it comes to women. They forget that women are not “just men with boobs and tubes.”
Her main point is that women are different. I say thank God for that, or as Maurice Chevalier remarked “Vive La Difference!” But what is forgotten is the fact that this difference has to be considered in both research and medical treatment.
There’s a basic fact that I bet no reader knows and I admit I didn’t know it either. According to the Institute of Medicine, every cell in the body has a sex. So right down to the cellular level, women are different.
But how important is this fact? It helps to explain why women are more susceptible to several diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome and depression.
How many readers know that when women eat food or take medicine it takes twice as long for it to pass through the digestive tract than with men? But how many doctors prescribe different doses to women? Rather, it’s “One dose fits all.” But this means drugs cause more drug reactions in women than men.
It’s also been known for years that women don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly as men. I admit that these are hardly fair metabolic reactions and whoever created us failed to consider this difference. But facts are facts, and it means that women have to consume less alcohol than men.
But the difference between sexes is not just at the cellular level. For years women have suffered more urinary tract infections (UTIs) than men because of a major anatomical difference. The urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside, is much shorter in females. This means that bacteria can more easily enter the bladder, triggering urinary infections. For example, in 1997 less than one million visits to hospital emergency departments were made in the U.S. for this problem. In 2007 there were 8.6 million outpatient UTI visits, of which 84 per cent were made by women!
What about the number one killer, heart attack? Even here women get the short end of the stick. First of all, heart disease is more likely to go undiagnosed in women than in men as symptoms are often different. But even if the diagnosis is quickly made and by-pass surgery required, women have a worse prognosis than men. Why? The coronary arteries in females are smaller, making the operation more technically difficult.
Dr. Jensen offers only one solution to overcome gender bias. Women must become proactive and decrease their risk of disease. The best way is to start educating themselves. By so doing, if symptoms strike, they will be better able to determine whether the treatments they receive are safe, effective and specific to their gender.
If readers want a comprehensive, easy to read book about women’s health, Dr .Jensen’s book fits the need. It covers the entire gambit of how stress has a major effect on adrenal glands, and how it goes through a series of changes to adjust to difficult situations. That cholesterol-lowering-drugs are associated with the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Why more women suffer from autoimmune disease and how dementia is becoming an increasing threat to women. There’s also information on what women should know about common hormone imbalances. And what causes low libido in women, and how natural remedies can be helpful. These are some of the female problems covered in the book.
And yes, Dr Jensen, you are quite right. Women are more than men with boobs and tubes. Many differences make us what we are, and I say thank God for that!
Women’s Health Matters is available at Health Food Stores.
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