Gender, Race, and Even Geography May Impact Health

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For years, health research was done primarily on white men, and scientists assumed that the results were applicable across all populations.  Now, it is becoming increasingly evident that variables such as gender, race, and geography can also impact health.  The following are just a few examples from recent medical literature.

Two studies of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found that adult women experienced more emotional and cognitive impairment from the disorder than did men.  This included higher levels of anxiety, depression, sleep impairment, and other mood disorders.  A separate study, from Duke University, revealed that women who have trouble sleeping face more adverse health problems as a result.  While insomnia did not negatively impact men’s health in the study, for women it could lead to serious health hazards such as depression and anger, and possibly higher risk for type II diabetes and stroke.

Outsiders’ perceptions may also influence women’s health.  For example, a survey of doctors in Canada found a potential bias in assessment for knee replacement; the doctors were more likely to recommend knee replacement to men, even when women had comparable symptoms.  Overweight women may also experience more discrimination than overweight men, according to a report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.

Even among women, race and location can play a role in wellbeing.  One study found that women of color in both Michigan and California tended to have less complete information about breast cancer surgery than did Caucasian women, even after speaking with a surgeon about their options.   Another report in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that women living in rural areas experienced worse menopausal symptoms than women in cities.

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