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Gender Medicine


Previous studies have reported that obesity and eating disorders are more prevalent in women than men. Eating behaviour patterns differ in men and in women, they are affected by motivational state (fed versus fasted), and there are also neural differences in cognitive, emotional and reward processing. Several structural brain differences between obese and lean persons have been identified, and cerebral white matter changes have been found related to elevated body weight in men compared with women.

Female patients in fertile age with chronic hepatitis C, easy genotype, and persistently normal transaminases have a 100% chance to reach a sustained virological response

Background Patients with chronic hepatitis C and persistently normal alanine transaminase levels have recently been included in the guidelines for antiviral treatment.

Aim To evaluate the efficacy of PEG-interferon a-2a and weight-based ribavirin doses in patients with these characteristics in a single Italian centre.

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From Science July 2010
Gender inequalities must be addressed in HIV prevention (Science 2010; 329: 145-7)

“…Nearly one in seven new HIV infections could have been prevented if the women were not subjected to physical or sexual abuse and a similar proportion if women did not experience very unequal power in their relationship…”
“…drivers of HIV/AIDS epidemic in women are gender inequalities – i.e., differences in social value, power, opportunities, and behavioral expectations of men and women- and consequent violence .”

From Lancet July 2010


Major non-communicable diseases - NCDs (cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes) are responsible for 85% of the deaths and 70% of the burden of disease in Europe. The costs of managing those diseases create an enormous economic burden for many countries throughout the European Union.

The Pain Divide between Men and Women

The above mentioned paper appeared a couple of years ago, but well summarizes a clinically significant problem that has been discussed also in more recent papers (see below). Many painful conditions occur more frequently in women: e.g. fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, temporomandibular disorders and so on.

Caffeine has greater effects on men, but decaffeinated coffee produces a slightly more increased alertness in women.

Since the early 90ties gender related differences have been proposed for caffeine, although the published results were somewhat variable. Zwyghulzen-Doorenbos et al. (1990) firstly demonstrated sleep latency and better auditory vigilance induced by caffeine in one group of 24 men, but subsequently James (1998) concluded that caffeine did not improve mental or physical performance among male and female habitual caffeine users.

Females Are Mosaics: X Inactivation and Sex Differences in Disease

The word mosaic is a form of work of art in which pictures are produced joining together minutes pieces of glass, stones and other materials  of different colors. Mosaicism may also result from the abnormal behaviors of chromosomes during the cell division in the fetus. A female is a mosaic because she consists of a mixture of two kinds of cells: each with different functional chromosomes. Because XY males have a single X chromosome, while XX females have two of them, some kind of adjustment is needed: the X chromosome inactivation.

The European science seems to be manly oriented

Science in its issue of November 28th 2008 (Science 2008; 322: 1307) reports the results of the
first round of grants for established researchers awarded by the European Research Council (ERC).
Inequalities among countries and between genders appear in the grants distribution.
Researchers from UK are receiving 16% of the 275 grants, which are worth for 3 up to 3.5 million each.
The percentage of Germany, France and Italy are about 14, 13, 10, respectively.

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