Why Women’s Health is a Black Box of Misinformation

4min read

If you were diagnosed with a disease, or came down with an illness, your doctor would likely prescribe you medicine or suggest some medical intervention. And, it would be important to know if the doctor was recommending something that had been rigorously tested on people who looked like you. In fact, the more the subjects in that controlled study looked like you, the better.

Were the subjects human? Your age? Your skin color? Your heritage? And perhaps most importantly, your sex?

The sad truth is, that last variable is often the one missing from research if you're a female.

When women go to their doctors they are routinely given advice based on male bodies that may not be relevant to their own female bodies. Females contract illnesses in different proportions, they present different symptoms and even get different diseases, yet we are routinely treated as if they are biologically identical to our male counterparts.

I launched the Empowered Health podcast to start a discussion around how females are different than males and are deserving of the same level of care and respect when it comes to our health. Women needed a source of information that will help them lead their happiest, healthiest lives and I'm proud Empowered Health is first to fill that gap.

From 1977 to 1993, women of childbearing age were legally prohibited from participating in clinical trials. That means any medical advice based on research that was conducted during this 16 year period will not be helpful to women ages 18-45 years old.

And it's not that women at that stage of life use medicines or need medical treatments at lower rates than men. Approximately half of all U.S. women– and one in nine pregnant women– between ages 15 to 44 report taking a prescription drug within the last month, according to the CDC. Other findings show that over 90 percent of pregnant and lactating women in the U.S. are on at least one medication. That means most American women are taking meds that have not been tested on their bodies, they therefore do not know what the impact of those drugs are on their bodies or their babies bodies.

The reasons for this disparity in representation in clinical trials is not purely sexist. In the 1950s, Thalidomide was a drug prescribed to women who had morning sickness. By the 1960s, the medication was blamed for causing severe birth defects in thousands of babies. Its use was banned in treating pregnant women. The cultural experience of this tragedy has left an imprint on medical research that is still felt today.

And, while there has been a recent acknowledgement that this creates a dangerous medical environment for women, it is far from fixed.

The most recent effort by the US government to fix this problem makes it clear: "The statute requires NIH to ensure that clinical trials are carried out in a manner sufficient to provide for a valid analysis of whether the variables being studied affect women or members of minority groups differently than other trial participants."

Yet, we know that drug companies have work arounds to these guidelines. They can claim they tried to enroll women in the study, but they all dropped out, or they tried to recruit females but non wanted to participate. Whatever the excuse, females are still vastly underrepresented in clinical trials.

And all too often the media assumes medical advice is applicable to both sexes, because for most of history our bodies had been assumed to be the same, despite clear indications to the contrary.

More women are graduating from medical school than men and things are starting to change. When female med students realize no one is differentiating between the sexes hearts, brain, bones, and yet they know there are clear differences, they want answers too. These pioneers are doing fantastic research on how all our organs are different, which means we may require different testing and different treatments.

Their work is why I launched the Empowered Health Podcast. There are loads of brilliant researchers working on these issues around sex difference and I wanted to talk to them. Women's bodies are miraculous! And the more we dig, the more we learn just how different our parts are. Yet, the mainstream media has yet to catch on to this relatively new area of research--women's whole bodies

I've been an investigative journalist for almost two decades, covering everything from Congression cover-ups to high-profile murders to the shortcomings of artificial intelligence. And women's health is the biggest mess of bad information I've ever come upon. It is a disaster that women are dying of diseases because the treatments they receive are effective only in male bodies. As a women I'm constantly learning from others about my body, health and experience talking to the world's experts on topics ranging from heart disease and menopause to how THC causes a heightened high when we're ovulating! And the same is likely true for wine, have a glass of wine on your period and you'll feel very different than midway through your cycle when your hormones are surging.

On Empowered Health we're getting into all of the wonderful, mysterious ways we're different. While most female health news focus on periods, pregnancy or a specific disease, our goal is to literally cover everything. Our listeners have come to count on Empowered Health as the go-to source for evidence-based information that allows them to make the best choices for their individual bodies. We are talking to the world's experts on topics of specific importance to women everywhere. We are sharing valuable information that is not readily available so that you can decide how to live your healthiest happiest life.

Women are constantly dismissed, misdiagnosed, and altogether left out of the healthcare system, which is why I recognized there was a need for my podcast Empowered Health with Emily Kumler. We are demanding a seat at the table. Each week I tackle a different topic related to women's wellbeing. Unlike the way our medical environment is structured, I don't believe you can take a woman apart and conclusively diagnose her. We need to consider the whole women, her experiences, her symptoms, her lifestyle in order to understand how she is healthy or sick.

I've interviewed more than 100 sources on Empowered Health about these issues including Laurie Glimcher, the CEO of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Robert Gabbay, the medical director of Joslin Diabetes, and Dr. Sharonne Hayes, the medical director of the Mayo Clinic's Office for Diversity and Inclusion. I've talked to investigative reporters Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz about nutrition, as well as pregnancy experts like Emily Oster and Dr. Neel Shah, menopause experts Dr. Jan Shifren and Dr. Nancy Woods, state representatives Jaime Herrera-Buetler (R) and Leslie Herrod (D), and even famed anthropologists like Kristen Hawkes.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet many doctors don't even know that the female heart is different and suffers in different ways than the male heart, which is what most research is on.

So, it's not surprising that the way we diagnose heart attacks is flawed. As we learned in our episode with cardiologists Dr. Janet Wei and Dr. Giulia Sheftel, women are more likely to have blockages in the small vessels of their heart whereas men have plaque build-up in their large arteries.While chest pain is still the number one symptom for both sexes, women sometimes present atypical symptoms, contributing to a lower diagnosis rate thus leaving women more vulnerable to being left untreated.

Another trend we've seen is women experiencing dismissal of their discomfort–whether by clinicians, friends, family, or even to themselves. Women are constantly told their menstrual pain is normal. What is normal about symptoms that cause women to miss work, school, and important commitments for multiple days each month?

While covering endometriosis–a disorder where endometrial tissue appears outside the uterus, causing pain during menstruation–we learned that approximately one in ten American women suffer from endometriosis, yet many remain undiagnosed. This is due to the stigma that period pain is expected and tolerable, when actually it is debilitating for many endometriosis patients.

I'm sick of women being disregarded and dismissed. We found this especially true when looking at maternal mortality in the U.S.

All these themes tie back to a general thread: women are being massively disregarded by the medical system. Many outlets covering women's health are not adequately addressing the claims researchers make, causing misinformation to spread rapidly. As a reporter I know how to ask the tough questions, sift through the data and research and my goal is to share that info in a meaningful way with women everywhere.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.