#SWAAYthenarrative

Why Women’s Health is a Black Box of Misinformation

4min read
Health

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.

Time-Saving Hacks That Will Help You Focus More on Growing Your Brand

Whether it's your child or your brand, there is nothing quite like the excitement you get when you see the fruits of your efforts grow. In the face of aversion, you must remain cool-minded and adaptable to remain effective. This can be quite stressful, and every minute counts. Alone, the responsibility can be overwhelming - wouldn't it be nice if things just ran themselves sometimes? Especially those things that we do mindlessly all the time, and seem to take up most of our time?

When you start a business, you soon come to realize that in order to grow your brand, you need to be extremely organized. And to be efficiently organized, it is imperative that you master the art of managing your time. The saying 'time is money' rings true when it comes to growth. This is why we're going to provide you with helpful tips that will allow you to save time so you can focus on growing your brand.

Use the Right Tools

Technology has changed the way we conduct our business with each other. Today, more than ever before, we have access to data which gives us clearer insight and vision, as well as better tools for productivity. However, as we all know, this is all conditional to your intent. As much as a smartphone can be a tool for productivity, it can also be a fantastic source of distraction and procrastination, which is directly detrimental to said productivity. Automation is an advantage that is available to almost everyone today when it would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

Get Connected

When a brand is still young, the team is still close-knit and there isn't too much coordination necessary when it comes to keeping up to date and on top of work. Chat groups and video calls can do, as well as simple task-managing apps. But as you grow, your workflow becomes more complex and the volume of data generated by your company will very quickly become a logistical nightmare.

Telltale signs of data overwhelming are endless excel sheets, frantic Post-it notes all around the (real or digital) office, and relying on the consumer rather than business-oriented data storage and communications solutions. These have their limits, and investing in a holistic company-wide system will not be a waste.

Work More Effectively

Your workflow can be simplified into smaller tasks which follow each other in a sequence, which can have conditional elements to it. That's where automation comes in. If you can draw it in a flowchart, you can automate it. Tasks that would have taken days can be outsourced to a machine that will not only perform but also learn in the process.

There is now a myriad of online services for freelancers which essentially give them the productivity potential of a small firm. We're now at the point where bots at https://www.hellobonsai.com/contract-templates can generate custom templates for the documents your brand needs, replacing the need for a legal consultant to intervene. You just need to know what you want to automate, and what you want to make out of it. If you create a logical process from the inception of your brand, then the automation will be seamless, as all you will need to do is add more tasks.

Be Mobile and Flexible

Most of your coworkers and clients will probably already have a smartphone, or will soon. It is also very likely that beyond using these for leisure and social activities, they use them for work. It is now normal to switch off the heating in that apartment you've been renting out while you are on holiday because your AirBNB tenants are overusing it. Or to track the status of your latest food delivery while you are sitting on the toilet.

Consumers today are not only constantly on the move, but they are also increasingly data-focused. They will be looking for results and have the capabilities they need to research, analyze, and calculate what they deem necessary to ensure they will be making the right decision. They thus also expect the same in return, in the form of bespoke customer service that is both intelligent and responsive.

Simplify

Data is everywhere and is relatively easy to obtain. In a single click, you can generate a web analysis that will reveal more information about your blog or website than your doctor will ever tell you about your own body. Before diving into this ocean of data, take time to identify what is really important to you. Brainstorming is a great tool to really identify and prioritize what you and your team should be focusing on first. If you try to wage war on all fronts, then the chances of winning are slim.

With the right tools and the right method, you can save yourself quite a considerable amount of time. With both the agility and flexibility that data managing and automation software brings to the table, you will see an increase in your productivity. Careful planning is key, and if you focus on streamlining your workflow, you will be able to take your brand to the next level.