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Women, Don’t Fall Into the Health Gap

Women, Don’t Fall Into the Health Gap

The film Suffragette traces British women’s struggle for equal rights, up until 1928 when women over 21 got the vote (it happened in 1920 in the US). A lot has changed since then, but research on women’s health issues still lags behind.

The NIH started to focus on women’s issues in 1991, when Dr. Bernadine Healy was the first female director, but a recent United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) report issued a finding of “Five Evidence Gaps in Women’s Health.” And new report from the General Accounting Office is titled, “Better Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Continued Progress Including Women in Health Research.” Seems the research community may have lost some of that focus.

Those USPSTF-reported gaps exist because of a lack of research into how to screen women for: 1) intimate partner violence, illicit drug use and mental health conditions; 2) thyroid dysfunction; 3) vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis; 4) cancer; and 5) how to implement clinical preventive services. So here’s how YOU can take charge of your health in these areas.

  • If you’re the victim of partner violence, call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). Seek support if you’re struggling with addiction (www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov) or mental health issues (MentalHealthAmerica.net/finding-help).
  • Get a blood test to check for thyroid disease, vitamin D deficiency, glucose levels and arrange for a bone scan if you’re postmenopausal.
  • Get an annual skin cancer check. Ask about getting a mammogram, colonoscopy, PAP smear and other diagnostic cancer checks. Make sure your immunizations are up to date.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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