Over the past few decades, the scientific community has shed some light on the vast differences between male and female patient health with an increasing focus on female cardiovascular disease pathology. The reason underlying varying reactions to the same diseases between men and women has been related to the brain, and in particular, sex hormones. Testosterone and estrogen are not only vital to fertility and reproductive functions, but they also play a critical role in brain health, and in particular sex-based risk factors associated with neurodegenerative disease. Emerging research reveals that the brains of males and females are much less different in structure than in how they age as well as the effects aging has on their brain health.
One of the top causes of disability across the globe, schizophrenia can significantly diminish educational, occupational and psychosocial performance, impairing the lives of millions of people worldwide. Although the severe chronic neurological disorder affects a small proportion of the population – around 1% – it is one of the most disabling conditions, especially if left untreated. Schizophrenia carries a substantial disease burden; people with the disorder face increased risks of premature mortality, suicide, and physical illness.
While research has yet to identify a definitive cause of schizophrenia, many factors are thought to contribute to the development of schizophrenia, including genetics, environment, and neurological changes. Previous research implicates that estrogen may play a significant role in the condition’s progression, with a prior randomized controlled trial revealing symptom improvement in premenopausal female patients treated with transdermal estradiol. These initial positive findings have not been replicated by other studies, including ones without commercial involvement.
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed within the U.S. each year. Of these new cases, approximately 40,500 patients will not survive. While extensive research efforts have been taken to counter this destructive disease, still more work in the field of oncology remains to be completed.
Recent research has begun to explore the genetic causes of breast cancer. Studies have found that when a patient’s cancer is caused by an inherited genetic mutation, he or she may have an increased risk of other cancers. Out of the 12.5% of women at risk for breast cancer in the U.S., 10% are hereditary. For these patients, treatment recommendations will likely differ based on their respective genetic makeup.
Women found to have smaller risk genetic mutations are likely to benefit from earlier mammogram screenings than those recommended for the general population. As traditional mammogram guidelines are solely based on age, most insurance plans do not provide women with screening coverage until age 35. For many women, therefore, the optimal window to detect early stages of breast cancer has already passed before they are eligible to receive screenings.
In light of these findings, some researchers argue that breast cancer screening guidelines should be modified and/or revised. Adapting new guidelines would allow physicians to detect a higher number of breast cancer cases, before they progress to more critical, life-threatening stages.
Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, explains that additional genome testing would benefit not only potential cancer patients, but also those of other diseases: “This type of genome-wide screening is being used to identify genes that are associated with increased risk of a number of diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and heart disease.”
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