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Are Women Really the Healthier Sex?

Are Women Really the Healthier Sex?
Published: Nov 12, 2013, By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today

BALTIMORE -- Women in general are healthier than men and live longer, but the advantage comes at a price -- an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, a researcher said here.

Adult women are also at higher risk for allergies and asthma, even though young males have a higher burden of those chronic illnesses, according to Renata Engler, MD, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

The reasons are complicated, not well understood, and require much more research, Engler said in a plenary session at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

"The immune system of women is more robust, which favors resistance against infections and some survival venues," Engler told MedPage Today after her presentation. "The downside is autoimmune disease, which is among the top 10 killers -- and there women lose."

Physicians and researchers need to take into account differences by sex, which, Engler said at the meeting, is a biological matter of genetics, hormones, and phenotypes. But they also need to be aware of differences by gender, which is a social construct and may lead to varying opportunities, resources, access to health care, and quality of care, Engler said.

The vogue for personalized medicine, she said, needs to take into account all the complexity involved in both aspects of the issue.


Acidic Diet & Diabetes Risk for Women

Acidic Diet Tied to Diabetes Risk for Women
Published: Nov 11, 2013 | Updated: Nov 12, 2013, By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today, Reviewed by F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE; Instructor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

A diet high in acidic foods -- meat, fish, and sodas, for instance -- may put some women at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, researchers found.

In an analysis of data from the E3N-EPIC cohort, French women with higher scores on a measure of dietary acidity had about a 70% greater risk of developing diabetes than those whose diets were more alkaline,Guy Fagherazzi, PhD, of Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif in France, and colleagues reported online in Diabetologia.

Some work has suggested that Western diets rich in animal products and other acidogenic foods may create an acid load that isn't compensated for by intake of fruits and vegetables.

This can lead to chronic metabolic acidosis, which may play a role in cardiometabolic abnormalities.

To assess whether dietary acid load has an association with development of diabetes, Fagherazzi and colleagues looked at data on 66,485 women from the French E3N-EPIC cohort, all of whom completed several dietary questionnaires.


Folic Acid Supplementation & Autism

Folic Acid May Ward Off Autism

By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today, Published: February 12, 2013, Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Taking folic acid supplements around the time of conception may lower the risk of autistic disorder in the offspring, an observational study showed.

Compared with women not using the supplements, those taking a folic acid supplement from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception were less likely to have a child later diagnosed with autistic disorder (0.1% versus 0.21%; OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.90), according to Pål Surén, MD, MPH, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and colleagues.

Similar associations were not observed for Asperger syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), the researchers reported in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study "does not establish a causal relation between folic acid use and autistic disorder but provides a rationale for replicating the analyses in other study samples and further investigating genetic factors and other biological mechanisms that may explain the inverse association," Surén and colleagues wrote.

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