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Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment - Workshop Report
factored into the process of selection of topics for the workshop and the identification of issues for the priority recommendations.
Analysis of Agency Projects
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided 121 project summaries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 summaries; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 15 summaries for a total of 177 project summaries reviewed. The relative proportion of each category in each of the agencies is shown in Figure A-1. As expected, the types of projects vary by agency and are related to the mission of each.
Analysis of Portfolios by Subject Category
A second, subjective analysis was done based on sorting the projects into the six categories listed above. The results and observations by the committee are below.
Areas highlighted in the portfolios. Research areas represented in the portfolios provided by the agencies include work associated with some of the epidemiological studies from family exposure research; men and women are included. In others, exposure measurements were combined with epidemiological studies as, for example, in the animal models of chemically induced endometriosis. Also, the portfolios contain studies on actual or theoretical biomarkers of exposure.
Gaps/missing areas of research. Few studies in this category deal with environmental exposures and women's health. None of the studies covers the entire lifespan of women: that is, environmental exposures in utero and in children, young women, women of childbearing age, and postmenopausal women. A corollary set of studies would be those that focused on exposures during critical times throughout the life span and during development. An area of increasing interest will be studies on frail elderly women in their 80s and 90s. Weight loss gradually occurs among women in their 80s and 90s, and loss of fat cells exposes their bodies to any toxicants stored in those cells. The same scenario is possible as bone mass is depleted.
Not many studies include environmental exposure measurements, especially in epidemiological studies. In most studies reviewed by the committee, exposure is considered as a variable but not as the main focus. Also, studies are needed that describe the nature of exposure settings (i.e., home, workplace, etc.) in order to develop new treatments or polices for intervention.