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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment

Workshop Report

Valerie Petit Setlow, C. Elaine Lawson, and Nancy Fugate Woods, Editors

Committee on Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors

Division of Health Sciences Policy

INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1998

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

The Institute of Medicine was chartered in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to enlist distinguished members of the appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. In this, the Institute acts under both the Academy’s 1863 congressional charter responsibility to be an adviser to the federal government and its own initiative in identifying issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

Support for this project was provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (Award No. 1-OD-4-2139), with contributions from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of Women’s Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of Research and Development, Environmental Protection Agency. The views presented in this report are those of the Committee on Gender Differences and are not necessarily those of the funding organizations.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

COMMITTEE ON GENDER DIFFERENCES IN SUSCEPTIBILITY TO ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

NANCY FUGATE WOODS (Chair),* Director,

Center for Women's Health Research and

Professor,

Family and Child Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Washington

EULA BINGHAM,* Professor,

Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati

KIM BOEKELHEIDE, Professor,

Department of Pathology, Brown University

DENISE FAUSTMAN, Director of Immunobiology Laboratories,

Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School

STEPHEN H. SAFE, Distinguished Professor,

Department of Veterinary Medicine, Physiology, and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University

DAVID H. WEGMAN, Professor and Chair,

Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

IOM Health Sciences Policy Board Member/Committee Liaison

ADA SUE HINSHAW,* Dean,

School of Nursing, University of Michigan

Institute of Medicine Staff

VALERIE PETIT SETLOW, Director,

Division of Health Sciences Policy and

Project Director

C. ELAINE LAWSON, Research Associate and Project Codirector

LINDA A. DEPUGH, Administrative Assistant and Project Assistant

JAMAINE TINKER, Financial Associate

*  

Member, Institute of Medicine.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

Preface and Acknowledgments

Women's and men's health differ in a variety of ways. Women have greater longevity than men, but during their lifespan women experience more morbidity. Scientists have investigated explanations for these differences, pursuing explorations of biological differences, such as those linked to the & cross; chromosome and those modulated by sex steroids (e.g., immune response). Other scholars have studied the differential socialization of girls and boys with respect to risk-taking behavior, sophistication about health and health-seeking behavior, and the social roles women and men play in their occupations and in their homes. Still others have examined sources of stress in women's and men's lives that might account for differences in health and disease patterns. The most likely explanations accounting for women's and men's different health experiences are complex and multivariate and may include differences in each gender's unique susceptibility to factors in their environments.

Recognizing the complexity of the topic, the Committee on Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors undertook the study within a framework that incorporated distinctions between sex and gender and defined environment in its broadest sense—inclusive of physical, biological, social, and cultural dimensions. As an initial step toward these fundamental understandings, our committee was assembled to review existing information, discuss issues with a larger group of interested individuals, and make recommendations for an initial set of priorities for work in this area.

Although the committee bears responsibility for the conclusions and recommended priorities in this report, I would be seriously remiss if I failed to acknowledge the contributions of many others to both the planning and conduct of the committee's activities. First, I owe thanks to the sponsors of this activity for posing the questions and initiating this study. Special thanks go to Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of the Office for Research on Women's Health (ORWH) at the

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

National Institutes of Health (NIH), for initiating this effort and to then deputy director, Dr. Anne Bavier, who served ably as the task leader in the initial stages of this project. I would also like to acknowledge the skillful work of Joyce Rudick, acting deputy director, ORWH, who graciously stepped into the role of task leader after Dr. Bavier's departure from ORWH.

One of the features of this small but important project was its multiagency sponsorship and interest. Joining ORWH in support of this project were Dr. Anne Sassaman, director, Division of Extramural Research and Training, and Dr. Gwen W. Collman, scientific programs administrator, both of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, and Dr. Yvonne Maddox, deputy director, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH. The committee thanks Dr. Lynn Goldman, assistant administrator for prevention, pesticide, and toxic substances, and Dr. Margaret Chu, toxicologist from the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee also thanks Dr. Wanda Jones, associate director for women's health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each of these agency representatives provided us with materials and helpful ideas during the course of this activity. In addition, the committee extends its appreciation and thanks to the many other federal agency representatives who were contacted for information throughout the activity and who attended the workshop.

The workshop speakers shared their extensive expertise and provided the committee with thoughtful insights and ideas during the discussion period. They also helped the committee shape its priority recommendations. Therefore, I thank our excellent speakers: Greg Cosma, assistant professor, Department of Environmental Health, Colorado State University; S. Katharine Hammond, associate professor of environmental health sciences, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley; Kenneth S. Korach, scientific program director, Environmental Diseases and Medicine Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH; Shiriki Kumanyika, professor and chair in the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Illinois at Chicago; Bill Lasley, professor of reproductive medicine, Institute for Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of California at Davis; Peter N. Riskind, chief of neuroimmunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; and Jeanne Stellman, deputy chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University School of Public Health, New York City.

Others who contributed to the work of the committee are Paul Phelps, consultant and writer who listened with us throughout the workshop and prepared a draft report of the workshop that captured the essence of the discussions. I also thank IOM senior project officer, Carolyn Fulco, for her critical and thoughtful review of earlier manuscripts; Claudia Carl, for her careful work in shepherding the report through review; Michael Edington, for his assistance in the publication of the document; and Ted Cron, our copy editor.

As the committee chair, I am acutely aware of the contributions that the committee staff has made to the success of the study. Special thanks go to Linda DePugh, administrative assistant, who made travel arrangements and meetings

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

as comfortable as possible and provided outstanding administrative support at the meetings and in the production of the report; to Jamaine Tinker, financial associate, for her masterful management of limited resources; to Elaine Lawson, research associate, who was instrumental in the early work of the committee in organizing materials, developing the initial analysis of the sponsoring agencies' research portfolio, and helping the committee identify speakers for the workshop; and to Valerie Setlow, division director, who provided her adept professional support to the committee throughout its tasks, report finalization, and review.

I would like to acknowledge the individual and collective efforts of the committee members. It seemed, a priori, that not all the questions, let alone all the answers, could emerge from such a small group. Yet, each member of the group assumed his or her tasks seriously and helped develop a very thoughtful agenda for agency action. It was a pleasure to have worked with this group of busy but unselfish professionals, who volunteered their time to share their knowledge and advice with the larger scientific community. In sum, their advice provides a good first step toward a fuller understanding of the unique and differential susceptibilities of women to environmental factors.

This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the Institute of Medicine in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

On behalf of the Institute of Medicine, I wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Mary Ellen Avery, M.D., professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Brigid Hogan, Ph.D., investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Maria New, professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, and chief, Pediatric Endocrinology, New York Hospital, New York City; Michael Paolisso, Ph.D., systems professor of anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland at College Park; Ellen K. Silbergeld, Ph.D., director, Program in Human Health and the Environment, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Helen Rodriguez-Trias, M.D., codirector, Pacific Institute for Women's Health, Western Consortium for Public Health, Los Angeles. While these individuals have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the Committee on Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors and the Institute of Medicine.

A final comment: The principal focus of this report is on women. However, it lays the groundwork for the most logical next step: an evaluation of the analytical steps required to move to a gender-focus analysis, one that would involve

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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health outcomes for women and men. Work in the international field of women in development suggests that the most powerful analysis is to consider both women and men, and the relations and interactions between them in terms of particular outcomes, such as health. Women's health-seeking behavior and their ability to respond to environmental risk will in part be conditioned by their relationships with men, both from a cultural role perspective (i.e., what is appropriate for women and men to do) and what they actually do (behavior). Building a constituency of researchers and policymakers for gender differences in susceptibility to environmental factors will be fostered by a more inclusive and comparative focus.

Nancy Fugate Woods

Chair

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
×

Tables and Figures

TABLES

1

 

Types of Information Received from Sponsoring Agencies and Reviewed by the Committee,

 

4

2

 

NRC Reports with Information and Recommendations Related to Environmental Health Research and Training,

 

6

3

 

Additional Factors to Include in Broader Definitions,

 

11

4

 

Summary of Recommended Priorities,

 

24

B-1

 

Recommended Dietary Allowances

 

40

B-2

 

Dietary Reference Intakes,,

 

41

B-3

 

Synergistic Effect of Multiple Agents: Cigarette Smoking and Occupational Exposure to Asbestos,

 

45

B-4

 

Influences of Gender, Development, and Ethanol Consumption on Benzene's Effect on Erythroid Colony-Forming Units,

 

47

B-5

 

Gender Differences in Cancer Susceptibility: Human Studies/Environmental Exposures,

 

61

FIGURES

A-1

 

Percentage of research portfolio by category,

 

27

B-1

 

Industrial employment of women and men by sector, 1992,

 

36

B-2

 

Setting nutrition monitoring priorities,

 

39

B-3

 

Occupational injuries,

 

45

B-4

 

Environmental tobacco smoke in the home,

 

46

B-5

 

Environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace,

 

47

B-6

 

Smoking and the risk of cancer among postmenopausal women,

 

49

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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B-7

 

Geographic localization of multiple sclerosis in the world,

 

50

B-8

 

Estrogen protective effects against TCDD,

 

58

B-9

 

TCDD and tyrosine kinase activity,

 

59

B-10

 

Changes that occur as a result of exposure,

 

60

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine. 1998. Gender Differences in Susceptibility to Environmental Factors: A Priority Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6035.
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Women's health and men's health differ in a variety of ways--women live longer on average, for example, but tend to be sicker as well. Whereas some of these distinctions are based solely on gender, there is growing awareness that the environment and related factors may play a role in creating health status differences between men and women. Various factors, such as genetics and hormones, may account for gender differences in susceptibility to environmental factors.

In 1996 the Office for Research on Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health asked the Institute of Medicine to conduct a workshop study to review some of the current federal research programs devoted to women's health and to clarify the state of knowledge regarding gender-related differences in susceptibility. This book contains a general outline of research needs, a summary of the workshop proceedings (as well as summaries of the speakers' presentations), and an analysis of the participating federal agencies' research portfolios.

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