This month we would like to take the opportunity to celebrate women’s health and all the advancements made in medicine by female researchers, for the benefit of people around the world.
The history of women in medicine is rich and colourful, and full of significant contributions. At Preventous, as with healthcare in general, women make up a significant portion of the workforce and enable us to deliver the high standard of service and care which our members have come to expect.
Historically, women have played a significant role in research and medicine. From Rosalind Franklin discovering the structure of the DNA helix to Henrietta Lacks providing the global research community with the first immortal cell line to begin understanding cancer biology, women have always contributed to the field of science (1,2). Canadian chemist Maud Menten has had lasting impacts on clinical and industrial biochemical applications with her pioneering discoveries in the areas of enzyme kinetics. Maud is well known for her major contributions in the development of the Michaelis-Menten equation, which was a significant step in understanding the mechanisms behind enzymes, how they work in our bodies, and how they can be used for industrial applications like agriculture and food production. Female researchers continue to push the boundaries of science and make significant discoveries and contributions to benefit the advancement of medicine. In more recent news, the revolutionary biotechnology CRISPR is becoming widely adopted for its ground-breaking utility in gene editing. Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel prize winner and leading innovator in the field of biochemistry, paved a new path in research with the adaptation of bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 systems for programmable editing of genomes, one of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology.
Recent advances in science and medicine specifically highlight unique aspects of female biology. In the current age, research has grown exponentially, providing women with great opportunities to learn more about their individual physiology and receive personalized medical care. The shift in perspective in this field continues to provide new and exciting avenues to empower women with tools to understand their internal biology and maximize their potential to accomplish their goals. This has propelled research that is specifically focused on the interplay of female biology and disease, highlighting new and exciting avenues for risk prevention!
For the first time in history, women are having healthy pregnancies much later in life. This has been accompanied by technological advancements that support the optimal health of the pregnancy. For example, cryopreservation, the freezing of mature oocytes (eggs), allows women to wait until they are ready to have children and avoid pregnancy risks associated with treatments for diseases like cancer that can have lasting impacts on their health or the health of their child.
Regardless of age, females present clinical manifestations of Alzheimer’s at twice the prevalence compared to males (5). Immune systems can also drastically differ from person to person because of biological sex. This is due to the vast interplay between sex hormones and immune factors (cellular humoral cytokines) in the body. Differences in immune function can then influence the manifestation of different diseases (4). While all the mechanisms behind disease pathology remain to be fully elucidated in the research, precision approaches can identify specific risk factors and attempt to build proactive and preventative protocols surrounding disease. Exciting new discoveries surrounding chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) highlight how sex differences can aid in determining disease risk. Women are more susceptible to lung damage induced from smoking, and also present COPD earlier on in life regardless of smoking history (6). This suggests how a biological female is at higher risk of specific disease due to their underlying biology and how it interacts with different systems in their body and their external environment. While this may be overwhelming, improving our understanding of how these major pathologies affect all of us differently is essential for establishing personalized protocols that optimize outcomes for all patients.
Understanding disease risk is crucial for building proactive protocols. Using nutrition and exercise in a preventive fashion can provide powerful tools to maximize healthspan and stay healthy for as long as possible. At Preventous, we strive to provide you with opportunities to stay active, optimize your nutrition, help you look after your physical and mental health, and continue to grow and improve as an individual. If you don’t know what habits are affecting your health and where to start, please reach out to us. We are here for you!
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,