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Women's Health

Making an Issue of Female Care

Survey: Scientific American devotes one of its quarterly series to documenting the medical community's changing attitude toward gender-based treatment, from teens through seniors.

June 22, 1998|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Women's health gets a head-to-toe examination by a team of specialists in a stand-alone issue of Scientific American currently on the newsstands.

Titled "Scientific American Presents Women's Health: A Lifelong Guide," the 120-page magazine outlines new findings in specific age groups from the teens to 70s and older, examines lifelong measures to ensure good health and explains why such measures should be taken.

The special issue is the second in a quarterly series (a March issue dealt with astronomy) exploring a single topic in depth, said Carol Ezell, who, with Kristin Leutwyler and Sasha Nemecek, edited the special issue.

"We thought it was a good idea to bring Scientific American's experience and authority to the topic of women's health," she said. "We tried to hit all the important topics."

After years of treating women like "men with a uterus," she said, doctors and researchers are increasingly finding definite gender differences in many areas, including addiction, depression and autoimmune diseases as well as in reactions to pain and anesthesia.

"Several things were new to me," said Ezell, a bio-health writer. "Despite our emphasis on breast cancer today, most of the experts downplayed the importance of breast cancer, to emphasize heart disease. One researcher cites heart disease and stroke as the No. 1 cause of death among American women--more than the next 16 causes combined."

She was also surprised to learn that female smokers have a greater chance of developing lung cancer than do men who smoke and that menopause is dictated by changes in the brain.

Along with articles written by staffers and guest experts, the issue includes lists of important medical checkups and resources such as Web sites. The editors hope it will encourage women to take more preventive care of their bodies, said Ezell.

"Although it's known that women are more likely than men to consult a doctor for symptoms, they are so tied up with kids and work they don't set aside time for the health maintenance things like aerobic exercise."

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