Five major journals to include sex in studies!

Melina Kibbe, MD  reported in a new study that surgical researchers rarely use female animals or cells in the published studies—despite a huge body of evidence showing that sex differences can play a critical role in medical research.  “Women make up half the population, but in surgical literature, 80 percent of the studies only include males,” said Kibbe.  Published Aug. 28 in the journal Surgery, the study follows a “60 Minutes” segment aired in February that featured Dr. Kibbe and raised concerns that overlooking sex differences in biomedical research could lead to serious adverse effects.


As a result of Kibbe’s article, editors of the five major surgical journals reviewed in Kibbe’s publication will now require authors to state the sex of animals and cells used in their studies, and if both sexes are not included give the reasons why.

Dr. Kibbe, Professor of Surgical Research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is member of the Women’s Health Research Institute which is actively working on sex equity in research at the national level.   To read more:   CLICK HERE

Mediterranean diet has lots going for it!

Reasons to try the Mediterranean Diet:

  • Includes most food groups including fats, carbs, etc.
  • Can swap out bad fats for healthy ones (e.g., olive oil instead of butter, fish/poultry instead of red meat)
  • Lots of fresh veggies
  • Includes bread
  • Wide range of ethnic foods to keep it interesting (Italian, Greek, Turkish, Moroccan, Spanish, etc)
  • Lots of spices so you can lower salt
  • Includes wine
  • Good for the heart, brain

To learn more, view the WebMD slide show

Illinois Medicaid to Provide Increased Access to Contraception.

Medicaid patients in Illinois (our home state!) could gain increased access to contraception under policy changes proposed August 18 by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Health care providers would receive more money for providing vasectomies to men and birth control to women under the proposal, which also includes a possible new referral requirement for Roman Catholic providers and others that object to contraception.

The department expects to implement most of the proposed changes this fall, but department Director Julie Hamos said Medicaid will immediately start paying more toward the cost of long-term contraception at walk-in providers such as Planned Parenthood clinics.

Hamos said her department proposed the changes in part to address the recent Supreme Court decision that allowed some companies to exclude contraceptives from their employees’ insurance coverage on religious grounds. Oklahoma-based arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, owned by evangelical Christians, sued over a requirement under the Affordable Care Act to cover contraceptives.

The court’s decision was of “extreme concern” to Gov. Pat Quinn and state health officials, Hamos said. The new proposal affects residents covered under Medicaid, not by employers, but Hamos said the court’s decision brought new focus to the issue, spurring the department to announce the proposal quickly.

“It is an opportune time when women across the country are paying attention … that’s a time that we can really use that attention to focus on what’s available to them through Medicaid,” Hamos said. She noted that the change could help low-income women who shift between Medicaid and employer coverage as their employment situations change. Unplanned pregnancies constitute a major cost among the approximately 1 million women of childbearing age enrolled in Medicaid in Illinois, Hamos said. About 3 million Illinoisans in all are enrolled, and the number is set to expand under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Expanded family planning has succeeded at saving money in other states, Hamos said, citing a Colorado initiative that she said cut teen birthrates by 40 percent from 2009 through 2013, reduced abortions and saved the state $42.5 million in 2010.

The Illinois proposal aims to coax more health care providers into expanding family planning services by increasing their reimbursement rates starting Oct. 1. Payments for vasectomies and intrauterine devices would be doubled. Hamos said the department is working with companies that manufacture IUDs to ensure they’re on health care providers’ shelves when needed.

This Chicago Tribune story was produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Repercussions of Abortion Clinic Restrictions in Texas

It’s been over a year since the controversial Texas law (House Bill 2) leading to abortion clinic restrictions passed, and the repercussions are starting to be felt throughout the state. The law, which was passed on July 18, 2013, created several new requirements, which abortion clinics need to meet to remain in operation. One requirement, which came into effect November 2013, called for clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a certain radius of the clinic. Since then, not all doctors could comply, and the number of clinics in Texas decreased by half from 41 to 20. The last restriction comes into effect on September 1 and requires that all clinics upgrade their facilities to make them ambulatory surgical centers. This will likely to lead to the closure of several more clinics.

This final requirement calls for clinics that do not currently meet its standards to renovate facilities to have a specific hallway width, establish full male and female locker rooms and include a janitor’s closet, among other things. Proponents of the law claim that these changes protect the health of women undergoing an abortion. However, Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, states that abortions are among the safest office-based procedures performed, with a low complication rate of under 0.05%. Therefore, she points out that the requirements are not linked to the safety of the procedure and are unnecessary.

According to Busby, since the number of clinics in Texas has dropped, women are having to wait longer in their pregnancy before they are able to have an abortion, and are having to travel greater distances, or even leave the state. Unfortunately, watchdogs are predicting that when the last requirement comes into effect in September, even more clinics will close, potentially bringing the number down to around 6 or 8 clinics in the state. Busby points out there are already no clinics in East Texas or in the Rio Grande Valley, and the one clinic left in El Paso is at risk of closure. Texas clinics have filed a lawsuit to stop the last requirement from going into effect, but if it fails, women in Texas may find it increasingly difficult to receive safe abortions. Other states across the country are trying to pass similar laws in an effort to restrict women’s access to healthcare.

Feibel, Carrie. “Half of Texas Abortion Clinics Close After Restrictions Enacted.” NPR. 18 July 2014.

Women’s Shoes: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Podiatrists call stiletto’s “shoe-icide”.  They can lead to sprained ankles, a permanent “pump bump” on the heel, deformity, chronic pain and even hairline fractures.   Certain ballet flats can also cause serious problems.  To learn more about the potential health problems and solutions that allow you to stay fashionable, visit this Web MD Slide Show.  You can also view our Women’s Health Research Institute enewsletter on the topic.   It’s enlightening!

The Impact of Sex Differences in Musculoskeletal Medicine

Musculoskeletal health is one of the areas of medicine in which differences between males and females are most striking.   Although males have a higher incidence of traumatic injuries, females are disproportionately disabled by musculoskeletal conditions such as adolescent spinal deformities, ACL injuries, osteoarthritis, and osteoporotic fragility fractures. Therapeutic modalities have been based on studies of male populations or young adult male animals, or the studies do not specify the sex of the population. Understanding of these conditions as they occur throughout the human life span thus has been limited with respect to sex. Fostering research The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Women’s Health Issues Advisory Board (WHIAB) seeks to advocate, advance, and serve as a resource on sex and gender differences in musculoskeletal health and research. Since females suffer from disease in different ways than males, recognizing sex-related differences is critical to optimizing patient care. In an effort to foster the mission of the WHIAB, the Journal of Orthopaedics is featuring 10 articles which highlight research focused on sexual dimorphism in orthopaedics. Sexual dimorphism is considered a priority within the spectrum of orthopaedic research as demonstrated within these articles, including research in basic science, anatomy, biochemistry, hormonal, physiological, neuromuscular, and clinical form and function of bone and soft tissues.

Improved Healthcare Delivery

An approach tailored to the separate biologic needs of females and males through basic science and clinical research will enable healthcare providers to address each patient based on his or her individual biologic needs. Interventions, therapeutic modalities, and best future practices based on sexual dimorphism will improve healthcare delivery for all patients.

Sex-Related Differences in Neuromuscular Control: Implications for Injury Mechanisms or Healthy Stabilisation Strategies?
Teresa E. Flaxman, Andrew J. J. Smith, and Daniel L. Benoit

Effects of ACL reconstruction surgery on muscle activity of the lower limb during a jump-cut maneuver in males and females
Margaret S. Coats-Thomas, Daniel L. Miranda, Gary J. Badger and Braden C. Fleming

Knee rotation in healthy individuals related to age and gender
Per O. Almquist, Charlotte Ekdahl, Per-Erik Isberg and Thomas Fridén

Effect of Age and Gender on Cell Proliferation and Cell Surface Characterization of Synovial Fat Pad Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Emma Fossett, Wasim S. Khan, Umile Giuseppe Longo, and Peter J. Smitham

Morphology of the Proximal Femur Differs Widely with Age and Sex: Relevance to Design and Selection of Femoral Prostheses
David S. Casper, Gregory K. Kim, Javad Parvizi, and Theresa A. Freeman

Gender and condylar differences in distal femur morphometry clarified by automated computer analyses
Kang Li, Evan Langdale, Scott Tashman, Christopher Harner and Xudong Zhang

Viscoelastic properties of human cortical bone tissue depend on gender and elastic modulus
Ziheng Wu, Timothy C. Ovaert and Glen L. Niebur

Gender Differences in Both Active and Passive Parts of the Plantar Flexors Series Elastic Component Stiffness and Geometrical Parameters of the Muscle-Tendon Complex
Alexandre Fouré , Christophe Cornu, Peter J. McNair, and Antoine Nordez

Age, sex, body anthropometry, and ACL size predict the structural properties of the human anterior cruciate ligament
Javad Hashemi, Hossein Mansouri, Naveen Chandrashekar, James R. Slauterbeck, Daniel M. Hardy and Bruce D. Beynnon

Gender differences in 3D morphology and bony impingement of human hips
Ichiro Nakahara, Masaki Takao, Takashi Sakai, Takashi Nishii, Hideki Yoshikawa and Nobuhiko Sugano

SOURCE:  Journal of Orthopaedic Research (JOR), in conjunction with the AAOS Women’s Health Issues Advisory Board, published a special virtual issue highlighting articles that focus on musculoskeletal sex differences.

Edited by: Laura M. Bruse Gehrig, MD, and the chairs the AAOS Women’s Health Issues Advisory Board.  It is available online at

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the function of nerves and muscles in the body–and it has been getting a lot of attention lately. ALS is the “progressive degeneration of the motor neurons,” and when the motor neurons die, the “ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost,” which eventually leads to paralysis and death. ALS  is 20% more common in men than women, but as one’s age increases, the incidence of ALS equalizes between the sexes. The ALS Association was established in 1985 to fight this disease by leading the way in research, care services, public education, and public policy. It was not until this year, however, that the ALS Association began to attract national social media attention with their Ice Bucket Challenge. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has exploded on social media sites and has inspired a surge of  funding for this disorder.

What is the ice bucket challenge? Simple. A friend nominates you to participate in the challenge and you donate $100 to a charity funding ALS research and then film yourself dumping a bucket of ice water on your head. You, then, nominate more friends to participate in the challenge, and it continues. The ALS Association has already raised over $1.35 million in the past two weeks–a steep increase from the meager $22,000 raised in the same period last year–and the challenge is still going strong!

This awareness campaign has attracted donors young and old to answer the challenge and 89% of funds raised will go directly to research and educational programs aimed at better combating ALS for men and women. Join the challenge today!


ALS Association
The Washington Post

Lighten up at Work for Better Health

Office workers with more light exposure at the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The study highlights the importance of exposure to natural light to employee health and the priority architectural designs of office environments should place on natural daylight exposure for workers, the study authors said.

Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have the natural light exposure in the workplace. There also was a trend for workers in offices with windows to have more physical activity than those without windows.

Workers without windows reported poorer scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality, as well as poorer outcomes on measures of overall sleep quality and sleep disturbances.

The study was reported in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in June.

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day –particularly in the morning — is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” said senior study author Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist and member of the Women’s Health Research Institute Leadership Council.. “Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.”

- See more at:

Cyberbullying–a growing public health problem

Cyberbullying happens when one uses online communication to harrass, post disparaging remarks, or threaten someone via the Internet or by texting.    Because it reaches an unlimited audience (unlike face-to-face bullying)  its consequences can be extreme.  Cyberbullying is particularly rampant among adolescents—95% of whom are connected to the Internet.    A new publication in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics explores the literature on cyberbullying and suggests that it has become an international public health concern especially for teens.   While there is little about sex differences in current publications, the author, Charissse Nixon, recommends that  future studies on this topic take a closer look at how it might be different in girls and boys.

Dermal fillers for wrinkles, how safe are they?

More and more women (and men) are seeking treatments to fill out those crow’s feet, frown lines and wrinkles as well as puffing up lips.  In response to the growing demand, more options are now available and people are reporting satisfactory results.  Are they safe?  What works best?   How is it different than botox?   The FDA is responsible for monitoring these products and has developed a helpful guide, Filling in Wrinkles Safely that provides important consumer information.