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The differences between men and women are becoming an elephant in the room in the medical community and few people are willing to talk about it. But the facts are clear; our bodies are vastly different and treating us the same could hold back medical research.
For example, men’s organs are softer than women’s, much less firm and do not hold shape as well. Women have more stem cells than men and the cells are different, reported “60 Minutes” in a Feb. 9 segment.
The differences do not stop there. They may explain why women have a much higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis, or why men have a much higher rate of prostate cancer, color blindness and heart disease. Masculinity may be why autism rates are four times higher in men.
The most important difference may be in the way medicine affects each sex differently. Treatments for some types of diseases are considered a one-size-fits-all treatment; few doctors have even considered that our biological differences could affect who lives and who dies.
The reason doctors do not research these differences as much as they should is because of feminism, said Dr. Doris Taylor, the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota, to “60 Minutes.”
The call for equality was taken far too literally.
If doctors attempt to present research with “sex differences” in their abstract, nobody would allow them to display their findings because it is too politically incorrect, Taylor told “60 Minutes.”
Some doctors avoid political incorrectness because medical research is usually not a revenue-generating enterprise. This means that much of the funding comes from government grants and private donations. Doctors who are blunt and honest may run the same risk as anyone else who functions on donations; if they upset too many people, they lose their source of funding.
Because men and women truly are different we could tailor medical research to each gender and even possibly each ethnicity.
If doctors and researchers did not have to fear the repercussions of being honest about their findings, and fear the stigma of being labeled a chauvinist or a sexist, the medical community could make advances beyond what any of us could imagine.
Cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, addiction and many other conditions could have customized treatments for those who they would most benefit.
Imagine a hospital with far lower fatality rates because they could treat a disease specifically to help a black man, a white woman or any other gender or ethnicity.
That is not science fiction it is an actual possibility. But first we have to be willing to have a free discussion about sex. Men and women are different.
Matt Young is a political science junior.
This article has been updated.