Nav: Home

Are hormones a 'female problem' for animal research?

May 30, 2019

Women, but not men, are often still described as "hormonal" or "emotional," an outdated stereotype that poses a critical problem for public health, writes Rebecca Shansky in this Perspective. The belief that circulating ovarian hormones make data from female subjects "messier" continues to influence experimental design in laboratory animals today, with animals often still largely male, particularly in Shansky's field of neuroscience. "When we view females through a male lens," Shanksy says, "we risk missing what may be at the crux of the question for females," an issue especially troublesome in behavior studies related to mood and anxiety disorders, like Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, both twice as prevalent in women. The idea that the estrous cycle would make data from female subjects more variable than that from males has seemed like such a reasonable assumption throughout history, Shanksy writes, that it wasn't examined scientifically until 2014, when meta-analyses of published neuroscience articles that used mice as subjects showed that data collected from female mice - regardless of the estrous cycle - did not vary more than that from males. In fact, in some instances male mice in fact varied more than females. In particular, group-housed males, but not females, established a dominance hierarchy that saw dominant males exhibiting testosterone levels on average five times as high as subordinates. Only in 2016 did any funding agency in the United States require grant recipients to use both sexes in animal studies, with the introduction of the Sex as a Biological Variable (SABV) mandate. However, because the SABV mandate does not explicitly dictate how to incorporate both sexes into experimental designs, one "compromise" upon which some neuroscientists have landed is to work things out in males first, and then, armed with their findings, tackle the same question in females. This strategy is "dangerous," Shansky says, "because it perpetuates the dated, sexist, and scientifically inaccurate idea that male brains are a standard from which female brains deviate. She says it is imperative that in adhering to the mandate, researchers do not allow antiquated gender stereotypes to bias their approach to scientific rigor. "Women are not more complicated than men, and hormones are not a 'female problem' for animal research. We need to stop treating them that way."
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...