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Health and diseases among women
  1. C Borrell
  1. Institut Municipal de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Spain

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    Edited by R B Ness, L H Kuller. Oxford University Press, 1999. (Pp 465; price not stated). ISBN 0-19-511396-9.

    It has been described that health differences exist between women and men: women have higher life expectancy, but they experience more disability and reduced quality of life then men do. Recently it has been pointed out that gender differences in health varied according to the condition studied.1 Health and diseases among women is a book, written by USA researchers that focuses on the environmental and biological influences that mediate differences in health between women and men. It develops models that link pathophysiology to observations in epidemiological studies.

    The book has four main sections. Part I includes psychosocial and lifestyle issues that influence differential diseases among women and men, for example, depression, violence against women, or socioeconomic gradients in health. Part II analyses diseases related with sex steroids hormones, for example, ischaemic heart diseases, osteoporosis or breast cancer. At the beginning of this section there is a chapter explaining hormones in women. Part III includes mainly women’s’ diseases attributable to their anatomical attributes. The section begins with two chapters about the anatomy of the genital tracts (for women and men) and on the basic principles of immunology and the genital tract. Examples of diseases included in this part are urinary incontinence or sexually transmitted bacterial disease. Finally, Part IV deals with the effects of reproduction and contraception on women’s health, including health conditions during pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and thrombosis.

    From my point of view, this book is very interesting and complete, dealing with epidemiology and pathophysiology of women’s disease. Other aspects dealing with social sciences, including social epidemiology2 would help to understand health differences between women and men.