Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter?



It's obvious why only men develop prostate cancer and why only women get ovarian cancer. But it is not obvious why women are more likely to recover language ability after a stroke than men or why women are more apt to develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

Sex differences in health throughout the lifespan have been documented. Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health begins to snap the pieces of the puzzle into place so that this knowledge can be used to improve health for both sexes. From behavior and cognition to metabolism and response to chemicals and infectious organisms, this book explores the health impact of sex (being male or female, according to reproductive organs and chromosomes) and gender (one's sense of self as male or female in society).

Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health discusses basic biochemical differences in the cells of males and females and health variability between the sexes from conception throughout life. The book identifies key research needs and opportunities and addresses barriers to research.

Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health will be important to health policy makers, basic, applied, and clinical researchers, educators, providers, and journalists-while being very accessible to interested lay readers.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office on Women's Health, National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Society for Women's Health Research, the Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects, Ortho-McNeil/Johnson & Johnson, and the Unilever United States Foundation. The views presented in this report are those of the Committee on Understanding the Biology of Sex and Gender Differences and are not necessarily those of the funding organizations.