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Scientists to EPA: Include women in reproductive health research

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
EPA research on reproductive health is not being uniformly investigated in both sexes and across the lifespan due to out-of-date guidelines. Many toxicity studies are only conducted in males, but the effects may be different in women. Scientists will meet with EPA administrators in Washington to press for important changes in the guidelines for reproductive health research.

A team of Northwestern University scientists will meet with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators in Washington D.C. Oct. 18 to advocate for important changes in the agency's guidelines for reproductive health research.

"The problem is current research assessing the risk of toxins on reproductive health is not being uniformly investigated in both sexes and across the lifespan," said Kate Timmerman, program director of the Oncofertility Consortium of Northwestern University, who will be one of the scientists meeting with the EPA. The reproductive health guidelines have not been updated since 1996 and need to be revised to reflect new research findings.

The Northwestern team will ask the EPA to expand the definition of reproductive health beyond pregnancy to include the lifespan of an individual.

"Reproductive health is important across the entire lifespan because your endocrine system affects your bone health, cardiovascular health and other systems in the body," Timmerman said. Endocrine disrupters, sometimes triggered by environmental factors, can lead to increased risk for stroke and heart attack as well as osteoporosis.

The Northwestern scientists also will request that all EPA-sponsored research require appropriate testing in both sexes. Currently many toxicity studies are only conducted in male animal models with the assumption that females are affected the same way, but that isn't necessarily true.

"What happens now is if researchers don't see an effect in males, they won't look in females," Timmerman said. "But we know certain toxins in the environment can have a significant effect on females and not males and vice versa."

Timmerman and colleagues will present a white paper to the EPA on how to improve and update the guidelines. View the white paper at: http://www.woodrufflab.org/sites/default/files/EPAWhitePaper.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Scientists to EPA: Include women in reproductive health research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016150720.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2012, October 16). Scientists to EPA: Include women in reproductive health research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016150720.htm
Northwestern University. "Scientists to EPA: Include women in reproductive health research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016150720.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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