Why is some medicine less effective on women? Over 75% of lab animals are male.

Men.

‌'Sup, totally natural group of friends captured candidly. Photo via iStock.‌

We have it pretty good. Especially when it comes to our health.


Not only do we get to write the health care legislation...

‌Hell yeah. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Getty Images.‌

...but increasingly, we're getting all the good medical treatment.

We can thank lab animals for this — and the researchers who study them.

For a long time, researchers believed that male animals were better for trials of new medicine.

It was widely assumed that hormone cycles in females would screw up the results.

As a result, currently, over 75% of all lab animals are male.

‌The problem with lady mice is it seems you can't experiment on 'em without them getting all in their feeeeelings. Amiright? Photo by China Photos/Getty Images.‌

The problem is, when you test primarily on male animals, you're making medicine that's more likely to be effective for, well, men.

At least, that's what a recent study found.

According to a report in New Scientist, researcher Natasha Karp and a team from the U.K.'s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute studied tens of thousands of mice of both sexes. They found that when you switch off genes in male mice, the mice express different traits then when you switch off the same genes in female mice.

If genes express themselves differently depending on the sex of the animal, the researchers found, so do some genetic diseases.

Gene therapy: rad as hell. Photo by Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images.‌

The team concluded that "drugs optimized for male animals may be less effective in females, or even cause harm." Of the 10 drugs that were pulled from the market between 1997 and 2001, they explained, eight were riskier for women.

Male animal-bias also means drugs that work better for women might not even make it into testing to begin with.

As with the debate over what constitutes an "essential" health care benefit (according to some hi-larious U.S. senators, mammograms shouldn't), when it comes to "who constitutes a full human," it appears men are the considered default setting, while women are an afterthought.

‌We're the default! We're the default! Photo via iStock.‌

It's a pretty sweet gig for us men.

The thing is, women are half of us. We like them.

As fully formed human beings with lives, free will, hopes, dreams, and so on, it'd be nice if medicine worked better on them when they got diseases.

There's been some progress toward making medical experiments more equitable, at least where human subjects are concerned.

Clinical trials (on humans) used to involve pretty much no women. Now most are 30-40% female, though that still means women are underrepresented.

This wax head in an MRI machine is genderless, but hey, a woman is putting it there! Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images.‌

Thanks to efforts of researchers like Karp and her team, we now know we need to extend that progress to the animal kingdom as well.

"Unless there’s a really good reason not to, we should be using both sexes in biomedical research," Karp told New Scientist.

Male animals, she argued, have traits just as particular as female hormone cycles that make them similarly varied from an ideal "norm."

Ultimately, more comprehensive research benefits us all — men and women.

Better studies lead to more effective medicine, which leads to less sickness and sadness all around.

That's the hope anyway.

The animals of both genders who turn out to help us out with this project deserve a hearty "thank you."

‌Thanks, buds. Photo via iStock.‌

If we start with equal treatment, we might finally get some equal treatment.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture