For the Howell Foundation, women’s health is year round. It’s a celebration — and well deserved recognition– of the long path that scientists have taken to ensure that gender differences in health research become a standard for illness detection, medical treatment and drug development based on and for women.
This year, Women’s Health Week is focused on recognizing that the health of each women is unique. The Office on Women’s Health is highlighting the following key areas:
- A yearly checkup as a preventive measure.
- Exercise and nutrition
- Mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress
- Practice healthy, safe behaviors: quitting smoking, not texting while driving, and protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections, among others.
Women’s health is about having reliable, science-based information, at the right time, to make the right decision. The Howell Foundation has delivered the latest information on women’s health research through its Luncheon Program for 25 years. We’ve selected some of the most relevant presentations (and updates) we have had throughout the past five years that further highlight the importance of research.
This summary developed for Women’s Health Week is conceptualized as a go-to guide to the common actions we can take to keep healthy. It supports and encompasses this year’s Women’s Health Week topics. We hope you find it useful.
To kick-off our list, we started 2021 with the second installment of out “Top Ten Stories in Women’s Health.” “I was a big fan of Dr. Howell and knew her. I think she would be so tickled to see some of the advances that have gone on in women’s health. I think she was very much an advocate for research and for finding the truth and emphasizing the value of science,” comments Dr. Cynthia Stuenkel, who discussed heart health at our webinar in February.
The “Top Ten Stories in Women’s Health”, first edition (2020), walked us through the top research impacting women’s health, determined research needs for the betterment of women’s health, explored how to integrate the latest research findings into the diagnosis and treatment of women, and presented an overall update on the pressing issues that affect women in our community.
Exercise continues to come up as part of researchers’ recommendation to maintain women’s health. Dr. Dodi Sears, Associate Professor of Medicine from UCSD came to speak at the Howell Foundation’s luncheon in May of 2016. This summary exemplifies the benefits of movement on our health. We are reminded of Dr. LaCroix’s words “Light physical activity reduces cardiovascular disease, and all movement counts.”
Along our list of women’s health presentations, the general conclusion is that nutrition plays an integral part of our health. The fact is — and all of our speakers have at some point concluded — that poor nutrition has an effect on illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart health leading the list. The Howell Foundation hosted Dr. Robert Bonakdar in 2015, who gave us an insight of which foods to avoid when dealing with chronic pain. Still relevant today, nutrition is part of the formula to stay healthy all year long.
One cannot address mental health without discussing cognitive decline. In 2020, Dr. Linda McEvoy walked us through the changes the brain goes through as we progress in life, and why women are more prone to cognitive decline. She is one of the Principal Investigators of the Rancho Bernardo Study, a local research project leading the way in cognitive health and aging at a national level. As a matter of fact, it is one of the longest, continuously funded, NIH observational studies in the US.
Continuing with the topic of mental health, depression in women differs from depression in men in several ways. It may happen earlier in a women’s life, last longer, and tends to be recurring. A major contributor includes a stressful life, and being more prone to seasonal changes. Depression in women is also linked to other conditions, such as anxiety and eating disorders. From menopause and other hormonal fluctuations, to life altering experiences, to mental health disorders, depression has many sources. It is important to understand the underlying cause in order to address the issue. This graphic helps explain more about depression in women.
Sleep is perhaps one of the most important functions for women’s health, and a . strategy to manage stress. The National Sleep Foundation paints a pretty clear picture on how lack of sleep affects women and their health, how they cope and a few recommendations on how to get a good night’s sleep. Presented by Dr. Andrea LaCroix, this presentation provided key information on how we sleep, as well as tips to improve our snooze. Stats are included!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our walk down memory lane. The leading scientists that have presented and continue to convey their findings at our events inspire us to keep our work in providing our community with the latest research findings affecting women’s health. Please check our site for our webinar and events program, and catch up with the latest presentations at www.howellfoundation.org.
Happy, Healthy week.
About the Howell Foundation:
For a remarkable 25 years, the Howell Foundation advances women’s health by funding undergraduate and graduate research scholarships, awarding grants to scientists who conduct research benefiting under represented women in the community, and supporting outreach efforts and events that promote health education and self-advocacy for the long-term health and well-being of women, their families and the community in which they live.