We believe that embracing women’s health starts with research and ends with education.
Our own Carole Banka has her ‘cheerleading’ hat on promoting the relevance of women’s health in our community. “If we can touch the life of ONE woman in our community, then it’ll be ONE woman that will advocate for her own health”, she comments. “We need to address gender differences, even if it is one woman at a time”.
The presentations she gives go beyond the obvious differences between men and women and delve into subjects such as the relationship between obesity, stress, depression, heart disease and hormones. In the past two months, she has been invited to speak at two organizations that are making a difference in women’s lives in our community: The National CHEERS Foundation, and Las Damas de Fairbanks.
The secret to her success as a key note speaker lies in her humor: “It is said that a man’s testosterone level increases as he approaches the couch and, of course, HIS remote control… nothing could be farther than the truth!
As to how men manage stress, “… they tend to either fix things, or have the superpower of putting an issue aside. Men have the ability to compartmentalize — more like having ‘boxes’ in their brain. The idea, although foreign to us women, is quite understandable! In today’s terminology, the term coined back in the 30’s –fight or flight, speaks to the manner in which men manage their stress.
Women, on the other hand, work under a totally different paradigm.
Women today are used to multitasking — and expect to do so; we are unable to put life events into boxes. It is impossible for us to separate our children from what we feed them, for example. We have different stressors. Just think back to Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, Passover, Easter… the list is never ending! Heart pounding yet? It is because women are three times more likely to develop health issues related to stress than men or, at least, three times more likely to report stress. Depression and anxiety are just two examples. Contrary to men, women tend to share their emotions as a means to relieve stress.
In a world where things just seem to get more complicated every day, the great take away from Carole’s presentations is that she informs us as to the ‘why’ behind women’s health: how is stress identified and what are the differences between men’s and women’s stress? How does stress affect us? How do women perceive stress and how is it different than the way men perceive stress? What role do hormones play in our bodies and what is its relationship with stress, and, ultimately, our health? What parts of our bodies fight stress? What role does gender play in how men and women combat stress?
“If anything, what I have learned from Carole is how to have a healthy fight with my husband. Even during my strongest arguments, I am capable of reasoning and realizing that he responds to stress in a different manner; which ultimately helps to manage my own stress levels when dealing with everyday, ‘stressing’ issues”, comments Carolyn Wells.
Carole is currently Associate Project Scientist in the Department of Medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. from UCSF School of Medicine and did postdoctoral training at UCSD School of Medicine and The Scripps Research Institute. She has held faculty positions at The Scripps Research Institute and the La Jolla Institute for Molecular Medicine where she was Director of Women’s Health Research. Her areas of research include heart disease, fat and cholesterol metabolism, menopause, breast cancer and reproductive biology. She was a co-author on the American Heart Association’s seminal “Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women: 2007 update”, one of her 40 publications. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DOD breast cancer program), the California Breast Cancer Program, the California Tobacco Program and the American Heart Association.
Carole will be speaking this upcoming Thursday, October 15th at the McMillin Center at Liberty Station. And don’t stress about the event… it’s free! For information about the event please visit www.howellfoundation.org. Register soon, as seating is almost at full capacity!
About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:
The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community.
The organization does so by funding scholarships to students researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, and researchers to convey timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that improve the health of under-served women and increase awareness and advocacy in the community.