College Essay Examples

Gender and sex in Research on Health and Genetics

Gender and sex in Research on Health and Genetics

Human sex is genetically linked to the XX and XY chromosomes in “normal” girls and men. Nevertheless, many genes located on different chromosomes have an impact on the development of sexual characteristics. Biological genetics is the study of genes, genetic diversity, and inheritance in living creatures. Even though human heredity has been studied for centuries, there may be new ways to prevent and treat illnesses including diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and oral malignancies, thanks to the merging of medical genetics and health sciences. This may lead to better treatment options for these and other conditions.

One benefit of using a multi-genomic and multi-contextual approach is the potential to understand health disparities between men and women better. We still don’t know why men and women are more or less susceptible to illness in various ways. It’s possible that sex-based biological differences, such as genetic differences, have an impact. Male and female gametes are produced via dyadic processes, which are linked to morphological variation (Wojcik et al., 2019). Although sex-specific variability in the genetic code is modest, its functional significance is still being investigated.

Gender disparities in health and lifespan are widespread and persistent throughout the population. Males have been shown to have lower survival and life expectancy rates than females throughout time, space, and even species. Women had more excellent morbidity rates than men when it came to death, which sparked a series of studies using national health data to examine the sex health conundrum. The following trends were discovered throughout the investigation: men tend to die younger from life-threatening chronic diseases (heart disease and cancer) due to sex differences in illness distribution, such as acute illnesses and most nonfatal daily symptoms, while women are more likely to have acute illnesses and chronic conditions, such as diabetes; and controlling for a wide range of social, behavioral factors reduces men’s mortality due to chronic diseases (heart disease and cancer). Some hypotheses contend that health disparities between men and women have a biological foundation due to variations in biology found only between sexes (Carrero et al., 2018, p. 151-164). Such differences first support the hypothesis of significant sexual dimorphism in vital physiological processes like immunological competence linked to reproductive biology and controlled by sex gonadotropin-releasing hormones across species. According to the study, the second finding is that insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling and oxidative stress generation vary across sexes. Another argument is that the primary genetic driver of variations in human lifespan is sex, and thus supports the notion that biological differences between men and women may ultimately be due to genes on the X and Y-chromosomes and in X inactivation.

Society’s efforts to understand the reasons for gender disparities in health and lifespan have led to new theories that emphasize behavioral and socioeconomic variables, including smoking, social status and stress, and societal structural elements. Having a lower socioeconomic level and working fewer hours compromises the health of women, for example. On the contrary, males are harmed due to the gender role in socialization, workplace risks, and health habits, including smoking, alcohol use, meat, fat intake, and violent behavior. Despite this, males gain more than women from higher levels of physical exercise, weight status, and positive psychological risk factors, including a more incredible feeling of mastery and self-worth (Carter et al., 2019). One significant shortcoming in current research is that only a few studies look at sex and gender disparities in health and lifespan from biological and social perspectives. Because of this, we don’t know much about the complex interactions between biological and social processes or how social circumstances may affect health patterns unique to gender.

Regarding health genetic research, gender and sex differences are often seen as physiologically based, as previously stated. An alternate strategy would be, to begin with, gender as a context and investigate how gendered experiences are integrated and represented in physiological processes and how and when genetic variables allow, restrict, or influence this process, or how these processes alter it. With more focused study, we may begin to understand the nature of these interactions and uncover new avenues for an explanation. Instead of focusing on sex-related genes as genetically essential variations, such an approach would look at the whole genome (Cirillo et al., 2020). Instead, it would acknowledge that gender-specific circumstances or settings may cause identical genetic variations in men and women to have distinct health consequences.

Final thoughts are on how gender and sex variations in health are included in genetics and health research and how social scientific understandings of gender and sex may be more thoroughly integrated into research in this field. These are the questions we began with. Even though sex is often used as a control or categorizing variable in research, our study found few publications that provide a conceptual framework or methodological rationale for this approach. To make the connection between sex-related genetic differences and gender disparities in health outcomes, we propose paying more attention to how biological and social variation interact throughout life. Genetic variations may be manifested differently depending on the physical or social setting, including the gendered or sexual environment. This might explain gender disparities in health.


Carrero, J. J., Hecking, M., Chesnaye, N. C., & Jager, K. J. (2018). Sex and gender disparities in the epidemiology and outcomes of chronic kidney disease. Nature Reviews Nephrology, 14(3), 151-164.

Carter, D. F., Razo Dueñas, J. E., & Mendoza, R. (2019). Critical examination of the role of STEM in propagating and maintaining race and gender disparities. Higher education: Handbook of theory and research, 39-97.

Cirillo, D., Catuara-Solarz, S., Morey, C., Guney, E., Subirats, L., Mellino, S., & Mavridis, N. (2020). Sex and gender differences and biases in artificial intelligence for biomedicine and healthcare. NPJ digital medicine, 3(1), 1-11.

Wojcik, G. L., Graff, M., Nishimura, K. K., Tao, R., Haessler, J., Gignoux, C. R., & Carlson, C. S. (2019). Genetic analyses of diverse populations improve discovery for complex traits. Nature, 570(7762), 514-518.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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