Threats of popping a painkiller or antidepressant without a second thought depend on your sex.
Painkillers and antidepressants may work differently in men and women as the potential therapeutics are rarely tested in females, a new study has claimed.
Hormones and other variables make a difference in how potential therapeutics behaves, and both males and females must be accounted for in trials to move medical advances forward, researchers said.
“Right now, when you go to the doctor and you are given a prescription, it might not ever have been specifically tested in females,” said researcher Deborah Clegg. Although, it is believed that a new painkiller or antidepressant will be equally effective in either sex, a growing number of scientists say hormones and genetic differences affect how medicines behave in the body – meaning drugs might affect women differently to men.
“Almost all basic research – regardless of whether it involves rodent models, dogs, or humans – is predominately done in males. The majority of research is done with the assumption that men and women are biologically the same,” Clegg said.
Experts, in the journal Cell Metabolism, said both men and women must be accounted for in trials to move medical advances forward. Clegg further said that one reason women are excluded from studies is levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during the menstrual cycle.
This may impact the study, so researchers often use men instead. But the sex hormones are implicated in all biological processes, including sensitivity to fatty acids, or the ability to metabolise simple sugars.
Clegg stated that the differences have implications for all clinical trials, whether they are testing the effects of a drug or a body’s ability to tolerate an organ transplant. She claimed many researchers don’t know how to properly include sex as a variable in their experiments, adding that they include females in their study without addressing if they are pre- or post-menopause, whether they are on birth control pills, or if they are taking hormone blockers.