Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fraught "Female Things"

"The study is asking if [health differences] are due to biology or if it's really gender characteristics."
"[The study sorts patients on] traditionally attributed [gender traits to focus on] non-biological [differences between male and female heart patients]."
Dr. Louise Pilote, professor, McGill University Health Centre
"New parents need time away from work to care for their young children"

Studies, they crop up everywhere on every possible subject, with scientists probing all possible dimensions in human behaviour, physiology, gender, disease and genetic endowment, lifestyle and environmental factors to hazard informed answers to vexing human problems. Now a new study of 909 heart patients has led researchers to claim that the more "male"-centered activities people engage in, the better off they are as pertains to heart health.

Contending, through the study, that when male subjects undertake traditionally female roles, for example in caring for and raising children, that exposure increases stress on the heart. In other words, what women have always believed, that the stressors involved in coping with the multifarious needs of children age them prematurely, has been given the stamp of agreement by scientific investigators.

Of course there are some fathers who have shared with mothers of their children the emotional and actionable burdens of raising them; in which case it could be assumed that both parents then risk straining their hearts detrimentally to long-term survival. Some wags would nod knowingly and quip that these are the rewards for having children. Others might be swift to argue that this is why they don't want children.

In any event, the study, named Sex Versus Gender-Related Characteristics, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, asserts that with the aid of cardiac patients filling out questionnaires, the researchers were enabled to gauge where the patients appeared on the "gender index". Questions such as: "For the children that live with you, to what level are you responsible for caring for them?", led researchers to their conclusions.

It was found that stay-at-home fathers responded with "female" answers, whereas the mother in the family who happened to represent the primary breadwinner was more "male" in her responses. "The lower the score, the more the patient reported characteristics traditionally ascribed to men; and vice-versa", the study reported.

32 percent of the 636 men surveyed fit into the "characteristics ascribed to women" category that represented child-rearers, low-income earners and those performing the major portion of household chores. In the "men" category, however, a mere six women were slotted in. All who were slotted into the female category were seen to be at higher risk of having a second heart attack.

The conclusion? Responsibility for housework, a personality that reflects sensitivity to the needs of dependents represented female traits linked with a higher risk of mortality. "Hours of paid work have increased significantly among women in the past 20 to 30 years, which in addition to child care responsibilities may lead to increased psychosocial stress", noted the study.

A finding that will take no one by surprise; in fact, the very situation provides its own answers. This study out of McGill University is not alone in its conclusions. The Japan Public Health Centre undertook a 2009 study finding Japanese women raising children were twice as likely as their married but childless counterparts, to be susceptible to heart disease.

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