Certain health conditions and diseases including menopause, pregnancy, ovarian, cervical cancer, breast cancer; certain autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, and osteoporosis occur only in women. A number of these may be environmentally mediated. Data from a recent study on urban air pollution suggest that women have a greater risk of developing fatal coronary heart disease as a result of long-term exposure to airborne particles than their male counterparts. Research conducted by NIEHS-supported scientists shows that nighttime exposure to artificial light stimulates the growth of human breast tumors, a finding that may explain why female night shift workers have higher rates of breast cancer than the general population. In 1994, NIEHS researchers isolated a tumor-suppressor gene, BRCA1, which is known to play a critical role in the development of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Still other health conditions may affect women differently or in disproportionate rates than men.
What is NIEHS Doing?
NIEHS Research Efforts
- A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change (Full Report) (4MB) - A Report Outlining the Research Needs on the Human Health Effects of Climate Change.
- Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves - Fueled by wood, coal, or dung, these traditional cookstoves or open fires produce smoke that contributes to the 4.3 million estimated annual deaths from exposures to household air pollution, with women and young children the most affected.
- Programs and Initiatives: Climate Change and Human Health - The federal government has called for efforts to support adaptation and mitigation of climate change to create healthier, more sustainable communities. The goals of the NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program align with these efforts.
- Uterine Fibroids Study - Uterine leiomyomata, also known as fibroids, are the leading indication for hysterectomy in the United States. Despite the morbidity and high medical costs associated with fibroids, there has been little epidemiologic study of this condition. These benign tumors are hormone-dependent, develop after puberty and regress after menopause. Both estrogen and progesterone are considered important stimulants, or at least permissive factors for tumor growth. To address the need to understand this condition in order to develop nonsurgical treatments and eventually to prevent the condition, collaborators designed the Uterine Fibroid Study.
Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS Newsletter)
- How Environmental Exposures Impact Women’s Health (May 2018)
- Women’s Health Awareness Day Empowers Participants From 27 Counties (May 2017)
- Women’s Health Awareness Day draws more than 600 participants (May 2017)
- EVATAR — breakthrough female reproductive model (April 2017)
- The Placenta — Early Mediator of Environmental Exposure (October 2016)
- Vitamin D Levels May Drop When Women Stop Using Birth Control (September 2016)
- NIH Launches Large Study of Pregnant Women and Zika (July 2016)
- Clayton Shows Why Researchers Must Study and Report on Both Sexes (June 2016)
- Treating Menopause Symptoms Without Promoting Breast Cancer (May 2016)
- Women's Health Awareness Day Educates and Inspires (May 2016)
- Endometriosis Highlighted in Capitol Hill Briefings (April 2016)
- Battling Uterine Fibroids (November 2015)
- Placental Cadmium Linked to Increased Risk of Preeclampsia (November 2015)
- A Scientist Gives Back — Rahman On Women's Environmental Health (August 2015)
- NIEHS Recruiting Volunteers for New Study on Black Cohosh (August 2015)
- Forum Explores Environmental Impacts on Women's Health (September 2014)
Printable Fact Sheets
- Apoptosis: Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
- Center for Medicare and Medicaid: Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative - The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative, an effort by the Department of Health and Human Services, aims to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women.
- Cervical Cancer - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: NIH Research Timelines Fact Sheet.
- Disease Prevention Toolkit - Taking steps to protect your health is the best way to prevent disease and other conditions. Health screenings, vaccines, and guarding yourself from germs and bugs can help keep you feeling your best.
- Healthy People - Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
- HHS Prenatal Care Fact Sheet - from the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Lactmed - The LactMed® database contains information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed. It includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood, and the possible adverse effects in the nursing infant.
- National Women's Health Information Center - from the Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Uterine Fibroids - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: NIH Research Timelines Fact Sheet.
- ZIKA Care Connect (ZCC) - a searchable database of specialists available in several states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A CDC-developed and funded website which helps users locate specialty health care professionals who can provide clinical services for the management and care of patients with Zika. The website is hosted and maintained by the March of Dimes.
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