Monday, March 07, 2005

An Aspirin for Larry Summers

In January this year, Harvard University President Larry Summers spoke about gender disparities between men and women at a diversity conference. Although his stated goal was "provocation", he suggested that "rigorous and careful" thinking was needed to explain the gender gap among tenured science professors. We all know the denouement his words have evoked. We are all aware of what has happened to President Summers for the implication he espoused that ... (light bulb please) ... men and women are genetically different! We all are aware also that the very same "powers-that-be" have reacted in a mirror image fashion to the nutty Professor Ward Churchill.

We could offer the beleaguered Ivy League President an aspirin, but after reading today's Washington Post, it may cause him an even bigger headache with the "oh so" politically correct intelligentsia. Will that bastion of higher learning, Harvard University, react to this study, or just ignore it?

Study: Aspirin Impacts Women Differently Than Men

Aspirin does not protect women against heart attacks in the same way it does for men, but the venerable painkiller does cut women's chances of suffering a stroke, researchers reported today.

The study found that aspirin does not reduce the risk of first heart attacks for middle-aged women, as it does for men, but does cut the risk of strokes, which is not the case for men. But aspirin does lower the chances of having a heart attack for older women -- those age 65 and above, when the stroke-reduction benefits also appear to be the greatest.

The results add powerful new evidence to the growing body of data showing that men and women differ in fundamental ways on various aspects of health, and that research done on men does not necessarily translate directly to women.

"This truly underscores the importance of studying medical therapies among women as well as men," said Buring, whose findings were released early by The New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando. "We can't assume studies involving men apply to women."

This is great news for women, but I doubt that it will help Mr. Summers with his current kerfuffle, as logic is not in demand at liberal universities, such as Harvard and the University of Colorado.

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