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7 Medical Breakthroughs for Women

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Your Future: Good Health

Imagine a day when medications are custom-designed to be delivered at the right time and the right dose, based on your DNA and sophisticated diagnostic tests that will help doctors identify conditions like breast cancer and heart disease earlier -- and possibly even prevent them.

These developments will be possible within the next two decades, thanks to researchers who catalogued the female X-chromosome last year and uncovered unexpected variations in how those genes behave. "This is a huge advance," says Sherry Marts, PhD, of the Society for Women's Health Research. "We've learned that women, more than men, are a mosaic of different genetic influences."

These findings are expected to yield fresh insights into cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and other illnesses that strike women. This means that scientists may be able to understand and predict which diseases individual women will get, which symptoms to watch out for, and which treatments will be most effective, says Laura Carrel, PhD, a geneticist at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey. "These discoveries are very important first steps in that direction."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2006.


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