Promoting healthy ageing and personalised health care requires attention to sex differences and to gender aspects as they jointly determine any eventual health outcome of individuals. High quality research must take into account biological, behavioural and social differences between girls and boys, men and women and gender diverse people. In addition it is relevant to examine how differences and similarities develop throughout the lifespan. Other relevant issues within SC1 are, for instance: risk factor for chronic diseases (NCD), mental health, diet, nutrition and exercise patterns, data collection in basic and preclinical research, collection and use of “big data“ for understanding disease pathways and risk factors leading to disease, etc.1.

Chemical Contamination:

In daily life, men, women, and children are exposed to different kinds of chemicals in varying concentrations. The level of exposure to toxic chemicals—as well as the resulting impacts on human health—are determined by social as well as biological factors.[…] Several factors, including differences in occupational roles, household responsibilities, and biological susceptibility, impact gender differences in exposure to toxic chemicals and the resulting health impacts. […]

Women often experience relatively higher physiologial susceptibility to the impacts of toxic chemical exposure, especially in connection with reproductive cycles. At particular stages of their lives, such as pregnancy, lactation, and menopause, women’s bodies undergo rapid physiological change, making them more vulnerable to health damage from toxic chemicals. Women’s exposure to pesticides can be the cause of miscarriages, premature births, birth defects, and low birth weight (WHO 2004). A substantial portion (up to 33 percent) of a woman’s chemical burden can be passed on to her baby during gestation (through the placenta) as well as via breastfeeding. Moreover, because of their special reproductive roles, women are biologically engineered to carry greater reserves of fatty tissue throughout their life cycles, making them generally more vulnerable than men to the impacts of fat-soluble chemicals (such as Persistent Organic Pollutants—POPs). Men also have unique vulnerabilities based on their physiology and the types and frequency of chemical exposure they typically encounter in the workplace. Illnesses associated with men’s occupational exposures to toxic chemicals include a variety of cancers, chronic diseases, and reduced reproductive capacity. In many societies, it is generally accepted that men can be asked to do more dangerous jobs than women therefore increasing the likelihood of exposure to hazardous situations and chemicals (WHO 2004).

Source: UNDP. 2007. Gender Mainstreaming a Key Driver of Development in Environment & Energy. Chemicals Management (Energy & Environment Practice - Gender Mainstreaming Guidance Series),  (pp.1-4)


  • 1. Source: H2020-AG-GENDER (2015), p. 4