WASHINGTON – In a special Men’s Health Issue, AACC’s Clinical Chemistry journal spotlights breaking research that is crucial for men—and for patient populations with which men’s health isn’t historically associated, from transgender individuals to pregnant women. This issue aims not only to address men’s unmet health needs, but also to reduce health disparities by promoting dialogue between the men’s, women’s, and transgender health fields.  

Although medical research was male-centric until very recently, men still have significant unmet health needs, oftentimes resulting from the same social forces that have marginalized women’s and transgender health. For example, socially-enforced masculine ideals are increasingly being seen as a major cause of men’s shorter lifespans in wealthy countries when compared with women. The pressure for men to reject help and deny weakness leads to men seeking medical and mental healthcare less than women, and also contributes to men’s higher rates of suicide and substance abuse. This special issue of Clinical Chemistry highlights the need for initiatives that address the sex survival gap by helping men, starting in childhood, to become more skilled at taking care of themselves.

Health disparities also exist for overlooked subpopulations that the men’s health field encompasses, such as transgender individuals, who either identify as men or whose sex assigned at birth was male. Only about half of U.S. and Canadian medical schools teach content on gender transition, while the National Institutes of Health didn’t add a funding option for transgender research until 2017. This special issue strives to improve care for transgender patients by featuring much-needed research on this under-studied population. Two studies in the issue found, reassuringly, that transgender estrogen therapy is as safe as birth control pills and that hormone therapy does not increase cardiovascular disease risk, indicating that the psychological benefits of hormone therapy outweigh potential negative side effects. A third study could also improve quality of life for transgender men through its finding that intra-vaginal estrogen could prevent bacterial vaginosis caused by testosterone therapy.

New research in this special issue of Clinical Chemistry could also advance another field that is not traditionally connected to men’s health—maternal-fetal health. The results of one study in this issue suggest that treating low sperm quality in men could prevent recurring miscarriages in their female partners. Another paper links advanced paternal age with increased mutations in children, which supports emerging evidence that, contrary to popular belief, paternal age actually can impact a child’s health.

“Medicine of the early 21st century has been characterized by examining the disparities in sex, gender, and minority health,” wrote issue editors and men’s health experts Jason Y. Park, MD, PhD; Madeline Deutsch, MD; Wolfgang Koenig, MD, PhD; Hans Lilja, MD, PhD; and Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, in the preamble to the special issue. “In this special edition, we have [therefore] attempted to examine men’s health not as a monolithic topic, but rather an examination of health related to anatomy, gender, nationality, and various cultural practices. We hope that the readers will find this special issue useful in their clinical practice and professional development.”

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.myadlm.org.

Clinical Chemistry is the leading international journal of clinical laboratory science, providing 2,000 pages per year of peer-reviewed papers that advance the science of the field. With an impact factor of 8.636, Clinical Chemistry covers everything from molecular diagnostics to laboratory management.