BY Susan Love
August 03 1999 12:00 AM ET
The future of women's health and lesbian health looks hopeful. We finally have studies under way that will start to answer many of the important questions. For example, the Women's Health Initiative is a large national study that includes a randomized, controlled, double-blind study of hormone-replacement therapy, calcium and vitamin D, and low-fat diet and their effects on heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. In addition, the study includes an observation arm that is documenting the experiences of many women from different ethnic, social, and sexual backgrounds as they enter menopause.
For the first time in a national study, a concerted effort is under way to include the experiences of self-identified lesbians. This study, along with the many ancillary studies it includes, is but one example of the extensive research going on and will be an important source of data for the first half of the next century.
Breast and many other cancers will experience a new paradigm of understanding. We will not approach cancer cells as foreign invaders that need to be annihilated but rather as our own cells that are suffering from a regulatory failure (lack of control). We will try to rehabilitate these cells or at least control them much as we try to rehabilitate or control members of society who step out of line. This approach will be more subtle and successful than the slash, burn, and poison of the past. The needed techniques are even now being studied in the laboratory and will soon move into the clinics.
I hope to see a new emphasis on lifestyle changes rather than drug therapy for the prevention of the diseases of aging. Smoking will disappear, and exercise will be fashionable. Everyone will eat a healthful diet, and we will live happily ever after.