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JAMA 100 Years Ago
September 16, 1998


Author Affiliations

Edited by Brian P. Pace, MA.

JAMA. 1998;280(11):962E. doi:10.1001/jama.280.11.962


Curiously enough, while the tendency in modern civilization is to eliminate the distinctions in the political and economic status of men and women, that of medicine has been to exaggerate the natural difference of the manifestation of disease between the sexes.

The object of this essay is not so much to show how many as how few are the differences. The influence of sex on the course of general disease is wholly a matter of soil and environment; that is, the disease is the same, with the same tendencies, and possible terminations, but modified by the constitution of the person and not by sex. Granted that individual constitution does affect the course of disease, we must determine whether its characteristics differ according to sex, or whether they differ among individuals regardless of sex. To predict our conclusions it will be found that the course of general diseases is not affected materially by difference of sex, except in a few instances that are easily defined and pointed out. Apart from variety of occupation and greater or less exposure there are few factors which alter the percentage of men and women who acquire infectious diseases. Typhoid, typhus and the exanthemata affect the sexes equally.

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