30 Achievements in Women's Health in 30 Years (1984 – 2014)

Woman reading a prescription

Dangerous drugs and devices for women removed from market

Women have historically played an important role in supporting safe food and effective medicines, with the support of women’s groups helping to usher in the modern FDA. Today, FDA is responsible for approving medications based on data from clinical trials. But the FDA’s supervision of drugs doesn’t end with approval. The agency continues to collect information about complications from drugs and medical devices after they are on the market. Sometimes, for example, a drug or device may have side effects not shown in clinical trials. When this happens, the FDA reviews the facts and may request withdrawal of the drug or device from the market.

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Caregiver helping an old woman walk

Improvements in support to caregivers

Nearly two-thirds of caregivers for older adults are women — usually the wives or daughters of those who need support. These women provide long-term care and support, from grocery shopping and housecleaning to help in dressing and eating. Caregivers might also help with finances or make medical decisions. More than half of informal caregivers are also working at full-time or part-time jobs.

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Older woman talking to doctor

Improvements in older women's health

Women are not only living longer today, but their quality of life as they age has improved in the past 30 years. We owe part of this progress to improved treatments and better medications to treat stroke, HIV/AIDS, and certain cancers, including colon and breast cancers.

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Three older women laughing

Largest women's health prevention study ever – Women's Health Initiative

Some of the most common diseases that affect women after menopause are cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death among U.S. women), breast cancer (the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women), colorectal cancer (the third-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women), and osteoporosis (the leading cause of bone fracture in U.S. women). In 1991, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of NIH, launched the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) to understand better how these diseases affect post-menopausal women and to reduce the number of women who develop and die from these diseases.

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Woman shopping

FDA helps women and families meet their nutritional needs

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 gave FDA the authority, for the first time, to require nutrition labeling on foods. The Nutrition Facts label provides consumers with easy-to-understand, per-serving information on calories, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and vitamins. To help people choose heart-healthy foods, in 2003, the FDA required food labels to include trans fat content. One year later, in 2004, the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act also required the labeling of any food that contains peanuts, soybeans, cow's milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, and wheat.

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