Fighting for Women's Health

Article excerpt

Byline: Ann Geracimos, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson doesn't go in for silly sound bites. Asked at Monday's Society for Women's Health Research dinner to guess how much job time he spends on women's health issues, he instead answered soberly in personal terms.

Both his mother and his mother-in-law died of breast cancer, he said; his wife, who runs a women's health foundation in Wisconsin, had it. "And my daughter just found out she has it."

The genetic component of breast cancer is well-known. Less well-understood are other gender-specific matters in the health field that the 14-year-old organization exists to highlight and help solve - such as the facts that more women than men develop lung cancer and that women are 2.7 times more likely to acquire an autoimmune disease.

The $1,000-per-person benefit at Washington's Ritz-Carlton, which celebrated cutting-edge medical technology, annually brings together hundreds of doctors, researchers, government officials and nonprofit and pharmaceutical-industry executives in one giant network stew. It follows a familiar formula - reception, dinner and musical entertainment. …