Men and women relate differently when it comes to friendship (no kidding, right?), so it shouldn't be a surprise that there are also differences on how gossip affects their relationships.
Basically, both men and women gossip in their friendships, but they do it differently. Women tend to chat about the physical things (outfits, hair, appearance) and what was going on in someone's life (dating life, work relationships, etc.), while men did more "achievement related gossip" (things like how much their friends made or who bought a new car).
What was interesting to note was that men, since they bond more in a group setting, tended to benefit more by gossip by developing a stronger bond that way.
For women, however, gossip proved more detrimental in their relationships. I think that's because women view gossip as a lack of trust. They share details about their life with people they think are friends, so when someone else blabs about their secrets they feel betrayed.
I also think men's gossip has a different motive. There might be an element of amazement or even respect as they chat about how much their pals make or how they just got a raise. It generally isn't hurtful, exposing their friends at their worse. Rather, it's silently admiring how well their friends are doing.
Women's gossip, as least according to this research, can be more hurtful and therefore affects their relationships more negatively.
My advice to all this is that if you're hanging with your friends, watch what you say. Try to be as positive as you can be, and if you share something, be sure that you aren't betraying a secret. Brag on your friends when they aren't around rather than talk about the things your friend is struggling with.