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Women’s Health Discoveries in 2013: From Birth Control to Cancer Prevention

Women’s Health Discoveries in 2013: From Birth Control to Cancer Prevention

two women cheering

Now that drones are set to deliver mail, it would seem like there isn’t much left separating us from The Jetsons. Even in healthcare, new developments are consistently being made: although studies need to be replicated several times over to be proven, there’s still overwhelming evidence that we’re making a lot of progress.  The Huffington Post recently released a list of women’s health studies for this year that may answer some long-standing questions and concerns:

  • All About Birth Control: One study released by the United Nations revealed that by 2015, 233 million women across the world won’t have access to modern contraceptive options. That means 233 million women without condoms, the pill, emergency contraception, or sterilization procedures, which can result in reduced maternal mortality and a large increase in population. Another study found that intrauterine devices, also known as IUDs, are incredibly effective. The T-shaped contraceptive is insterted into the uterus, and it’s estimated that less than 1 in 100 women using this method will accidentally get pregnant. Finally, a public-health investigation in Florida looked at the cost of birth control compared to the neighborhoods, and reached a startling discovery: contraceptive options are more expensive in poorer neighborhoods.
  • Delicious Differences: Food means more to our health than what we realize, some studies suggest. One published by the American Heart Association found that women who ate at least three servings of berries per week had a significant reduction in their risk for a heart attack. Another study found that foods linked to inflammation, such as red meat and pasta, put women at a higher risk of developing depression. Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that women’s levels of mercury have decreased significantly due to eating smarter. While fish consumption hasn’t decreased, women are now more likely to consume fish with lower levels of mercury.
  • What You Thought You Knew: A few studies even challenged what was thought to be common knowledge, and blew us away. The European Society of Human Reproduction discovered that sleep can have a huge impact on fertility—specifically, women who sleep too much or too little during the natural sleep cycle period (at night) have a higher risk for infertility and miscarriage. On a lighter note, another study discovered that a previous cancer diagnosis doesn’t appear to affect fertility. Women aged 18 to 39 who were diagnosed with cancer earlier in life appeared to have very little difference in pregnancy rates than women who never had cancer. Finally, researchers at Duke University discovered that women treated with early-stage breast cancer may have better luck with a lumpectomy than a full mastectomy. Lumpectomies paired with radiation and other treatments may impact the survival rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer, although the results have not been finalized.

As you start gearing up for 2014, reviewing major health studies can help you make healthy New Year’s resolutions. Eating smarter and getting enough sleep are just two of the most basic things we learned this year, leaving next year wide open for discoveries. Tell us how you plan on using the above information: were you surprised at all?