We’re all aware how often research in the health industry changes – sometimes drastically – from year to year. Although studies need to be completed and reviewed hundreds of times before deemed “factual”, these developments often hit the media as breaking news before all the appropriate measures have been taken. Then, before we know it, Sensa is the latest fad in weight loss and we’re seeing bottles being sprinkled everywhere.

Although it’s hard to keep up with all-things-healthy for women, it’s important we stay as informed and educated as possible so we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our family. Huffington Post collected 13 health studies from 2013 all of us ladies should be familiar with.

teenage girl at doctor's office

1. IUDs are safe for teens. Intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are small, t-shaped contraceptives that are inserted into a woman’s uterus to help prevent pregnancy. Not only are they very effective (Planned Parenthood estimates that less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant each year using an IUD), they’re also safe for teens, according to a major study that included more than 90,000 participants, and found that serious complications occurred in less than 1 percent of women with an IUD.

2. Birth control may cost more in poorer neighborhoods. A startling public-health investigation that looked at the cost of birth control control prescriptions in Florida found significant differences in cost: Nearly every prescription contraceptive cost less in wealthy zip codes than in low-income areas. Though the study was preliminary and only focused on one state, it raised big concerns about women’s access to low-cost contraceptive options.

3. … And the need for it is enormous. Figures released in a United Nations study last March found that by 2015, a whopping 233 million women worldwide will have an unmet need for modern contraceptive options — i.e. the pill, IUDs, condoms, vaginal barrier methods, emergency contraception or male and female sterilization. As one reproductive health expert put it, “Contraception is the single most cost-effective intervention that can reduce maternal mortality … improve maternal and child health and help women and families achieve their desired family size.”

woman eating berries in her kitchen

4. Berries may slash women’s heart attack risk. An investigation published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had a 32-percent reduction in their heart attack risk when compared to women who ate them once a month or less — even when those women ate plenty of other fruits and veggies. Researchers hypothesize that the reduced risk is due to a certain type of flavonoid in berries that may help prevent plaque build up, so it’s possible that other fruits and vegetables (and even wine) could have similar effects, too.

5. Inflammation-spurring foods may increase depression risk. An investigation that followed more than 43,000 women between 1996 and 2008 found that women who ate the most inflammation-linked foods and beverages (think refined grains, like bagels and pasta, soda and red meat) had a 29 percent higher risk of depression compared to those who ate the lowest amount. Of course, it’s possible that depression may lead women to eat more of these foods, although researchers excluded women who had depression when the study started in order to help control for that effect.

6. Women’s mercury levels are down. A comprehensive report released by the Environmental Protection Agency this year showed that levels of mercury in the blood of women in the U.S. have dropped — not necessarily because women are eating less fish overall, but because they’re making smarter choices about the type of fish they eat. (Mercury has been linked to kidney and neurologic disorders.) Large, predatory fish, like shark and swordfish tend to be high in mercury.

woman sleeping in her bed

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