Researchers say if women received the birth control of their choice for free, the nation's abortion rate would fall dramatically. TIME reports that more than 9,000 women got complimentary, FDA-approved contraception for three years, and at the end of the study, had an abortion rate of between 4.4. and 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women. The national rate? Nearly 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The pattern was even more pronounced when it came to teenage girls who got free contraception: Their abortion rate was 6.3 per 1,000 women, compared to a national rate of 34.3.
Folks in 23 states, including California, are at risk of contracting fungal meningitis if they received a steroid medication that was found to be contaminated with the rare but deadly disease, reports Reuters. The outbreak has killed five and sickened 35 so far, and has been traced to three lots of Methlyprednisolene Acetate from Massachusetts, which collectively contained more than 53,000 vials of the medication. Health officials say patients who received injections of the steroid are at risk of developing fungal meningitis for at least a month after their last exposure, so they're expecting more cases to emerge before the outbreak starts to recede.
A daily dose of aspirin may slow mental decline in older women who are at risk for heart disease, reports the BBC – but it makes no difference to the rate at which they develop dementia. Researchers also noted further study is needed because they don't fully know the long-term effects of regular aspirin use.
A Japanese study has found that in mice, viable eggs and sperm can be grown using stem cells, reports the Los Angeles Times – and they're optimistic it can be repeated with humans. That would present another option when it comes to fertility treatments.
HealthDay reports that the severely obese – people who are at least 100 pounds overweight – are growing in number, but the trend is slowing. Between 2000 and 2010, the prevalence of severe obesity in the U.S. increased 70 percent, which means that more than 15 million adults weigh at least 100 pounds too much.
Another study looking at obesity found that medication use is higher among children who are overweight or obese. Research appearing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood noted that medication adds to the already higher health care costs that come with managing unhealthy weight.
Finally, HealthDay reports on research that'll break the heart of coffee-lovers everywhere: People who drink at least three cups a day may be increasing their risk of glaucoma by up to 66 percent – a condition which can lead to vision loss or blindness. (We'd guess there are plenty of drinkers who will take those odds.)
Photo by Jenny Lee Silver via Flickr Creative Commons.