Health Desk

Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans on the insurance marketplaces. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage.

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Throughout history, atrocities have been committed in the name of medical research.

Nazi doctors experimented on concentration camp prisoners. American doctors let poor black men with syphilis go untreated in the Tuskegee study. The list goes on.

"The reality is this outbreak's not over," says Dr. William Fischer, speaking about Ebola. "It's just changed."

Fischer, a professor at the University of North Carolina who's been studying Ebola survivors, was speaking about the new cases in Liberia. On Monday, a 15-year-old died of the disease. The teenager's father and brother have also tested positive for Ebola. Health authorities have not yet determined how the family was infected.

The last time you ate cranberry – perhaps as a dried snack, in a glass of juice or as a saucy condiment with the Thanksgiving turkey – it was likely paired with sugar, and a lot of it. A cup of cranberry juice may be packed with antioxidants, but it has about 30 grams (or 7.5 teaspoons) of sugar.

Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game.

But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections.

A 15-year-old boy died of Ebola in Liberia on Monday night, the first person in the country to perish from the disease since July, health officials say.

For a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, meeting the daily expectations of home and school life can be a struggle that extends to bedtime. The stimulant medications commonly used to treat ADHD can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep, a study finds. And that can make the next day that much harder.

Pope Francis is often seen as a champion of the downtrodden. He frequently speaks about poverty and the injustice of inequality.

During his upcoming visit to Africa — from Nov. 25 to 30 — he'll visit three countries with high rates of poverty and rapidly growing economies: Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

His presence is certain to attract a lot of attention. But will his visit benefit poor people in these countries? What kind of difference, if any, can a visit from the pope make?

If egg freezing once sounded like science fiction, those days are over. Women now hear about it from their friends, their doctors and informational events like Wine and Freeze.

Shady Grove Fertility Center in the Washington, D.C., area hosts Wine and Freeze nights for prospective patients every few months. Fifteen or so women in their 30s gathered at one recently over wine, brownies and sticky buns. A doctor explained the procedure, the costs and the odds of frozen eggs resulting in a baby — which decline as a woman ages.

Remember that health class you had in middle school? Where you found out all that stuff about your body? We wondered why there wasn't a class like that for middle age. Could someone tell us what happens to us as we move through the decades?

Morning Edition asked listeners to send their questions about women's bodies and aging as part of our ongoing series Changing Lives of Women. We heard from hundreds of you asking about everything from sleeplessness to STDs to sex in old age.

Tiny computers have allowed us to do things that were once considered science fiction. Take the 1960s film, Fantastic Voyage, where a crew is shrunk to microscopic size and sent into the body of an injured scientist.

While we aren't shrinking humans quite yet, scientists are working with nanotechnology to send computers inside patients for a more accurate and specific, diagnosis.

A look at the brain's wiring can often reveal whether a person has trouble staying focused, and even whether he or she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.

A team led by researchers at Yale University reports that they were able to identify many children and adolescents with ADHD by studying data on the strength of certain connections in their brains.

Doctors, patients and insurers have been struggling with how to determine who should be treated for hepatitis C now that effective but wildly expensive drugs can all but cure the disease. Treating prison inmates is a good investment that would save money in the long run, a study finds.

Board meetings for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital are usually pretty dismal affairs. The facility in remote Fort Bragg, Calif., has been running at a deficit for a decade and barely survived a recent bankruptcy.

But finally, in September, the report from the finance committee wasn't terrible. "This is probably the first good news that I've experienced since I've been here," said Dr. Bill Rohr, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital for 11 years. "This is the first black ink that I've seen."

If you've ever been vaccinated, you may have seen the nurse head out of the room to go to the refrigerator to retrieve your injection. That's because most vaccines must be refrigerated during travel and storage or they lose their effectiveness.

Vaccines typically need what's known as a "cold chain." From the point of manufacture to the place where they're used, they need to be kept within a narrow temperature range, typically between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember the headlines a few weeks back, when the World Health Organization categorized red and processed meats as cancer-causing?

Turns out, the techniques you use to prepare your meat seem to play into this risk.

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn't just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

"The refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries." It could have been said today about the Syrian refugee crisis, but those words belong to President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940.

When A Stranger Leaves You $125 Million

Nov 21, 2015

One morning last year, when Bryan Bashin sat down to check his email, a peculiarly short note caught his attention.

"A businessman has passed away. I think you might want to talk to us," it read.

Bashin directs a nonprofit in San Francisco called the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, so he gets a lot of email about donations. But this one felt different. It came from a group of lawyers handling the estate of a Seattle businessman who had died, Donald Sirkin.

I remember being handed a white coat during my first year of medical school. It came crisply folded in a cellophane bag. I was told to wear it anytime we were in the hospital or with patients as a sign of respect.

There was no pomp about it. I took it home and tried it on. It was like putting on a costume and pretending to play doctor. The white coat continued to feel that way to me for a long time.

Where do you call home?

It seems like a simple question. But for ten million people around the world, there is no easy answer: They are stateless. They lack basic documents like a passport or a national ID card. And so they may not be able to go to school, hold a job, own land, get health care.

Photographer Greg Constantine calls them "Nowhere People" — that's the title of his new book, which documents the daily lives these individuals.

The giant roundworm looks a lot like an earthworm. It's pinkish, up to a foot long and can live for two years.

Opioids have a stranglehold on parts of the U.S. And where addictive pain medicines are the drug of choice, clinics for addiction treatment often follow.

Sometime these are doctor's offices where patients can get painkiller-replacement drugs, such as Subutex and Suboxone.

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The National Institutes of Health decided their last 50 research chimps are no longer needed. That means some new tenants are coming to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Louisiana. Cathy Willis Spraetz runs the group, and she's on the line with us.

After twice being declared Ebola-free, Liberia is reporting new cases of the disease.

The first case that was confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, was a 10-year-old boy in the capital, Monrovia. He fell ill on Nov. 14, was hospitalized a few days later and confirmed as having Ebola Thursday.

It's still unclear how the boy became infected, says WHO's special representative on Ebola, Bruce Aylward.

Lafayette Square across from the White House is a popular spot for people with a political bone to pick. Next to the persistent "ban nuclear weapons" sign, protesters come here to picket in front of the president's home. On Wednesday, there's a group of women gathered behind a banner scrawled with messages, among them: "Remembering those who lost their lives to the war on drugs." "Keeping faith, hope, and love in our hearts."

Colistin is the antibiotic that doctors use as a last resort to wipe out dangerous bacteria.

"It's really been kept as the last drug in the locker when all else has failed," says Dr. Jim Spencer, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Like Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is a time for coming together with loved ones – only the focus is on friends.

The Friendsgiving dinner – usually a potluck affair with plenty of booze — has taken off in recent years, especially among millennials. (Thank the gang from television's Friends for helping to popularize the concept.)