Health Desk

Shots - Health News
10:31 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Feds Claim Obamacare Launch Is Hindering Government Transparency

Unfilled requests for public records are piling up as the government claims it is being overwhelmed by Obamacare.
Bjorn Rune Lie Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 3:53 pm

A heavy workload caused by the Affordable Care Act, government technology limits and staff shortages are causing unusually long delays in filling public records requests, federal health officials say.

The waits in some cases could stretch out a decade or more.

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to respond to records requests in 20 working days, though providing documents often takes much longer. The FBI, for instance, recently reported that complex requests could average more than two years to fill.

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Shots - Health News
10:22 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Quality-Testing Legal Marijuana: Strong But Not Always Clean

Andrey Saprykin iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 3:52 pm

Recreational marijuana has been legalized in four states, but that doesn't mean it's a tested consumer product. Some of those potent buds are covered in fungus while others contain traces of butane, according to an analysis of marijuana in Colorado.

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Shots - Health News
10:01 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Even In Nursing, Men Earn More Than Women

If he's a nurse anesthetist, he could be making $17,290 a year more than his female counterparts.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 3:52 pm

Women outnumber men in the nursing profession by more than 10 to 1. But men still earn more, a new study finds.

Even after controlling for age, race, marital status and children in the home, males in nursing outearned females by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals.

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Goats and Soda
9:41 am
Tue March 24, 2015

TB Patients That The World Writes Off Are Getting Cured In Peru

Maria Carmen Castro, 46, of Lima, Peru, is a survivor of MDR-TB — multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Partners In Health treated her and loaned her money to open a small store. "Because of my TB and thanks to God and Partners In Health, now I have my own business," she says.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 8:23 am

You sure don't want to get tuberculosis. You'll cough a lot, maybe cough up blood, have fever, chills and chest pain. But most cases of the bacterial disease are curable after taking the two first-line drugs for four to six months.

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Shots - Health News
2:44 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Many Doctors Who Diagnose Alzheimer's Fail To Tell The Patient

When combined with results of other neurological tests, and in the context of a thorough medical history, atrophy of the brain (shown here in an MRI scan) sometimes indicates Alzheimer's.
Simon Fraser Science Source

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 12:01 pm

Doctors are much more likely to level with patients who have cancer than patients who have Alzheimer's, according to a report released this week by the Alzheimer's Association.

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Shots - Health News
2:38 am
Tue March 24, 2015

How 2 Children With Leukemia Helped Transform Its Treatment

Both James Eversull (left) and Pat Patchell were treated with experimental chemotherapy and radiation for leukemia as children in the 1960s. Together, they're now some of the country's oldest leukemia survivors..
Courtesy of James Eversull; Courtesy of Pat Patchell

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 8:50 am

When children are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia now, they have more than a 90 percent chance of survival.

But when James Eversull was told he had leukemia in 1964, there wasn't much hope.

He was just 18 months old when his parents discovered what was wrong.

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Shots - Health News
5:58 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

States That Expand Medicaid Detect More Cases Of Diabetes

Johnny Reynolds ignored diabetes symptoms and put off going to the doctor for years when he didn't have health insurance. He was afraid he couldn't afford treatment.
Anders Kelto/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:18 pm

Johnny Reynolds knew that something was wrong as far back as 2003. That's when he first started experiencing extreme fatigue.

"It was like waking up every morning and just putting a person over my shoulders and walking around with them all day long," says Reynolds, 54, who lived in Ohio at the time.

In addition, Reynolds was constantly thirsty and drank so much water that he would urinate 20 or 30 times per day. "And overnight I would probably get up at least eight or nine times a night," he says.

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Goats and Soda
5:52 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

You're Just A Blob In Layers Of Plastic

It's not the real deal. This Ebola Treatment Unit was set up for a TED talk in Vancouver so people could get a sense of what the units are like, and what it's like to put on the protective suit.
Nina Gregory

At his TED Talk in Vancouver last week, Bill Gates posed the idea that, "If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes." He noted how the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which has taken about 10,000 lives, revealed serious problems in our global health care system. It's not that the systems didn't work well enough, he said. "We didn't have a system at all." He called the response "a global failure."

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Why The War On Cancer Hasn't Been Won

Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 11:26 am

When President Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer in 1971, there were high hopes that scientists were close enough to understanding the underlying causes that many cures were within reach.

We obviously haven't won the war.

In fact, a prominent cancer biologist argues that the conceptual framework for understanding cancer has come full circle over the past 40 years.

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Shots - Health News
2:53 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Stats Split On Progress Against Cancer

Find other stories in the Living Cancer series at WNYC.org.
WNYC

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 7:33 am

When someone asks whether we're winning the war on cancer, the discussion often veers into the world of numbers. And, depending on which numbers you're looking at, the answer can either be yes or no.

Let's start with the no.

The number of cancer deaths in this country is on the rise. It climbed 4 percent between 2000 and 2011, the latest year in official statistics. More than 577,000 people died of cancer in 2011. That's almost a quarter of all deaths. Those aren't just personal tragedies – the figure represents a growing burden on America.

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Shots - Health News
12:18 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

If You're Going To Die Soon, Do You Really Need Statins?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 3:30 pm

It's easy to get put on statins, and it can be surprisingly hard to get off them. That's true even for people who are terminally ill and might have bigger concerns than reducing their cardiovascular risk.

People approaching the end of life who did stop statins were not more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who kept taking the drugs, according to researchers who tested the idea.

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Goats and Soda
2:38 am
Mon March 23, 2015

As Ebola Crisis Ebbs, Aid Agencies Turn To Building Up Health Systems

Light shines through the chlorine-stained windows in the blood-testing area at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, Monrovia, Liberia.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 5:16 pm

Michelle Niescierenko is a pediatric emergency physician at Boston Children's Hospital. But for the past five months she has been in Liberia, helping the country's 21 public hospitals get back on their feet after the devastating Ebola outbreak there. She says the challenges they face are shocking.

"Almost all the hospitals that we worked with in Liberia are running on generators," she says. The trouble with generators is that they require fuel.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Rethinking Alcohol: Can Heavy Drinkers Learn To Cut Back?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 7:34 am

The thinking about alcohol dependence used to be black and white. There was a belief that there were two kinds of drinkers: alcoholics and everyone else.

"But that dichotomy — yes or no, you have it or you don't — is inadequate," says Dr. John Mariani, who researches substance abuse at Columbia University. He says that the thinking has evolved, and that the field of psychiatry recognizes there's a spectrum.

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Health Desk
3:54 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

Concerns Rise Over Children Accessing Detergent Pods

Credit US CPSC

U-S Senator Dick Durbin says a common household item has become too tempting for some kids and it's making them sick.

Durbin said last year he learned about the alarming number of children eating the little pods that some laundry detergent manufacturers produce.  Poison control centers had over 17-thousand reports last year. 

Durbin is pushing for a law to require changes, like redesigning the packets...

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Medical Treatments
7:01 am
Sun March 22, 2015

90 Years After Its Discovery, No Generic Insulin Sold In The U.S.

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 8:19 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Medical Treatments
7:01 am
Sun March 22, 2015

Patients Freeze Scalps To Save Hair During Chemo

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 8:19 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun March 22, 2015

'How Unromantic It Is To Die Of Tuberculosis In The 21st Century'

Polina, 37, rests in a hospital bed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2011. She is severely malnourished and suffers from numerous diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis C and HIV.
Misha Friedman

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 1:40 pm

As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa slows and falls from the headlines, there is a temptation among many to view this outbreak as an isolated event. In fact, the opposite is true. Ebola is the tip of a global health crisis: a crisis in our collective ability to deliver the essentials of modern medicine to those who need help the most, in the most timely and efficient manner.

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Global Health
5:27 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

Communicating The Right Message About Ebola

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 6:41 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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Your Health
6:11 am
Sat March 21, 2015

How The First Bite Of Food Sets The Body's Clock

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 9:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
4:29 am
Sat March 21, 2015

A Year Of Ebola: Memorable Moments From Our Reporters' Notebooks

Twins Watta and Fatta Balyon pose outside the home of their guardian Mamuedeh Kanneh in Barkedu, a village in Liberia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 1:43 pm

It started in December 2013. A 2-year-old boy in Guinea was running a fever. He was vomiting. There was blood in his stool.

He was most likely "patient zero" — the first case in the Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

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Shots - Health News
4:12 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

Microbiologist Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley. She's co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology — a tool that's recently made the snipping and splicing of genes much easier.
Cailey Cotner UC Berkeley

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:58 pm

A new technology called CRISPR could allow scientists to alter the human genetic code for generations. That's causing some leading biologists and bioethicists to sound an alarm.

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Goats and Soda
2:57 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

For The Love Of Pork: Antibiotic Use On Farms Skyrockets Worldwide

Regions that produce the most pork and chicken also use the most antibiotics on farms. Hot spots around the world include the Midwest in the U.S., southern Brazil, and China's Sichuan province. Yellow indicates low levels of drug use in livestock; orange and light red are moderate levels; and dark red is high levels.
PNAS

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 1:21 am

Sorry bacon lovers, we've got some sad news about your favorite meat.

To get those sizzling strips of pork on your plate each morning takes more antibiotics than it does to make a steak burrito or a chicken sausage sandwich.

Pig farmers around the world, on average, use nearly four times as much antibiotics as cattle ranchers do, per pound of meat. Poultry farmers fall somewhere between the two.

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The Salt
2:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Why Los Angeles' Fast Food Ban Did Nothing To Check Obesity

An economist with the Rand Corporation argues that Los Angeles' fast-food ban failed because it merely blocked new construction or expansion of "stand-alone fast-food" restaurants in neighborhoods where that style of restaurant was uncommon to begin with.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:34 pm

There's a researcher at the RAND Corporation who has been building a reputation as a curmudgeonly skeptic when it comes to trendy ways to fight America's obesity epidemic.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Wireless Sensors Help Scientists Map Staph Spread Inside Hospital

Grey lines connecting health care workers (marked with "+") and patients represent contacts between them. The red figures are carriers of MRSA.
Obadia et al. PLOS Computational Biology

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 4:34 pm

Whatever lands you in the hospital or nursing home also puts you at risk for acquiring an infection, possibly one that's resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Staph infections are common problems in health care facilities, and many Staphylcoccus aureus bacteria are now resistant to drug treatment.

Chances are you've heard of MRSA, which is the kind of staph that isn't susceptible to methicillin, the antibiotic that used to be a silver bullet.

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Shots - Health News
8:09 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Despite A Wave Of Data Breaches, Fed Says Patient Privacy Isn't Dead

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:08 am

It's hard to keep track of even the biggest health data breaches, given how frequently they seem to be happening.

Just Tuesday, health insurer Premera Blue Cross disclosed that hackers broke into its system and may have accessed the financial and medical records of some 11 million people. Premera's announcement comes weeks after another health insurer, Anthem Inc., announced that it too had been hacked—and that the records of nearly 80 million people were exposed.

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Around the Nation
4:05 am
Fri March 20, 2015

From Skid Row To Rome: The Story Of An Unusual Running Club

Skid row is home to hundreds of homeless people who pitch tents at night for shelter. But it is also home to a Midnight Mission running club, helping residents with homelessness and addiction.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 5:29 pm

Craig Mitchell is a judge in Los Angeles' criminal court, but he has an unusual sideline gig. He's one of the last people anyone would expect to find hanging out in Skid Row, known as a hub for LA's homeless community. But about four years ago, a man he once sent to state prison called him up and asked him to come down.

It's not a quiet place, even at six in the morning. People shuffle in and out of makeshift tents that line the sidewalks. A few yards away, about a half dozen men pass by doing something that would look perfectly normal almost anywhere else in LA: jogging.

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The Salt
5:24 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Watch Your Back, Kale. Kelp Is Gunning For The Veggie Du Jour Title

Alaria, a type of seaweed also known as "Wild Atlantic Wakame," grows in the North Atlantic Ocean and is similar to Japanese wakame, a common ingredient in miso soup.
Courtesy of Sarah Redmond

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 1:47 pm

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

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Shots - Health News
2:29 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

'Looks Like Laury' Shines The Power Of Friendship On A Failing Mind

Laury Sacks and her husband, Eric. The actress and writer developed frontotemporal dementia in her late 40s and died in 2008 at age 52.
Courtesy of Eric Sacks

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:09 am

More than 5 million Americans have dementia, and that number is only climbing. Each case leaves some people wondering what's left in a friendship when the bond between confidants becomes literally unthinkable, when language and thinking fail. But a good friend can sometimes help in ways that a spouse, a child or a paid professional can't.

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Shots - Health News
11:40 am
Thu March 19, 2015

For A Good Snooze, Take One Melatonin, Add Eye Mask And Earplugs

It's hard to sleep when the light's on and the monitor's beeping.
Roderick Chen Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 2:16 pm

Hospitals are one of the worst places to try to get a good night's sleep, just when you need it the most. And though many have tried to muffle the noise of beeping monitors and clattering carts, the noise remains a big problem for many patients.

But what if we looked at a night in the hospital as a long overseas flight? As you settle in, they hand out eye masks and earplugs. And you cleverly brought along melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone sold at drugstores everywhere.

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Goats and Soda
11:35 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Botched Ritual Circumcision Leads To World's First Penile Transplant

These teens from the Xhosa tribe wear traditional garb and paint after their coming-of-age circumcision ceremony near Qunu, South Africa.
CARL DE SOUZA AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 4:02 pm

It began with a ritual circumcision for a teenager in South Africa, from the Xhosa tribe. And it ended with the world's first penile transplant, completed in December and disclosed last week.

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