Health Desk

About 30,000 cases of Sabra hummus sold nationwide is being recalled due to a possible Listeria contamination.
 
 Listeria is a food-borne illness that can cause high fevers and nausea in minor cases, but the infections can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems and young children, along with causing miscarriages in pregnant women.
 
     The Sabra Dipping Co. is a joint venture of PepsiCo and Strauss Group.
 
     The recalled products include:
 
     Sabra Classic Hummus in 10-ounce sizes with UPC/SKU 040822011143 / 300067
 

Would you be willing to hand over your health information to a life insurance company, in exchange for financial rewards?

Activity trackers have become increasingly popular over the past few years, tracking everything from how many steps you walk to your location throughout the day.

A California bill that would allow students to opt out of mandatory school vaccinations only if they have a medical condition that justifies an exemption is one step closer to becoming law, though it still has a long way to go. The bill was introduced in the California Senate in response to a measles outbreak at Disneyland in late December that's now linked to almost 150 infections.

It seems like every firefighter you ask can rattle off examples of 911 calls that didn't come even close to being life-threatening.

"A spider bite that's two or three weeks old," says Jeff Jacobs. "A headache, or a laceration," says Ashley Histand.

Alberto Vela remembers another call from a woman who said, "This medicine's not working; now you need to take me to the hospital so I can get a different medication."

Tyler Hooper describes those calls they shouldn't be getting as "anything from simple colds to toothaches, stubbed toes to paper cuts."

In the village of Tuffet, a rocky 45-minute drive from the closest city along Haiti's southern coast, several men get down to work in Monique Yusizanna Ouz's rural home. They're wiring up her two-room, dirt floor house with a breaker box, an outlet and a light fixture.

She's 66 years old, and for the first time in her life, she's going to have electricity.

Ouz, who has five grandchildren, wants a refrigerator. She wants cold drinks — for herself but also to sell. And she wants ice cream, too.

Shorter people are more likely than taller folks to have clogged heart arteries, and a new study says part of the reason lies in the genes.

Doctors have known since the 1950s about the link between short stature and coronary artery disease, "but the reason behind this really hasn't been completely clear," says Nilesh Samani, a cardiologist at the University of Leicester in the U.K.

Researchers have discovered the exact structure of the receptor that makes our sensory nerves tingle when we eat sushi garnished with wasabi. And because the "wasabi receptor" is also involved in pain perception, knowing its shape should help pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs to fight pain.

John Hancock announced a new program promising discounts for policyholders who wear a fitness tracker, exercise more and go to the doctor. The life insurance company says that if people live longer healthier lives, everybody wins. But privacy advocates worry about all the electronic monitoring.

For most disabled residents of Rio de Janeiro, every day is an Olympian struggle.

Pick almost any sidewalk, says Lilia Martins, who uses an electric wheelchair. She chooses one just outside her place of work. The location is relevant because Martins is an advocate for disabled people in Rio. Even here, we only manage to go a short way before the pavement becomes cracked and broken with huge roots popping up. There is literally no way a wheelchair can go on. It's like an obstacle course.

"Except there is no prize at the end," Martins quips.

Before a couple commit time, money and emotion to the process of in vitro fertilization, they want to know one thing: What are our chances of having a baby?

Success rates vary dramatically by age. In 2013, for example, 40 percent of IVF cycles performed in women who were under the age of 35 resulted in live births, compared with 4.5 percent for women older than 42.

Would you lead a more active lifestyle if it meant lower life insurance premiums? Insurer John Hancock and Vitality, a global wellness firm, are hoping the answer is yes. But there is a condition: They get to track your activity.

The practice is already employed in Australia, Europe, Singapore and South Africa, where Vitality is based.

A promising technique for making brain tumors glow so they'll be easier for surgeons to remove is now being tested in cancer patients.

The old saying goes, "Nothing is certain except death and taxes." But the Affordable Care Act has added a new wrinkle.

For many policyholders, the ACA has introduced a good deal of uncertainty about their tax bills. That has led to surprise refunds for some and higher-than-expected tax payments for others.

At an Institute for Family Health center near Union Square in New York City, medical student Sara Stream asks a new patient named Alicia what brings her in. The 34-year-old woman arrived last summer from Guatemala, and says she hasn't been seen by a doctor in many years.

Her list of ailments is long.

"I have trouble seeing, headaches, problems with my stomach," says Alicia, who declined to use her full name, because she is in the country illegally. "I feel depressed."

You've probably heard of programs meant to grant wishes to chronically ill children - but now some adults in Springfield who are nearing the end of their lives are getting similar treatment. Through Memorial Medical Center's "Sharing Wishes Fund", those in hospice care are eligible for getting a wish granted - something to check off their bucket list. It could be a hot air balloon ride, or something as simple as a pizza dinner with family and friends.

When the earnings of low-income consumers change over the course of the year, a family can risk losing its health coverage if it shifts between eligibility for Medicaid and eligibility for coverage on the health insurance exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Selling breast milk is big business.

Each year tens of thousands of women post ads on websites, offering their extra milk for $1 to $3 an ounce: "My rich milk makes giants!" promises one seller. "Organic and Gluten Free Breastmilk," claims another. Then there's this one: "470 oz. of breastmilk must go!!!"

But some women online aren't delivering what they're advertising.

Scientists at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, analyzed 102 samples ordered from popular websites and found about 10 percent of them were "topped off" with cow's milk.

When Kevin Lopez opens the door to his Greenbelt, Md., apartment to greet a visitor he's never before met, he initially conceals his right hand.

"I'm self-conscious, definitely, about my right hand," he says. But eventually Lopez relaxes.

"I was born like this," he says. "As you can see, I don't have any fingers." It bothers the 20-year-old enough that he has volunteered to do something drastic: to have his right hand removed and replaced with another person's hand via surgery.

Last week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban caused quite a stir on Twitter by suggesting that people, if they could afford it, get quarterly bloodwork to establish a baseline of their own health. A big failing of medicine, he wrote, is that "we wait till we are sick to have our blood tested and compare the results to 'comparable demographics.' "

Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the medical marijuana program, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

The Associated Press obtained the petitions through a Freedom of Information Act request. Names of petitioners were blacked out to protect patients' privacy. Individuals identifying themselves as veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, adding emotional pleas for help.  

Maybe You Should Skip That Annual Physical

Apr 6, 2015

It's a warm afternoon in Miami, and 35-year-old Emanuel Vega has come to Baptist Health Primary Care for a physical exam. Dr. Mark Caruso shakes his hand with a welcoming smile.

Christina Costanzo was 32 when she had her first heart attack. It all started on a Friday.

"I had chest pain. I had pain in my jaw, pain going down my left arm. I had some shortness of breath," Costanzo recalls.

But Costanzo who is a nurse practitioner in New Haven, Conn., didn't realize right away that these were symptoms of a heart attack. She figured this was just her body reacting to stress, and she didn't want to overreact.

Michael was born biologically male 13 years ago on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation.

Mom, Dee, remembers buying dresses for three nieces when Michael — who now goes by Michaela — was about 6 years old.

Rob Marsh has a medical practice in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. He likes the freedom to open his office at night if a patient gets sick.

Marsh wants to make house calls, and he needs to pay a staff that has grown from 2 to 23. But many people in this area lack insurance.

"You've got to make budget to make payroll," he says.

The financial pressures of practicing medicine in the 21st century have led more doctors to take jobs with large hospitals and medical practices. Last year, only 17 percent of doctors were in solo practice.

Ah, 2007: the year in which we met the first-ever iPhone, a presidential candidate called Barack Obama ... and an inscrutable ad man named Don Draper.

By law, many U.S. insurance providers that offer mental health care are required to cover it just as they would cancer or diabetes care. But advocates say achieving this mental health parity can be a challenge.

Improving Mental Health Via Social Network

Apr 4, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

About 10 years ago, Dr. Swaminatha Mahadevan was conducting research at a Nepalese hospital, when he witnessed something that would never have happened back home in California.

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