Health Desk

Men who work out may be using legal over-the-counter supplements to the point that it's harming their emotional or physiological health, according to a recent study.

Some days, the french fries are just irresistible. You know it's not the best thing to put in your body, but did that salad really stand a chance after the smell of fried garlic, Parmesan and thyme on crisp potato wedges wafted over to you?

Until recently, nurses at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Hospital had to maneuver through a maze of wheelchairs, beds, boxes and lights to find surgical supplies in the equipment closet for the operating rooms.

But as public hospitals like Harbor-UCLA try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota.

It goes by many names: Delhi belly. Montezuma's revenge. The Aztec two-step. But doctors use one not-so-glamorous term: traveler's diarrhea.

If you're visiting a place this summer with less than ideal sewage disposal — maybe a resort in Mexico or a village in Rajasthan — chances are your GI tract will give you trouble at least once ... maybe twice ... maybe continuously.

Physician and epidemiologist Gary Slutkin has worked in more than 20 countries, fighting infectious diseases like cholera, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. After a decade abroad, he returned to the United States in 1994 and found an acute problem here: gun violence. He began to study the issue and saw familiar patterns: "I just said, 'This is behaving exactly like an infectious disease.' This is the same kind of map, same kind of clustering. Someone has picked this up from someone else, and they pass it on to someone else, and pass it on to someone else."

Neighborhoods in Baltimore are still struggling to recover from the riots that broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury to his spine while in police custody. In the aftermath of the unrest, we here at NPR spent many hours trying to understand the raw anger on display. We looked at police brutality, economic disparities and housing segregation in Baltimore.

Our conversations eventually led us to Leana Wen.

Here's a number to help frame the debate over whether middle schools and high schools should start later in the morning: A study finds that only 18 percent of these public schools start class at 8:30 a.m. or later, as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.

Brenda Hummel's 7-year-old daughter Andrea was born with severe epilepsy. Like many children with significant diseases or disabilities, she has health insurance through Medicaid. Hummel navigated Iowa's Medicaid resources for years to find just the right doctors and care for her daughter. But now Iowa's governor, Republican Terry Branstad, is moving full speed ahead with a plan to put private companies in charge of managing Medicaid's services, and that has Hummel worried.

Dental patients really don't like Western Dental. Not its Anaheim, Calif., clinic: "I hate this place!!!" one reviewer wrote on the rating site Yelp. Or one of its locations in Phoenix: "Learn from my terrible experience and stay far, far away."

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Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, and it's expanding, if you look at waistlines. Almost half the country is now considered overweight. Compare that to 30 years ago when the rate was half that.

It's a common problem in the developing world, where rising prosperity often means greater access to processed food.

One woman in Brazil is trying to change the direction the country is going. But it hasn't been easy.

Bela Gil is the daughter of one of Brazil's most famous singers, Gilberto Gil. She's quick to say she has zero musical talent.

Hannah Roberts was a first-year-medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians in 2013 when she noticed her classmates were having an especially tough time relating to dementia patients.

"There's a misconception that dementia patients are like toddlers in a way," Roberts says. Many medical students, she says, "are intimidated at the challenge of having to get accurate histories and establish a connection with someone who has a limited ability to communicate."

At the New Jalisco Bar in downtown Los Angeles, a drag show featuring dancers dressed in sequined leotards and feathered headdresses draws a crowd on a Friday night, most of them gay Latino men.

Inside the bar and out, three health workers chat with customers, casually asking questions: Do you know about the HIV prevention pill? Would you consider taking it? A few men say they have never heard of it. Others simply say it isn't for them.

Untangling The Many Deductibles Of Health Insurance

Aug 5, 2015

Sure, there's a deductible with your health insurance. But then what's the hospital deductible? Your insurer may have multiple deductibles, and it pays to know which apply when. These questions and answers tackle deductibles, whether an ex-spouse has to pay for an adult child's insurance, and balance billing.

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Heated tools like flat irons can make hair waterfall straight. But there's always that worry of burning the hair, or yourself.

That can make hair-straightening a miserable process, as Marita Golden wrote in her essay "My Black Hair":

He was probably about 40 years old, 155 pounds, white and wearing a suit. And he's the reason why women are shivering at their desks in air-conditioned buildings.

At some point in the 1930s, someone defined "metabolic equivalents" — how much energy a body requires while sitting, walking and running. Almost a century later, the back-of-the-envelope calculations are considered a standard for many things, including air conditioning.

In a first, the Food and Drug Administration has given approval to a drug that is produced on a 3-D printer. The pill, produced by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, treats seizures. It's expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2016.

NPR's Rob Stein reports for our Newscast unit:

"The drug is called Spritam and is designed to treat seizures in people suffering from epilepsy. It's a new version of a seizure medication that's been on the market for years.

Walk along one of the many streams and rivers in the West Nile region of Uganda, and you'll notice something funny. All along the riverbanks, you'll see small pieces of blue cloth, attached to wooden stakes in the ground. There's one every 50 yards or so.

No, this isn't some half-baked public art project. These dinky contraptions are actually flytraps, designed to lure and kill tsetse flies, whose bites transmit a parasitic disease called sleeping sickness, which, like rabies, drives victims mad before it kills them.

The uproar over sting videos alleging Planned Parenthood illegally profits from selling aborted fetal tissue has only just begun on Capitol Hill.

You're probably at least a little bit racist and sexist and homophobic. Most of us are.

On the ninth floor of a glassy high rise in downtown Washington, partitions are coming down to make more room for workers handing out billions of dollars in Obamacare-funded research awards.

Business has been brisk at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute or, PCORI, as it is known. The institute was created by Congress under the Affordable Care Act to figure out which medical treatments work best —measures largely AWOL from the nation's health care delivery system.

One of the frequent trials of parenthood is dealing with a picky eater. About 20 percent of children ages 2 to 6 have such a narrow idea of what they want to eat that it can make mealtime a battleground.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics shows that, in extreme cases, picky eating can be associated with deeper trouble, such as depression or social anxiety.

Kim Pil-Gi left his construction job in Seoul, South Korea, three months ago. Now he happily spends his days handling grubs: squirming, writhing, beetle larvae, each one about as thick as a grown man's thumb. He sits at a tray, sorting them by size.

"At the construction company a lot of the time I'd wake up at 6 in the morning and work all night through to the next day," he says. "That was really hard for me."

Researchers are increasingly turning to nature for inspiration for new drugs. One example is Prialt. It's an incredibly powerful painkiller that people sometimes use when morphine no longer works. Prialt is based on a component in the venom of a marine snail.

Wheelchair Beauty Queen Sings For Toilets

Aug 3, 2015

Grace Alache Jerry is everything you'd imagine a pageant winner should be — beautiful, smart, articulate. She's a gifted musician, holds a diploma in law and even campaigns for the less fortunate.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its alleged handling of fetal tissue for research are louder than ever. But they are just the latest in a decades-long drive to halt federal support for the group.

This round aims squarely at the collection of fetal tissue, an issue that had been mostly settled — with broad bipartisan support — in the early 1990s. Among those who voted then to allow federal funding for fetal tissue research was now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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In 1953, Dr. John Clements realized something fundamental about the way the lung functions — an insight that would ultimately save the lives of millions of premature babies.

The story begins in 1950, when the U.S. Army sent Clements, a newly graduated physician, to the medical division of what was then called the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Md. Clements was interested in doing research in biochemistry. His commanding officer was of a different mind.