Health Desk

I've been itching to get a standing desk. After all, America's sitting itself into an early grave. Sitting is the new smoking. Clearly, a standing desk would stop me from sitting, and standing is just so much better for you than sitting, right?

Contrary to popular belief, science does not say so.

"Let me be blunt," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in his opening statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "This was a failure of government at all levels. Local, state and federal officials — we all failed the families of Flint."

How Did St. Patrick Get To Be The Patron Saint Of Nigeria?

Mar 17, 2016

As Americans prepare to observe St. Patrick's Day with pub crawls, parades, corned beef, and green clothing, beer and bagels, let's not forget about that country for which Patrick is a patron saint.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

At 85 years old, Alpha Edwards did not expect to be out of savings or to have $3,000 of credit card debt.

"I don't do anything that costs money," Edwards says. "I can't."

The problem started four years ago, when Edwards moved to Miami Springs, Fla., with her little brown dog. Her husband had recently died, and Edwards wanted to be closer to her daughter.

Edwards regularly sees doctors for her chronic lung disease and her pacemaker. And not long after she moved, she needed a cardiac procedure.

Doctors have long disputed the accusation that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs.

There's been little evidence to settle the matter, until now.

A ProPublica analysis has found that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed prescribe drugs differently on average than their colleagues who don't. And the more money they receive, the more brand-name medications they tend to prescribe.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Psychologists disagree on whether expecting your marriage to be a deeply fulfilling relationship makes it more likely that the union will thrive, or that it will doom you to disappointment.

So, psychologists, should we just go ahead and expect the worst after the honeymoon?

The shutdown of Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail system for an entire day — 29 hours to be exact — for a safety inspection prompted a New York Times interviewee to say: "It's the capital of the United States and one of the biggest business centers in the country. This is like a developing country."

How Do You Start Mapping Unmapped Streets?

Mar 16, 2016

Google Street View allows people to virtually walk through places from the Aeon Mall in Okinawa, Japan, to historic sites like Petra in Jordan without leaving their homes.

But type in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and you won't see anything. That's because the city is basically off the Google grid, as are many locations in developing countries.

A joint effort between the World Bank's Dar Ramani Huria and Swedish startup Mapillary aims to change that.

Aetna and Cigna inked deals last month with drug maker Novartis that offer the insurers rebates tied to how well a pricey new heart failure drug works to cut hospitalizations and deaths. If the $4,500-a-year drug meets targets, the rebate goes down. Doesn't work so well? The insurers get a bigger payment.

In another approach, pharmacy benefit firm Express Scripts this year began paying drug makers a special negotiated rate for some cancer drugs. The goal is to reward the use of medicines that are most effective for certain cancers.

At Southwest Baltimore Charter School, preparing lunch takes a few extra steps.

"We don't use the water from the building for cooking, not at all," say cafeteria worker LaShawn Thompson, shaking her head.

Her colleague, Christine Fraction, points to a large water bottle sitting on the counter of a stainless steel sink.

"We having greens or something like that, we having vegetables, we'll just turn it over into the pan and then put it on the stove," she says.

Humans like to place things in categories and can struggle when things can't easily be categorized. That also applies to people, a study finds, and the brain's visual biases may play a role in perceptions of mixed-race people.

In response to the opioid epidemic that has swept the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released long-anticipated guidelines on prescribing opioid painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet.

They were published Tuesday in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Editor's note: Since we first published this post, the young woman who told her story has asked that her full name not be reported. It is NPR policy not to report the full names of rape survivors without their consent. We have edited this post to refer to her as Grace, her middle name. Grace has also clarified some key details. She says she misspoke when she said the rape occurred when she was 16. She says she was 13 years old then, and was 16 when she became pregnant after engaging in consensual sex.

Nicola Lindson-Hawley remembers how hard it was for her mom to stop smoking.

"One of the reasons I find this topic very interesting and why I went into it was because my mom was a smoker when I was younger," says Lindson-Hawley, who studies tobacco and health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Science and health care journalism lost Peggy Girshman on Monday, one of the profession's fiercest advocates and gentlest souls. She was 61.

Girshman was a leader at many news and professional organizations, including NPR, NBC News, the National Association of Science Writers and Kaiser Health News, which she co-founded.

Over the years, she won four local Emmys and a national one, along with other major awards given out for the best work in our field. The awards were well-deserved and came as no surprise to those of us who knew her. She was one of the absolute best.

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren't always keeping their hands so clean and probably should: patients.

A discussion on Capitol Hill about concussion research brought a startling moment Monday, as an NFL executive acknowledged for the first time that football has been linked to a degenerative brain disease.

Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety, admitted the connection when he was asked about research by Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has reported finding signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of 90 out of 94 former pro football players — and 45 out of 55 former college players.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This week, I answered questions from readers about Medicare coverage and the rules for repaying premium tax credits for marketplace coverage after a divorce.

I have insurance through my federal employee retirement plan. Why should I pay an additional monthly premium for Medicare Part B?

Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. rose 5.2 percent in 2015, driven mostly by increased costs of expensive specialty medications to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to data from the largest manager of employers' drug benefits.

Spending on specialty medications rose 18 percent, while spending on standard prescription drugs rose less than one percent, according to a new report by Express Scripts. The report is based on the prescription drug spending for the company's 80 million covered patients.

There's something different about the way these babies cry.

That's a realization that hit me after spending day after day with babies in Brazil who were born to mothers who were infected with the Zika virus when they were pregnant.

It's not just that they cry more easily, and longer — which they do. There's also something strange — harsher and more pained — about the cries of many of these babies.

Today is Pi Day, a time to celebrate the never-ending number that helps us calculate the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

When you really need help, Siri might not always be there for you. And if you told the Google App or S Voice from Samsung that you were just sexually assaulted or beaten by your partner, they don't have much to offer, a study finds.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: And I'm Patti Neighmond in Los Angeles. One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is brush your teeth well and floss every day. But choosing a toothpaste can be overwhelming.

LARRY KOZEK: Toothpaste, look at that.

If the high-pitched whir of a dentist's drill as it bores into your molar terrifies you, good news! There could be fewer fillings in your future. A painless way to prevent cavities in adults is gaining traction.

Pages