Health Desk

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Michael Solomonov has built a reputation for his unique take on the cuisine of Israel. He's won a James Beard Award for Best Chef for his restaurants in Philadelphia.

But he says awards aren't what inspire him to keep cooking.

"It's the pots of rice," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "It's the savory pastries that my grandmother made that if I can close my eyes right now I can still taste."

When my husband has a particularly tough workout (or workday), he comes home and says, "I have to roll."

He's talking about using a foam roller on body parts including the hips, quads and calves, using his own body weight to supply the force. You've probably seen people rolling in your gym; some facilities even offer classes. The rollers are available in various sizes and can cost as little as $10 — more for fancier ones with grooves intended for more targeted pressure.

But do rollers actually work?

The thought of paying for her daughters' weddings has haunted Kamala Rani for years. When it came time for her older daughter to get married two years ago, she was up against the biggest cost of her life: $320.

This might seem like peanuts to an American audience used to hearing about weddings costing tens of thousands. But consider this: Rani and her family in Bangladesh each live on the equivalent of about $1.50 a day, treading a very thin line between deep and extreme poverty.

You've heard it a million times: The hours we spend sitting in front of our computers, sitting in front of the TV and sitting just about everywhere else are adding up. We are sitting ourselves to death.

So it came as welcome news when we read last week that just 10 minutes — 10 minutes! — of walking after sitting for a long period of time can restore the damage to our vascular system.

Senior citizens are switching from privately run insurance plans to traditional Medicare when they face serious, long-term health conditions, a study shows.

Researchers at Brown University found that 17 percent of Medicare Advantage patients who entered nursing homes for long-term care chose to switch to traditional Medicare the following year. Only 3 percent of similar patients in Medicare made the decision to go to a private Medicare Advantage plan.

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With the stroke of a pen, California Gov. Jerry Brown made it legal for physicians in the state to prescribe lethal doses of medications if their terminally ill patients wish to end their lives.

Brown signed the "End of Life Act" into law on Monday, and in doing so California joins four other states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana — where patients' right to choose doctor-assisted death is protected either by law or court order.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation Monday, allowing terminally ill patients to obtain lethal medication to end their lives when and where they choose.

In a deeply personal note, Brown said he read opposition materials carefully, but in the end was left to reflect on what he would want in the face of his own death.

The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to three scientists for their work on parasitic diseases.

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura were recognized for discovering a compound that effectively kills roundworm parasites. A Chinese scientist, Dr. Youyou Tu, won for her work in isolating a powerful drug in the 1970s to fight malaria.

In many countries, the decisions teens make at 15 can determine the rest of their lives. But, often, girls don't have much say — parents, culture and tradition decide for them. In a new series, #15Girls, NPR explores the lives of 15-year-old girls who are seeking to take control and change their fate. Warning: Some of the depictions and images in this story are graphic.

There's good news from the front lines in the fight against bullying: anti-bullying laws can help reduce aggression, both online and in real life.

Bullying affects one out of every five U.S. high school students. But anti-bullying laws do make a difference, researchers reported Monday in JAMA Pediatrics – especially when those laws comply with guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education.

In ancient China, black rice was considered so superior and rare, it was reserved exclusively for the emperor and royalty. These days the grain, also known as forbidden rice, has become the darling of gourmets and people seeking superior nutrition.

As health insurance open season heats up for businesses, many employees will discover that participating in their company's wellness program includes rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.

Across the country, half of large employers offering health benefits have wellness programs that ask workers to submit to medical tests, often dubbed "biometrics," that can involve a trip to a doctor's office, lab or workplace health fair.

The medicines they helped develop are credited with improving the lives of millions. And now three researchers working in the U.S., Japan and China have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Among the winners: William C. Campbell of Drew University in Madison, N.J., for his work on the roundworm parasite.

Women concerned about their fertility can use a test to help decide whether they should freeze their eggs now or whether they still have time to have a baby.

If your company hasn't launched a wellness program, this might be the year.

As benefits enrollment for 2016 approaches, more employers than ever are expected to nudge workers toward plans that screen them for risks, monitor their activity and encourage them to take the right pills, food and exercise.

For more than 10 years, disease had slowly eaten away at He Quangui's lungs, leaving him, for the most part, bedridden.

But He was no smoker — he was a Chinese gold miner. He was stricken with silicosis, a respiratory illness caused by inhaling silica dust. An estimated 6 million Chinese miners suffer from the debilitating disease pneumoconiosis — of which silicosis is one form.

In this installment of NPR's series Inside Alzheimer's, we're sharing a recent video of Greg O'Brien at home on Cape Cod, Mass. A longtime journalist, O'Brien was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in 2009.

The first time I interviewed Greg O'Brien, back in January, I asked him what he was most afraid of.

It took more than two hours for the team of health workers to reach Antonio, a 6-month-old suffering from severe malnutrition in rural Guatemala.

The journey started on a Friday morning in May in the mountain town of Tecpán, with a harrowing hour-long drive over the hairpin turns of the Pan-American Highway. Then came a rough stretch of unpaved road to the tourist hub of Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

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The New York City Health Department is at it again, this time with ads in the subway and on bus shelters chatting up the glories of IUDs.

"You spent the night in Brooklyn," one brightly colored poster reads. "But you left your birth control in Staten Island. Maybe the IUD is right for you."

Mothers have been warned for years that sleeping with their newborn infant is a bad idea because it increases the risk the baby might die unexpectedly during the night. But now Israeli researchers are reporting that even sleeping in the same room can have negative consequences: not for the child, but for the mother.

An Unguarded Malala Is The Perfect Talk Show Guest

Oct 2, 2015

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for girls' education. She marked the first anniversary of the attack by releasing her memoir, I Am Malala. A year after that, she was named the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate ever. This month, the 18-year-old becomes a movie star.

What do you see in your community that helps you be heart healthy, and what gets in your way? People who live in the "stroke belt," an area in the Southeast with high rates of heart disease and stroke, can show you.

"The idea was to have community residents take photos of their individual take on the topic of barriers to heart health," says Sarah Kowitt, a study author and graduate student in public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A single number has shaped the way that Americans think about young military veterans.

It's the number 22, as in, 22 vets take their lives each day.

The number has become a rallying cry for advocates trying to call attention to suicide among vets, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twenty-two, not some vague, rounded-off number. Not 30, not 20. Twenty-two.

A number so specific it inspires action. Speeches, fundraisers, marches and even walks clear across the country.

But 22 doesn't quite add up.

"If you don't have any money, then what's the point of managing it?"

That's a question that Stuart Rutherford encounters a lot. And, he says, it's a common "trap of thinking." People who have money think that people who are extremely poor — living on less than $1.25 a day — don't have even a penny to put away for a rainy day or a daughter's wedding or a fund for a new home.

Last week, I reported a story on the U.N.'s pledge to wipe out extreme poverty by 2030, and I fell into that trap. Sure, I thought, the poor can't save money!

Laticia Aossey was flat on her back in an Iowa hospital bed with a tube up her nose, a needle for a peripheral IV stuck in one arm and monitors pasted to her body. It was early June 2014, a week after her 18th birthday, when a friend brought Aossey's mail from home — including one ominous letter. Aossey's health insurance was about to be discontinued.

"My heart dropped. I just wondered to myself, 'Are they going to pull this tube out, unhook me from everything and roll me down to the street?' " Aossey said. "Could I get the medicine I needed?"

The world's annual death toll from AIDS has been falling in recent years — 1.5 million in 2013, a 35 percent drop from the peak of 2.4 million in 2005.

Now the number of deaths could soon drop even more.

The World Health Organization issued new guidelines Wednesday that recommend greatly increasing the number of people who take antiretroviral medications for the treatment and prevention of HIV infection.

If you're struck by a macaw, sucked into a jet engine or are having relationship problems with your in-laws, fear not: Your doctor now has a medical diagnosis code for that.

On Thursday, doctors, hospitals and health insurers must start using the ICD-10, a vast new set of alphanumeric codes for describing diseases and injuries in unprecedented detail.