Health Desk

Shots - Health News
11:06 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Marketplace Rules Could Hurt Assistance Programs For Costly Drugs

There's confusion about whether drugmakers can provide financial assistance to patients who buy health insurance on the exchanges.
Roel Smart iStockphoto

People who need expensive drugs to treat serious medical conditions often rely on drugmakers' assistance programs for help.

But it's uncertain whether the help will be allowed for people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces established by the federal health law.

With open enrollment ending in less than two months, federal rules remain unclear, leaving patients, advocates and drug programs in limbo.

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Parenting
10:57 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Calling Kids With Disabilities 'Heroes' Can Be Damaging, Says Parent

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 1:21 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms or dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. And if you're a parent, you've probably enjoyed moments when your child is praised for something - a teacher calling her smart or another mom saying he's so well behaved.

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Afghanistan
2:48 am
Tue February 4, 2014

An Afghan Success Story: Fewer Child Deaths

A young girl receives a polio vaccine at the Isteqlal hospital in Kabul on Sept.19, 2011.
Adek Berry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:12 am

One of the most dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban is the increase in average life expectancy from 45 to 62 years. That gain is almost entirely a function of reductions in child mortality due to the spread of basic health services.

Yet Afghanistan still has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, and there could be significant backsliding as the international community reduces aid after NATO troops withdraw at the end of this year.

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Shots - Health News
2:45 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Wanna Smoke? It Could Cost You A Tooth, FDA Warns Teens

Smoking can mess up your looks, according to an ad campaign aimed at keeping teens from smoking.
Courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:12 am

When it comes to persuading teenagers not to smoke, you have to think short-term, the Food and Drug Administration says.

"While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday before unveiling the agency's first-ever anti-smoking campaign.

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Law
3:52 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Undermanned And Limited, Chemical Safety Board Confronts A Crisis

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:33 pm

Transcript

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: I'm Brian Naylor in Washington.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

HPV Vaccine Doesn't Promote Riskier Sexual Behavior In Teens

A 13-year-old girl gets an HPV vaccination at the University of Miami in 2011. The vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 3:00 pm

More than a few parents have worried that the HPV vaccine might encourage girls to be more sexually active.

But girls say that's not so, even if they think, wrongly, that the HPV vaccine protects them against other sexually transmitted diseases.

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Shots - Health News
1:33 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Inexpensive Aquarium Bubbler Saves Preemies' Lives

A nurse attaches the low-cost breathing machine (far left) to an infant at The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.
Jocelyn Brown Rice University

There's only one thing better than having a good idea, and that's having a good idea that really works.

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Shots - Health News
10:18 am
Mon February 3, 2014

10 Places Where Health Insurance Costs The Most

Health insurance premiums in Aspen, Colo., are among the highest in the country.
Andrew Wilz AP

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 1:12 pm

If you are buying health coverage in the Colorado ski resort towns, the Connecticut suburbs of New York City or a bunch of otherwise low-cost rural regions of Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada, you have the misfortune of living in the most expensive insurance marketplaces under the new health law.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Mon February 3, 2014

What's Good For Baby Camels Could Be Good For Human Skin

Camels in Jordan supply the milk for a Missouri startup's skin-care line. The company is studying the milk's anti-inflammatory properties.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 3:17 pm

In parts of the Middle East, people drink camel's milk for its nutritional value. It boasts more vitamin C and iron than cow's milk, and it's lower in fat. But in the American Midwest, some people are rubbing camel's milk on their skin — in the form of a skin-care line from Jordan.

Penelope Shihab is the founder of a biotech company in Jordan — and the woman behind the Missouri startup that's working on the skin-care products.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Most Teens Aren't Active Enough, And It's Not Always Their Fault

The CDC would be happy with these guys, who were playing in Birmingham, Ala., in July 2013. Teenage boys say basketball is their favorite activity.
Mark Almond AL.COM /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:43 am

Sure, you think, my kid's on a football team. That takes care of his exercise needs, right? Probably not.

"There are these bursts of activity," says Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "But if you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play."

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Young Athletes Risk Back Injury By Playing Too Much

A West Coast team player kicks the ball during a match at the Adidas Challenges America's Youth Soccer Stars tournament in Venice, Calif.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 8:27 am

Jack Everett sat on his living room couch wearing a back brace, eyes glued to a massive TV set playing his favorite video game, NHL 2013.

"I'm the Boston Bruins," the 10-year-old said as he deftly worked the video controls. "The guy that just shot was Milan Lucic. He's a really good guy on our team."

Whether at home or during recess at his elementary school in suburban Los Angeles, Jack's young life now is about sitting still.

"Well, I can eat lunch with friends, and I play cards," Jack says. But his classmates are out running and jumping outside.

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Shots - Health News
4:45 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Abortions Reportedly Drop To Lowest Rate Since 1970s

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 10:39 am

Abortions in the U.S. resumed their downward trend between 2008 and 2011, according to a new study. But its authors say the recent surge of state laws intended to restrict the procedure is likely not the reason.

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Around the Nation
4:20 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

The Brutal Business Of Heroin Brings Wave Of Overdoses In Pa.

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 5:42 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Drug-related deaths are scarring families and communities across the country. The area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been hit especially hard. Twenty-two people have died there in less than two weeks, the latest in a wave of heroin overdoses. Police in Western Pennsylvania are blaming the deaths on an especially potent form of the street drug. After testing, they determined the heroin had been mixed with a prescription painkiller known as Fentanyl.

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Shots - Health News
11:55 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Poll: Support For High School Football, Despite Concussion Risks

Most Americans are aware that football carries a risk of concussions. An NPR poll found a large proportion of people believe safety improvements are needed for football to remain a high school sport.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:48 am

Making sure that children are active often means getting them interested in sports. But parents have to weigh the health risks of those sports, including hits that can cause concussions.

Concussions are brain injuries. Most people, including kids, recover from a concussion. But concussions, particularly repeated ones, can lead to serious, lasting health problems.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close: Fans Risk Hearing Loss

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:48 am

For diehard football fans, nothing beats screaming your lungs out in the stadium alongside tens of thousands of other fans.

There is, however, a downside: hearing loss.

With the battle among fans to be the loudest crowd getting almost as competitive as the NFL itself, hearing experts say it's time for a serious conversation about the damage caused by crowd noise.

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Health
4:56 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With 'Desperation'

Sean Morey, then with the Arizona Cardinals, celebrates after blocking a punt against the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. Morey, who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, retired from the NFL in 2010 on the advice of doctors.
Stephen Dunn Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:51 pm

The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

More Republicans Push For Fixing, Not Repealing, Obamacare

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:51 pm

A rift is growing between Tea Party activists and other Republicans over health care.

Some influential conservatives are now saying the Affordable Care Act is too entrenched to repeal.

Take the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an influential business lobbying group. When the ACA passed in 2010, the chamber got behind the lawsuit to fight it at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Around the Nation
11:31 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Indian Country Sets Priorities With State Of Nations Address

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:59 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Many of us are continuing to talk about President Obama's State of the Union address. In fact, the Barbershop guys will give us their thoughts about it later this hour. But there was another important speech this week laying out the priorities of the nations within the nation. I'm talking about yesterday's State of Indian Nations address. That speech is a chance for the president of the National Congress of American Indians to lay out his priorities for Indian country.

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TED Radio Hour
8:34 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Is Too Much Privacy Bad For Your Health?

"People like to share, if you give them the opportunity and the choice." — John Wilbanks
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:02 am

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The End Of Privacy.

What are your thoughts on privacy? Tell us at huff.to/yourprivacy a special collaboration with TED, NPR and The Huffington Post.

About John Wilbanks' TEDTalk

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Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Rep. Waxman Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Health Laws

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California stands in his Capitol Hill office beside a wall displaying his legislative accomplishments. Waxman, 74, said Thursday that he would retire after 40 years in the House of Representatives.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 10:43 am

California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the last remaining members of the huge post-Watergate class of 1974, is calling it quits at the end of this term.

Most people who live outside his Los Angeles district and off Capitol Hill have likely never heard of Waxman. He was never a fixture on the Sunday talk shows, or in Washington's social scene.

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The Salt
2:00 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Ads Go Healthy: Selling Yogurt With A Steamy Kiss

The Full House cast John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier are featured in Dannon's Superbowl ad.
OikosYogurt/Youtube

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:58 am

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Shots - Health News
5:37 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Russia's Love Affair With Vodka Lures Many To An Early Grave

Shoppers check out vodka in a street kiosk in Moscow in 2008.
Alexander Nemenov/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:48 am

Vodka is our enemy, the Russian proverb goes, so we'll utterly consume it. This embrace of the enemy has a lot to do with the country's abysmal life expectancy rates, with one quarter of Russian men dying before age 55. But when the drinkers start cutting back, death rates drop almost immediately, a study finds.

"High mortality absolutely is caused by hazardous alcohol consumption," says Dr. David Zaridze of the Russian Cancer Research Center of Moscow, who with his colleagues tracked Russian drinking habits for a decade.

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Shots - Health News
2:31 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Does Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Need A New Name?

The Institute of Medicine is reviewing how chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed and whether that label puts too much emphasis on fatigue over other significant symptoms.
Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 4:48 pm

If the prestigious Institute of Medicine pays attention to your disease, that's usually considered a good thing. But some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome fear that the review of the condition by the institute, an independent organization that advises the government on health issues, might perpetuate the widespread belief that their condition is purely psychological.

The controversy begins with the name. Everyone experiences fatigue, and lots of people are tired most of the time. But long-standing fatigue is just one of many debilitating symptoms.

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Shots - Health News
11:29 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Access To Toilets And Books Improves Life For Kids Across The Globe

Palestinian girls read the Koran at a camp in Gaza City, June 2012. In poor countries, boys are 20 percent more likely than girls to enroll in school, UNICEF says.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

The world is in the midst of a porcelain revolution.

Nearly 2 billion people have gained access to clean toilets, or at least a decent outhouse, since 1990, the nonprofit UNICEF reports Thursday.

That rise in sanitation has led to big health improvements, the agency says, because contaminated drinking water is still a major cause of disease and death for children.

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The Salt
11:23 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Your Nose Knows Which Foods Are Fattiest

Charles, Prince of Wales, smells before tasting some ice cream during a visit to Gloucestershire. Maybe he was sniffing for fat?
Barry Batchelor/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 10:11 am

A lot of us can agree that low-fat ice cream is a sad substitute for the real deal. It's not as creamy, and it just doesn't taste as good.

Now researchers are saying it may even smell different.

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have found that people can actually smell differences in dietary fat in food.

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U.S.
10:40 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Effects Of Gun Violence Are Long Lasting And Wide Ranging, Says Expert

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 1:37 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Now we'd like to return to an issue that's in the news all too often. We're talking about gun violence, particularly that experienced by children. That's something the president touched on in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, and something that, in fact, dominated his speech last year. But when we talk about this issue, usually, tragically, we are talking about young people who've been killed.

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Shots - Health News
9:13 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Popular Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attack

Some men take testosterone hoping to boost energy and libido, or to build strength. But at what risk?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:06 am

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

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Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Adult Obesity May Have Origins Way Back In Kindergarten

Playing outside can help kids — and their parents — maintain a healthy weight.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 2:20 pm

A lot of parents like to think their kids will simply outgrow baby fat. But the risk of becoming a severely overweight adult can actually start as early as kindergarten, research suggests.

"As parents, as a society, as clinicians, we need to think about a healthy weight really early on," says Solveig Cunningham, who led the study. But that doesn't mean putting young children on calorie-restricted diets.

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Shots - Health News
2:56 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 10:11 am

Neanderthals died out long ago, but their genes live on in us. Scientists studying human chromosomes say they've discovered a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. And these aren't just random fragments; they help shape what we look like today, including our hair and skin.

These genes crept into our DNA tens of thousands of years ago, during occasional sexual encounters between Neanderthals and human ancestors who lived in Europe at the time. They show up today in their descendants, people of European and Asian descent.

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Around the Nation
12:36 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

How Industrial Chemical Regulation Failed West Virginia

Jonathan Steele, owner of Bluegrass Kitchen, fills a jug with bottled water from a tank he installed in the back of his Charleston restaurant.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 6:55 pm

On Jan. 9, people in and around Charleston, W.Va., began showing up at hospitals: They had nausea, eye infections and some were vomiting. It was later discovered that around 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals had leaked into the Elk River, just upstream from a water treatment plant that serves 300,000 people. Citizens were told not to drink or bathe in the water, and while some people are now using water from their taps, many still don't trust it or the information coming from public officials.

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