Health Desk

Krulwich Wonders...
1:26 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Jupiter's Dot And Mine. Why Life Is Unfair

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 10:58 am

When I was 9, my dad drew this picture of me. You will notice something on my left cheek — a little brown spot.

That's a mole. The doctor called it "a birthmark." My mom called it "a beauty mark." I was born with it. Having grown up before supermodel Cindy Crawford became famous, I was not familiar with the allure of beauty marks and, anyway, I'm a guy. My mom said it was hardly noticeable. I didn't believe her.

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Shots - Health News
1:01 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Blocks The Bad Guy's Exit

Red blood cells infected with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. Plasmodium is the parasite that triggers malaria in people.
Gary D. Gaugler Science Source

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 5:46 pm

For the first time in decades, researchers trying to develop a vaccine for malaria have discovered a new target they can use to attack this deadly and common parasite.

Finding a target for attack is a far cry from having a vaccine. And the history of malaria vaccines is littered with hopeful ideas that didn't pan out. Still, researchers in the field welcome this fresh approach.

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Health Care
12:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Congresswoman And Veteran 'Appalled' By VA Scandal

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Around the Nation
12:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Teenage Mischief Can Lead To Jail Time In Tennessee

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 3:58 pm

Teenagers get in trouble for skipping school, breaking curfew or buying cigarettes, but in one Tennessee county, that can mean jail. Susan Ferriss reported on this for the Center for Public Integrity.

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Shots - Health News
7:49 am
Thu May 22, 2014

GOP Strategy To Run Against Health Law Hits Snags

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivers remarks during the the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in March 2013.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

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Around the Nation
4:06 am
Thu May 22, 2014

VA's Health System: Some Love It, Some Hate It

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 8:18 am

Nearly 30 VA facilities are accused of falsifying statistics on how long veterans must wait for care. President Obama said the problems go back decades, but most veterans are satisfied with the care.

Shots - Health News
4:09 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Anxiety And MRIs May Be Driving The Rise In Double Mastectomies

More women are choosing double mastectomy even if they don't have a high cancer risk.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:21 am

The number of women getting double mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis has been rising in the past 10 years, even though most of them don't face a higher risk of getting cancer in the other breast.

That has cancer doctors troubled, because for those women having the other breast removed doesn't reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or increase their odds of survival. And they don't know why women are making this choice.

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Sports
3:55 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

For Physicians, The Ethics Of Treating Athletes

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Several hundred pro-football players say that the National Football League supplied them with painkillers, risky narcotics, to keep them playing, despite injuries. Some say they weren't told of the seriousness of those injuries. Others say they became addicted to the drugs and they have sued.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
2:20 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

The Vegetables Most Americans Eat Are Drowning In Salt And Fat

This isn't exactly what a healthy serving of veggies looks like.
Lauri Patterson iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 4:02 pm

Popeye and our parents have been valiantly trying to persuade us to eat our veggies for decades now.

But Americans just don't eat as many fruits and vegetables as we should. And when we do, they're mainly potatoes and tomatoes — in the not-so-nutritious forms of french fries and pizza, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Pop Culture
11:12 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Does It 'Suck To Be A Fat Girl'?

A recent episode of FX show Louie raised some controversial questions about women, weight and body image. Did the episode miss the mark? Our panel of writers and bloggers weigh in.

Shots - Health News
10:44 am
Wed May 21, 2014

When Doctors Play This Game, You Get Better Medical Care

Hey docs! Play this online game and learn how to do a better job of getting our blood pressure under control!
Lisa F. Young iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 2:29 pm

Doctors are required to keep current on best medical practices, but those efforts all too often don't do a thing to improve patient care. But what if the class is a game — one that lets you compete against other doctors and show off your smarts?

Plus you get funny emails. Oh, and your patients get better, too.

That's the gist of an online game tested at eight Boston-area hospitals to see if it could improve treatment of high blood pressure by getting practitioners to follow recommended treatment guidelines.

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Shots - Health News
8:29 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Medicare May Be Overpaying Hospitals For Patients Who Don't Stay Long

The federal government may be paying hospitals $5 billion too much as a result of an 18-month moratorium on enforcement of rules that tell hospitals when patients should be admitted, says an independent Medicare auditing company.

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Health
2:27 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Should HPV Testing Replace The Pap Smear?

Two cervical cancer cells divide in this image from a scanning electron microscope.
Steve Gschmeissner Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 1:15 pm

Robin Reath was getting a routine checkup recently when her doctor brought up something new about cervical cancer screening.

"We might be doing something a little bit different than what we've been doing in the past when we've screened you," said Dr. Andrea Singer, an internist at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.

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Governing
2:22 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Without A Marijuana Breathalyzer, How To Curb Stoned Driving?

In an effort to make the roadways safer, Colorado set a marijuana DUI blood standard for drivers. But it's difficult to actually measure how high a person is.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:28 am

Like many medical marijuana patients, Greg Duran says he drives in fear, knowing he could be busted at any moment for driving under the influence.

As he merges onto Interstate 70 north of Denver, Duran explains that he's probably over the state's new marijuana limit: 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, the psychoactive chemical in pot.

"It would be devastating if I lost my car. It would change everything," Duran says.

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News
4:09 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

CIA Announces Plans To End Fake Vaccination Programs

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 7:16 pm

The White House announced that the CIA will stop using fake vaccination programs to further its spy operations. The decision comes after leaders from U.S. public health schools brought the practice to light.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
3:57 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Lawmakers Seek Delay On Healthy Lunch Rules For Schools

Some schools say they're having a tough time implementing new nutrition rules requiring more whole grains, more veggies and less fat.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 4:57 pm

How hard can it be for school cafeterias to swap white bread for whole-grain tortillas, cut sodium, and nudge kids to put more fruit and vegetables on their trays?

Tougher than you might imagine, according to some schools.

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Shots - Health News
12:24 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Poll: Yes To Medical Marijuana, Not So Much For Recreational Pot

Total of responses exceeds 100 percent because of rounding.
NPR-Truven Health

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 7:50 am

Minnesota has become the 22nd state to loosen restrictions on use of marijuana, with its legislature approving the sale and use of medical marijuana on May 15. Other states, including Florida, are considering similar measures.

These changes are happening fast, and we were wondering how people feel about this seemingly inexorable push to decriminalize pot, so we asked, in the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll.

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Shots - Health News
10:43 am
Tue May 20, 2014

E-Cigarette Users May End Up Paying More For Insurance

A customer holds the electronic cigarette he purchased at a store in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

People may think that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to tobacco, but insurers might not agree.

Tobacco use is one of just four things that insurers that sell health plans on the individual market can take into account when determining someone's premium: age, geographic location, and family size are the other three. People who use tobacco can be charged up to 50 percent more than nonsmokers.

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Health Care
10:19 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Waiting At VA Hospitals: A Matter Of Life And Death

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 11:26 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. At some point, many of us have encountered a wait to see a health professional. It can be annoying and frustrating and an inconvenience. But what if it turns out that the health problem is not minor and that wait is the difference between life and death? Now, some families of veterans who waited for care from the Department of Veterans Affairs claim it was the difference between life and death.

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Shots - Health News
9:39 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Following Abuses, Medicare Tightens Reins On Its Drug Program

Medicare has new power to police doctors whose prescribing patterns are out of whack.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 9:42 am

The federal government has granted itself potent new authority to expel physicians from Medicare if they are found to prescribe drugs in abusive ways, following through on a proposal issued earlier this year.

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The Two-Way
8:45 am
Tue May 20, 2014

CIA Says It Will No Longer Use Vaccine Programs As Cover

A doctor gives a polio vaccine to a child at a health clinic in Baghdad last week. The CIA says it banned the use of vaccine programs as cover for spying last year — a practice health officials said had wide repercussions.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 4:32 pm

A White House official says the CIA will no longer use vaccine programs as cover for spy operations, answering health experts' complaints that it had hurt international efforts to fight disease.

The CIA famously used a vaccination program as a ploy to gain information about the possible whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. That effort didn't succeed, and the doctor involved was sentenced to a prison term. But the revelation had immediate effects — particularly in the fight against polio.

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Shots - Health News
7:50 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Beezin' May Be Bogus, But Other Dopey Teen Fads Can Bite Back

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 1:00 pm

Another month, another apocalyptic news report of some weird substance that kids are abusing in pursuit of a high.

The most recent example is "beezin'," which supposedly involves smearing Burt's Bee's lip balm on one's eyelids. The tingling allegedly heightens the sensation of being drunk or high, according to the Oklahoma Fox News affiliate that first declared this a "viral trend."

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Global Health
4:13 am
Tue May 20, 2014

3rd U.S. Case Raises More Questions About MERS Virus

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 11:43 am

Federal health officials reported over the weekend that the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, had spread from one person to another for the first time in the U.S.

Politics
4:11 am
Tue May 20, 2014

How Big A Factor Will Obamacare Be In Midterm Elections?

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 2:39 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Voters are choosing congressional nominees in half a dozen state primaries today, from the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South. Those states also run the gamut in their experience with the Affordable Care Act.

Now that the first insurance sign-up period has ended, we thought we'd take this opportunity to explore how the law is playing politically, and gauge what effect Obamacare might have on the midterm elections in November.

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Shots - Health News
5:42 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Task Force Says Asking All Patients About Suicide Won't Cut Risk

Alexandra Thompson iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 8:26 pm

Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, especially among teenagers and young adults. Anything that could reduce the toll would be good.

But asking everyone who goes to the doctor if he is considering suicide isn't the answer, according to a federal panel that evaluated the effectiveness of existing screening tools for suicide. They found there wasn't enough evidence to know whether screening the general public helps or hurts.

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Health Desk
5:23 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Mumps Case Involving District 186 Employee

Credit District 186

Springfield District 186 says an employee had a confirmed case of mumps.  The district was notified late Friday.  Officials say the employee had NOT been in contact with any students during the time of being contagious.  

The employee has not been identified, nor the location where they work.  Staff who were in contact with the individual have been notified.

District 186 says a majority of students have received the mumps vaccine.  It says if mumps are confirmed in a school, parents of those kids without immunizations would be notified.  

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The Two-Way
12:28 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

E. Coli Fears Spark Recall Of 1.8 Million Pounds Of Beef

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 1:05 pm

Federal authorities say a recall has been issued for 1.8 million pounds of ground beef that was shipped for use in restaurants. Detroit company Wolverine Packing issued the recall Monday; the Department of Agriculture says the beef may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

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Shots - Health News
11:06 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Less Sleep For Little Kids Linked To More Belly Fat Later On

Research suggests that young children who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be obese by the time they hit age 7.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 9:46 am

Ask anyone who's dealt with a crabby toddler at the end of the day: Little kids need a lot of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says that 1- to 3-year-olds, for example, generally need 12 to 14 hours of shut-eye a day.

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Global Health
5:44 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Mosquito-Borne Breaking Bone Disease Spreads In Haiti

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 9:20 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A mosquito-borne virus is spreading across the Caribbean. It's called Chikungunya. It's hardly ever fatal but it does hurt, causing severe joint pain. And public health officials expect the disease to eventually reach the U.S. Reporter Peter Granitz takes us to Haiti, the country with the most recent confirmed outbreak.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Hacking The Brain With Electricity: Don't Try This At Home

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 8:34 am

It's the latest craze for people who want to improve their mental performance: zapping the brain with electricity to make it sharper and more focused. It's called "brain hacking," and some people are experimenting with it at home.

The idea's not completely crazy. Small jolts of electricity targeted at specific areas of the brain are used to treat diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's, typically with tiny devices that must be surgically implanted.

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