Health Desk

Around the Nation
10:34 am
Thu May 15, 2014

The Pact That Turned A Juvenile Delinquent Into A Medical Doctor

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 11:37 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Our friends at All Things Considered have been collecting stories of moments when people's careers took off. It's called My Big Break.

They recently spoke to Dr. Sampson Davis who grew up in the rough parts of Newark, N.J. He talked about how doing a stint in juvie put his life in perspective.

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Shots - Health News
7:37 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Just One-Third Of People Can Tell If You're Faking That Laugh

Does she really think you're funny, or is she just being polite?
Jon Feingersh/Getty Getty Images/Blend Images RM

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 10:42 am

  • Researcher Greg Bryant Speaks To NPR's Robert Siegel

Scene: The happy-hour office party.

Your boss is relaxed, drink in hand. A little liquid courage of your own, and you approach her, taking a shot at an opportunity to impress. You open with a quip. She chuckles.

But does she really mean it? Or is she faking?

Only one-third of people can tell the difference between a fake laugh and the real deal, according to a study by Greg Bryant, a professor of communication at University of California, Los Angeles.

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Shots - Health News
6:19 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Don't Salmon, Don't Shoal: Learning The Lingo Of Safe Cycling

What's that salmon doing in the bike lane?
Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 8:48 am

Alec Baldwin, you were salmoning!

The actor was ticketed in New York on Tuesday for riding his bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street.

Cyclists use the term "salmoning" to describe a biker going against the stream on a one-way bike lane. Surely the definition can be broadened to include Baldwin's infraction.

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Around the Nation
5:10 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Shinseki To Address Claims Veterans Died Waiting For Care

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 9:55 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

In an unusual move, the American Legion is calling on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to step down. That comes in the wake of accusations that a VA facility in Arizona kept a secret list of veterans who were not able to see a doctor in a timely fashion.

INSKEEP: The list was allegedly aimed at concealing lengthy delays in care during which some veterans died.

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Around the Nation
2:05 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Across The U.S., Bicycle Commuting Picks Up Speed

The ranks of bicycle commuters are growing, though men are almost three times more likely than women to ride to work.
Tobias Ackeborn iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 9:55 am

As bicycling goes, America is far behind Copenhagen, the promised land where roads look like bicycle highways as people pedal to work. But commuting by bike in the U.S. is catching on — though geographic, income and gender disparities persist.

In Chicago, busy Sheridan Road is the start of the Lakefront bike trail on its north side. That's where you can find plenty of bicyclists commuting to work early in the morning.

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The Salt
5:34 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

How Food Companies Court Nutrition Educators With Junk Food

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 1:41 pm

When hundreds of California nutritionists and dietitians gathered for their annual conference in April, their Friday lunch was a bacon ranch salad, chocolate chip cookies and a pink yogurt parfait, all courtesy of McDonald's.

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Shots - Health News
4:45 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

How U.S. Hospitals Are Planning To Stop The Deadly MERS Virus

Muslim pilgrims wear masks to prevent infection from the Middle East respiratory syndrome in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
Hasan Jamali AP

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:09 am

In the past month, Middle East respiratory syndrome has morphed from a little-known disease in the Arabian Peninsula to a major global health concern, with more than 300 cases in Saudi Arabia in April, 54 of them fatal.

Two cases have been reported in the U.S. as well — one in Indiana and one in Florida. Both men had worked in Saudi Arabia hospitals. So far, neither has spread the respiratory disease to others.

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The Salt
3:42 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

The Latest Food Truck Theme Is Marijuana For Lunch

The MagicalButter food truck is called The Samich.
Courtesy of MagicalButter

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 11:09 am

Food trucks have been steadily multiplying in cities across the country for a few years now. So their collision with the brave new world of marijuana edibles — from brownies to gummy candy — was probably inevitable, at least in the states where the drug is now legal.

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Law
3:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Slow Rape Kit Results Leave Victims Few Effective Places To Turn

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 6:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sexual assaults are now reported more often, but the Department of Justice says non-reporting still remains the rule. In fact, the DOJ says, only one in three victims reports the crime to police. Even fewer receive any social services. A new study finds that a lack of money and training often complicates the problem. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has more.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: After Emma Wagner was assaulted by a stranger last year, her first reaction was to hunker down, afraid of what would happen next.

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Business
3:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Minimalist Shoes Smacked With Lawsuit, As Health Claims Get The Boot

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 6:59 pm

The running world's recent trend of "minimalist" shoes has earned popularity partly from idea that they're more natural than regular running shoes. Now, not so much — minimalist shoemaker Vibram has just settled a class-action lawsuit for $3.75 million, agreeing to stop making health claims. Brian Metzler, the editor-in-chief of Competitor magazine, comments on the news.

Shots - Health News
1:33 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Neuroscientists Hack Dreams With Tiny Shocks

Actress Joan Gardner was a beautiful sleeper. But she probably wasn't a lucid dreamer. The ability is quite rare.
Sasha Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 1:25 pm

Oh, to be a lucid dreamer!

To be fast asleep at 3:30 a.m. and then realize: I'm in a dream. I can walk up these stairs, jump off the porch and start flying. Why not? It's a dream.

Lucid dreams have lit up the big screen in movies, such as Pan's Labyrinth and Inception. But the ability to control dreams, the hallmark of lucid dreams, is quite rare in real life.

Now German neuroscientists have taken a step toward giving this elusive power to some run-of-the mill dreamers.

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Shots - Health News
9:39 am
Wed May 14, 2014

MERS 101: What We Do (And Don't) Know About The Virus

Fear of MERS is prompting Saudis to wear mouth and nose masks, like this man on the street of the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on April 27.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 10:43 am

The virus with the mysterious name has been making headlines this spring, with a mysterious increase in cases. Here's an update on what we know about MERS.

What is it? Middle East respiratory syndrome, a new and potentially fatally virus from the same family as the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS).

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Shots - Health News
8:54 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Doctors Debate Whether Screening For Domestic Abuse Helps Stop It

In the U.S., doctors increasingly ask about domestic violence as a routine part of checkups.
iStockphoto

Domestic violence affects a third of women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In many cases nobody knows of the suffering, and victims aren't able to get help in time.

That's why in many countries, including the U.S., there's been a push to make screening for domestic violence a routine part of doctor visits. Last year, the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that clinicians ask all women of childbearing age whether they're being abused.

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Around the Nation
2:47 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Too Young To Smoke, But Not To Pick Tobacco

Eddie Ramirez, 15, outside his mobile home in Snow Hill, N.C. He's been working in tobacco fields during the summer for several years.
Will Michaels for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 8:30 am

Kids under 18 can't buy cigarettes in the U.S., but they can legally work in tobacco fields when they're as young as 12.

One of those kids is Eddie Ramirez, 15, who works the fields in the summer.

"It just sticks to my hand," he says of the plant. "It's really sticky, you know, and really yellow." It's nearly impossible to wash off, he says.

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Shots - Health News
2:46 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Obamacare Prompts Firm To Consider Dropping Its Health Plan

AmeriMark employees sort through return orders on the catalog company's processing floor.
Sarah Jane Tribble / WCPN

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 12:09 pm

AmeriMark Direct founded its catalog business in Cleveland in the 1960s, and for decades, everyone assumed that health insurance came with the job.

These days, the 700-employee company doesn't assume anything.

The traditional mail-order catalog company sells a broad selection of products — from magnetic "fashion bracelets" and patio dresses to sexual health aids and religious-themed blankets.

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Health Care
4:02 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

'Good Doctor' Puts Past Medical Practices Under An Ethical Microscope

byryo iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 4:49 pm

Dr. Barron Lerner is a doctor and the son of a doctor. He grew up thinking his father was a wonderful, gifted and caring physician, which he was. But after Lerner started studying bioethics, he began questioning some of his father's practices — practices which were typical of many doctors in the '60s.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Pub Owner Frustrated That Health Plan Prices Keep Jumping

Paul Siperke, co-owner of Cleveland brewery Fat Head's, plans to keep providing health insurance to his employees. But he's irked by the continual price fluctuations in the group's policy — this year caused partly by the Affordable Care Act.
Milan Jovanovic WCPN

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 10:28 am

Paul Siperke is the co-owner of Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon, a popular brewpub in Cleveland. He has fewer than 50 full-time employees, so he's classified under the Affordable Care Act as a small business. He doesn't have to provide health insurance to his employees, but that's what he's been doing since the bar opened in 2009, despite some pretty dramatic volatility in rates.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Gene Sequencing Could One Day Make Malaria Easier To Treat

A health official takes a blood sample from a child's finger for a malaria test at a clinic in Bong Ti Lang village on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Narong Sangnak EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Malaria has proved one of the hardest diseases on the planet to treat. The World Health Organization estimates there are nearly 200 million cases each year, and the parasitic infection is blamed for some 700,000 deaths annually.

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Shots - Health News
3:19 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Meds Can Help Problem Drinkers, But Many Doctors Don't Know That

Naltrexone, a prescription drug better known for treating opioid abuse, is one of four drugs that helps problem drinkers quit.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 10:11 am

If you tell your doctor you'd like to stop drinking, odds are he's not going to give you a pill. That's too bad, a study says, because there are medications that can help people with drinking problems get off the sauce.

And they're not going to make you sick like Antabuse, a medication used for decades to treat alcoholics that makes them wretchedly ill if they drink.

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Shots - Health News
3:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

A Spoon That Shakes To Counteract Hand Tremors

The Liftware device, shown here as an early prototype (left) and the final design, starts up automatically when it's lifted from the table. There's no "on" switch to fumble with.
Ina Jaffe NPR

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 10:43 am

Eating a bowl of cereal in the morning seems like such a simple thing, but it's close to impossible for some of the 1 million Americans who struggle with the tremors of Parkinson's disease.

There are also as many as 10 million Americans who have a disorder called essential tremor — sometimes mistaken for Parkinson's — which, when severe, also can make eating a struggle.

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Shots - Health News
10:37 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Employers May Start Paying You To Buy Health Insurance

Employees pay directly for their health insurance in "defined contribution" plans.
iStockphoto

What if employers started giving workers a chunk of cash to buy health insurance on their own instead of offering them a chance to buy into the company plan? Are workers ready to manage their own health insurance like they do a 401(k)?

The idea that employers might drop their health plans and replace them with a "defined contribution" for employees has been around for years. It's one way for employers to control their expenses in the face of the relentlessly rising costs of health care.

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The Salt
9:10 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Resveratrol May Not Be The Elixir In Red Wine And Chocolate

There are more than three dozen polyphenols in red wine that could be beneficial. But resveratrol may not have much influence on our health.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 2:28 pm

If you've come to treat that daily glass of wine as your fountain of youth, it may be time to reconsider.

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Shots - Health News
4:02 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Overused Medical Services Cost Medicare Billions Of Dollars

Medical overtreatment is the inverse of former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's definition of pornography: While waste is easy to define in principle, it can be hard to know it when you see it.

A treatment that is appropriate for one patient can also be unnecessary or even counterproductive for another, depending on the patient's condition. This has been a major obstacle for studies seeking to pinpoint overused services, which by the most expansive estimates may account for as much as a third of the nation's health spending.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Deadly MERS Virus Detected In Florida

A farmworker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wears a mask to protect against Middle East respiratory syndrome earlier this month. The MERS virus is common in camels.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 3:38 pm

The second U.S. case of a dangerous new virus from the Middle East has been found in Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

The patient is a health care worker from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who developed symptoms May 1 while traveling to Orlando, Fla., to visit family, the CDC said.

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Shots - Health News
2:00 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Older Women May Actually Be More At Risk For Cervical Cancer

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 9:35 am

Women are often told they don't have to get a Pap test for cervical cancer if they're over 65, but the data behind that recommendation might underestimate their cancer risk, researchers say.

That's because many studies don't take into account that many women have had hysterectomies. The surgery removes a woman's risk of cervical cancer; no cervix, no cancer. And 20 percent of the women over age 20 in this study said they had had that surgery.

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Shots - Health News
12:31 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Driving While Pregnant Is Riskier Than You Might Think

Be a bit more careful? The risk of a traffic accident rises by about 40 percent during the second trimester of pregnancy.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 4:04 pm

Don't scuba dive. Be careful about flying. Stay out of those hot tubs. Pregnancy comes with a long list of do's and don'ts.

Now it looks like we might need to add another item to that list: Drive more carefully.

Expectant mothers are more likely to have serious car crashes, a large study out of Canada finds.

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NPR Story
4:06 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Mormon Bishop Highlights Health Coverage Gap Among Utah's Poor

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 2:06 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Many republican governors have taken a stand against Obamacare by refusing to expand Medicaid. Utah, which is one of the most republican states in the nation, remains undecided. But in a state where the majority of the population are Mormons, one bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says helping the poor is a moral obligation. Andrea Smardon from member station KUER in Salt Lake City has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHECKOUT SCANNER)

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Medicare Won't Always Pay For Boomers' Pricey Hepatitis C Drugs

New hepatitis C drugs can cost as much as $1,000 per pill.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 11:02 am

Walter Bianco has had hepatitis C for decades. He's known about it for 20 years. And now he's reaching the end of the road.

"The liver is at the stage next to becoming cirrhotic," the 65-year-old Arizona man says.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 am
Mon May 12, 2014

That Prescription Might Not Have Been Tested For Your Ailment

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 4:00 pm

It's actually quite common for doctors to write "off label" prescriptions, including using cancer drugs to treat migraine headaches or blood pressure medication for heart failure.

One study found that 1 in 5 prescriptions written in doctor's offices has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the condition it is being used for. And while some off-label drugs are used with no problems, others may not work or may increase a patient's risk of complications.

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Shots - Health News
12:37 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

Addicted And Pregnant: 'The Most Heart-Wrenching Experience Of My Life'

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 5:59 am

I bought my first and only pregnancy test when I was 26.

At the time, I had been doing a lot of meth. I was fortunate if I remembered to eat one meal a day. Refilling my birth-control prescription had become just another missed detail in a life that had ceased to have much meaning for me.

I was an addict, and I was staring at two very bright pink lines on a stick.

I showed the test to my boyfriend. "What are we going to do?" I asked. He replied, "Have a baby, I guess."

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