Health Desk

Africa
3:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Flying Doctors Nigeria Began As Female Pilot's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 11:47 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
12:31 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Diet Soda: Fewer Calories In The Glass May Mean More On The Plate

Ditching sugar-sweetened drinks in favor of diet ones shaves the empty calories. But it doesn't help if you make up for those calories on your plate.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 12:17 pm

If only dropping pants sizes were as easy as switching from Coke to Coke Zero.

Sure, you're cutting out empty calories when you ditch the sugar-sweetened drinks in favor of artificially sweetened ones. But there's a growing body of research that suggests this isn't really helping in the battle of the bulge.

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Health Care
11:56 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Is The Obamacare Website Not Spanish Friendly?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
11:18 am
Fri January 17, 2014

One Downside Of Home Wart Treatments: Bursting Into Flames

The chemicals in home wart-freezing treatments are flammable, the Food and Drug Administration warns.
Courtesy of FDA

Wart removal seems so simple a medical treatment that it would be hard to mess it up. Until you start a fire.

The Food and Drug Administration says that it has received reports of 14 people being burned or starting fires while using wart-freezing devices since 2009.

Cryogenic wart removers contain a mixture liquid dimethyl ether and propane, which is highly flammable and doesn't require very high temperatures to catch fire.

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TED Radio Hour
8:36 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Can Grandmothers Change The World?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Disruptive Leadership.

About Bunker Roy's TEDTalk

Bunker Roy shares stories from a school in India that equips rural women for leadership by training them to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors.

About Bunker Roy

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Health
3:51 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Surgeon General Adds New Risks To Long List Of Smoking's Harms

John Hartigan, proprietor of Vapeology LA, a store selling electronic cigarettes and related items, takes a puff from an electronic cigarette in Los Angeles.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm

Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak is the latest in a long line of surgeons general who have tried to pound the final nails into the coffin of America's smoking habit.

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The Salt
2:37 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Cash Or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health

Lunch at the West Salem School District in Wisconsin.
Michelle Kloser for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm

American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.

Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.

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All Tech Considered
8:14 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

By Tracking Sugar In Tears, Contact Lens Offers Hope For Diabetics

While years of research remain to see if such a system is medically viable, Google's development of a tiny, flexible wireless computer embedded in a soft contact lens is a first.
Google

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm

The latest project from Google X is a smart contact lens, a tiny, flexible computer capable of monitoring glucose levels in tears. Researchers at Google are hopeful that one day this technology might be used to help diabetes patients better control their disease.

"I think the Google X device could be a huge game changer," says Dr. John Buse, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He's also chairman of the National Diabetes Education Program for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Environment
6:25 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

About 6,000 Natural Gas Leaks Found In D.C.'s Aging Pipes

A close-up schematic of leaks near the U.S. Capitol shows high leak densities east of the building, but few leaks over the National Mall, where very few natural gas pipelines exist.
Robert B. Jackson/Environmental Science and Technology

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:18 pm

The nation's capital is a pretty old city by American standards. It dates back to the late 18th century. Despite frequent face-lifts, parts of it are wearing out — for example, its underground gas pipelines. New research shows that Washington, D.C., suffers from thousands of leaks of natural gas.

"We drove 1,500 road miles in Washington, D.C., and found about 6,000 leaks," says Robert Jackson, an ecologist and environmental scientist at Duke University. "That's roughly four leaks every mile."

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The Salt
2:49 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Good News: Americans Are Eating 78 Fewer Calories Every Day

family dinners, like this one at the Brown-Spencer home in Mechanicsville, Va." href="/post/good-news-americans-are-eating-78-fewer-calories-every-day" class="noexit lightbox">
Americans are dining out less and eating at home more, new government research shows. This may mean more family dinners, like this one at the Brown-Spencer home in Mechanicsville, Va.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 5:55 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has crunched some numbers, and its conclusion is that Americans are munching less. And on more healthful stuff.

On average, working-age adults were eating about 78 fewer calories per day in 2010, compared with five years earlier, according to a report released Thursday.

So what are we eating less of? Saturated fat. Researchers documented a 6 percent decline in calories from saturated fat between 2005 and 2010.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

State Health Coverage Sign-Ups Paint A Complex Obamacare Picture

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, unveils a marketing campaign for the exchange in Los Angeles late last year.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:42 pm

Obamacare enrollment surged in December, and the administration's report on the numbers made headlines early this week.

But the national figures tend to obscure the differences from state to state.

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It's All Politics
12:28 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Doctors Say Reid's Request For Bowel Research Money Is No Joke

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada talks about unemployment benefits during a news conference Thursday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:47 am

In his new memoir, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates heaped scorn on many members of Congress for pushing their parochial interests with him.

But he saved a special dig for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," Gates writes, describing how the Nevada Democrat urged him to have the Defense Department invest in research into irritable bowel syndrome.

It's an anecdote that drew snickers — and media attention, including here at NPR.

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Shots - Health News
10:17 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FDA Asks Doctors To Stop Prescribing High-Dose Acetaminophen

The prescription painkiller sold under the brand-name Vicodin contains hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. To reduce the risk of liver damage, the Food and Drug Administration is moving to limit the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription medicines.
Toby Talbot AP

The pain reliever acetaminophen is easy on the stomach. But at high doses, the drug can be hell on the liver.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is asking doctors to refrain from prescribing drugs that contain high doses of acetaminophen to minimize the risk of liver damage.

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in nonprescription Tylenol. But it's also inside quite a few prescription pain pills, including Vicodin and Percocet.

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Planet Money
4:11 am
Thu January 16, 2014

How Perverse Incentives Drive Up Health Care Costs

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 2:07 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Emergency medical technicians, EMTs, are trained to save your life and aim to get you to a hospital as quickly as possible when needed. One thing they are usually not asked to do is to find ways to save money.

NPR's Zoe Chace explores one experiment in New York City that is trying to cut emergency care costs and cut return trips to the E.R.

ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: I'm in an ambulance, and we're on the way to the emergency room.

PETER DERMODY: How long have you been feeling like this, Michael?

MICHAEL: Like, two days.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Florida Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana For Child Seizures

Marilyn Budzynski takes care of her 20-year-old son, Michael, in Eustis, Fla., in September. Michael suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
Tom Benitez MCT /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:57 pm

Florida may soon become the latest state to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana. Advocates there are gathering signatures to put a medical marijuana referendum on the fall ballot.

But Florida's Legislature may act sooner to allow residents access to a particular type of marijuana. Advocates say the strain called Charlotte's Web offers hope to children with severe seizure disorders.

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Health Care
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Meet The Health Care First-Timers

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Millions more Americans now have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Much of the focus has been on coverage gaps, increased premiums and the clumsy rollout of the new law. But 6.1 million Americans, many of whom would not otherwise have health insurance, are now enrolled.

NPR's Nathan Rott has been talking with some of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF BABY)

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Shots - Health News
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

After Checking Blood Pressure, Kiosks Give Sales Leads To Insurers

SoloHealth owns 3,500 health screening kiosks like this one in San Francisco. In some states, the company sells customer contact information to insurers.
April Dembosky

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:56 pm

Those machines in drugstores and supermarkets that let people check their blood pressure also may be selling people's contact information to insurance companies trolling for new customers.

One of these kiosks sits in Aisle 10 of a Safeway in a city near San Francisco. Sitting down at the machine is like slipping into the cockpit of a 1980s arcade game. There are a big plastic seat and footrest for measuring weight and body mass index, a window for testing vision, and a blood pressure cuff. The kiosks don't charge people for the blood pressure measurement.

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Shots - Health News
1:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Blood Pressure Ruckus Reveals Big Secret In Medicine

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:55 pm

There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means.

Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person.

This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment.

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Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Biceps Curls And Down Dogs May Help Lower Diabetes Risk

Great-looking guns and lower diabetes risk, a nice twofer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 4:04 pm

Women who work out with weights an hour a week cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and yoga or stretching exercises count, too, according to a study that tracked the health of almost 100,000 women.

Doctors have long known that regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, but that's always been translated as aerobic exercise like jogging or brisk walking.

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Sports
11:21 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Judge Blocks NFL Concussion Settlement

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, some corners of the Internet are melting down because of a reported shortage of Velveeta. And don't try to act like you don't know what that is. We'll talk about the history of the ooey, gooey stuff and why, in a buffalo mozzarella world, we still like it. But first, to football. This is golden time for pro-football lovers. Two teams will book their tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend after a long season of hard hits.

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Shots - Health News
10:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Feds Extend Coverage For People In High-Risk Insurance Pools

The tens of thousands of people with a history of serious illnesses who are enrolled in high-risk insurance pools created under the Affordable Care Act will have two more months before they lose that coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

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The Salt
9:51 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Where In The World Is The Best Place For Healthy Eating?

The U.K. has plenty of fresh produce available, such as these vegetables on display at a garden show in Southport, England. But these healthy options cost more in the U.K. than in any other country in Western Europe.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:03 pm

The Dutch are known for their lax drug laws, tall statures and proficient language skills.

Perhaps we should add stellar eating habits to that list, as well.

The Netherlands ranked as the easiest country in the world in which to find a balanced, nutritious diet, the advocacy group Oxfam reported Tuesday.

France and Switzerland shared the second slot. And Western Europe nearly swept the top 20 positions, with Australia just edging into a tie for 8th.

Where did the U.S. land?

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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Soon To Be Big In Japan, Jim Beam's Roots To Stay In Kentucky

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., maker of Jim Beam and owner of other popular bourbon brands, including Maker's Mark.
Bruce Schreiner AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:48 am

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

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Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Why The Youth Gap On Obamacare Exchanges Could Be A Yawner

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:23 am

The dust is settling a bit after the administration released details Monday about who signed up for health insurance on the exchanges during the chaotic three months after they launched Oct. 1.

Just about everybody was watching to see how many young people piled in. Younger people are generally healthier, and their premiums tend to balance out insurers' outlays for older, sicker people.

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Health Care
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

The Young And Restless May Cause Drama For ACA

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

After a slow start, the Affordable Care Act is now attracting customers at a healthier pace. The government said yesterday that 2.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the state and federal exchanges. But there's a serious red flag. A disproportionate number of new enrollees are middle aged or older.

Here's NPR's Jim Zarroli on what that means for the program and for insurers.

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Digital Life
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Dying In The Digital Age: When Should The Conversation End?

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

An active conversation — and a hefty dose of outrage — is swirling on social media about the proper boundaries between public and private when it comes to illness and death. Lisa Adams, a stage 4 cancer patient, has been tweeting her experiences with the disease. Writers Bill and Emma Keller have derided her tweets as akin to "deathbed selfies." Melissa Block talks with Meaghan O'Rourke about how we treat dying in the digital age.

Shots - Health News
3:39 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Drug Tests Don't Deter Drug Use, But School Environment Might

So am I doing this to forget how much I hate my school?
iStockphoto

Schools that do random drug testing say it helps students say no to illegal drugs, while critics say it's an invasion of privacy. But feeling good about school may affect students' drug use more than the threat of testing.

A survey of high school students found that the possibility that they might face drug testing didn't really discourage students from alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. But students who thought their school had a positive environment were less apt to try cigarettes and pot.

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The Salt
1:19 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Tobacco Returns To The Bar, This Time Inside Cocktails

The Step-dad cocktail at Bar Charley in Washington, D.C., features house-made tobacco bitters.
Courtesy of Leo Schmid

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:09 pm

Take a sip of the Oaxacan Fizz at Father's Office in Los Angeles and you'll discover the unmistakable taste of tobacco. That's because this cocktail is sweetened with a small amount of tobacco-infused sugar syrup.

"A lot of people say, 'I only smoke when I drink,'" says chef-owner Sang Yoon. "We say, 'Now you can do both.'"

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Shots - Health News
11:20 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Doctors Recommend Universal Diabetes Testing For Pregnant Women

Before you get too far along, you should get a blood test for diabetes.
Emiliano Rodriguez iStockphoto

All pregnant women should get tested for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy, a federal panel says, to reduce the risk of dangerous complications for both mother and child.

This isn't one of those controversial bits from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, like its recommendation that women under age 50 not get mammograms. Most obstetricians are already screening their patients for gestational diabetes.

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Children's Health
10:53 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Toddler Removed From Home After Viral Swearing Video

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 and dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Today, we're talking about something you might have talked about yourself with other parents or friends if you've seen this video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You a hoe (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You a hoe (bleep).

MAN: What's up then?

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