Health Desk

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will announce Thursday that it's going to crack down on hospitals, for the first time ever, to prevent an epidemic of back and arm injuries among nursing employees.

Nurses and nursing assistants suffer more of those debilitating injuries than any other occupation, and those injuries are caused mainly by moving and lifting patients.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There's nothing like jamming a waxed piece of string between your tightest molars and sliding it back and forth. And who doesn't do that once a day, just as the dentist prescribes?

As a region, the Americas fare quite well in Gallup's new global index of personal well-being, but the U.S. fell from No. 12 to No. 23 worldwide. The top 10 includes Costa Rica, Belize, and Mexico.

Panama took the top spot for the second straight year in the Gallup-Healthways Country Well-Being report, with Costa Rica second. Switzerland was the top European country, in fourth. At No. 23, the U.S. is one spot behind Israel and one ahead of Canada.

Vietnam is having condom problems.

Hundreds of thousands of condoms sold there are substandard. They tear easily and don't offer reliable protection. While this might seem like a red flag, it's actually a sign of progress.

Christine White pays $300 a year more for her health care because she refused to join her former employer's wellness program, which would have required that she fill out a health questionnaire and join activities like Weight Watchers.

"If I didn't have the money ... I'd have to" participate, says White, 63, a retired groundskeeper from a Portland, Ore., community college.

Toddlers can throw their fair share of tantrums, especially when you don't yield to their will. But by age 3, it turns out, the little rug rats actually have a burgeoning sense of fairness and are inclined to right a wrong.

When they see someone being mistreated, children as young as 3 years old will intervene on behalf of others nearly as often as for themselves, a study published this month in Current Biology suggests. Just don't ask them to punish the perpetrator.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Every day for six months last year, Mikkel Lawrence stood over his bathroom sink in Northern California and took two pills that were very expensive.

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Compared to other cultures around the world, Americans are big stoners.

About 40 percent of Americans say they've tried marijuana at some point in their lifetimes, a large survey found. That rate was the highest reported across 17 countries, and it's nearly 10 times higher than the global average.

But when it comes to reefer madness, nobody can top the Aka — a group of traditional hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin.

People who buy medical marijuana products might not be getting what they paid for, a study finds. And evidence remains elusive on benefits for most medical conditions, even though almost half the states have legalized medical marijuana.

For its first 25 years, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force toiled in relative obscurity.

WUIS

As a nurse, Mindy Pearse has to call women undergoing cancer tests to relay the results.  Sometimes, she delivers bad news.

Pearse understands how those women feel.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer a decade ago.

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In secret chemical weapons experiments conducted during World War II, the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas.

When those experiments were formally declassified in the 1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs made two promises: to locate about 4,000 men who were used in the most extreme tests, and to compensate those who had permanent injuries.

But the VA didn't uphold those promises, an NPR investigation has found.

Fryman Canyon is one of those special places in the city of Los Angeles — a bit of country and canyon nestled just off the crest of Mulholland Drive, with gorgeous views of the valley and mountains.

It's favored by the canine set — my two dogs love it here — and on any given morning I'm sure to run into fellow canyon lovers, like Stacy Maes and her energetic weimaraner, Astrid.

Fraud and abuse continue to dog Medicare's popular prescription drug program, despite a bevy of initiatives launched to prevent them, according to two new reports by the inspector general of Health and Human Services.

Their release follows the arrests of 44 pharmacy owners, doctors and others, who last week were accused of bilking the program, known as Part D.

If you've wondered whether there's a downside to wearing superskinny jeans, this story's for you.

A 35-year-old Australian woman wound up in the hospital after wearing skinny jeans while helping a family member move.

The move involved "many hours of squatting while emptying cupboards," according to a report published Monday in the journal Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

An outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in South Korea has sent sales of surgical masks soaring.

When the deadly virus first appeared in the country in May, people started wearing masks just about everywhere — on the metro, at crowded malls and even at weddings — despite the fact that the virus doesn't spread easily outside of hospitals and clinics.

We hate to break it to you, Mr. Leprechaun, but someone really is after your Lucky Charms: General Mills.

Or more specifically, it's after the artificial colorings used to give the cereal its trademark rainbow-colored marshmallow shapes. General Mills on Monday announced it will remove artificial colors and flavors from all of its cereals.

Terri Anderson signed up for California's Medicaid program earlier this year, hoping she'd finally get treatment for her high blood pressure. But the insurer operating her Medicaid plan assigned the 57-year-old to a doctor across town from her Riverside, Calif., home and she couldn't get there.

"It was just too far away," says Anderson, adding that she cares for her 90-year-old ill father and can't leave him alone to make an hour round-trip drive to the doctor. Now she's crossing her fingers that a health clinic near her house will accept her new insurance.

We all know that listening to music can soothe emotional pain, but Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys can also ease physical pain, according to a study of children and teenagers who had major surgery.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

You don't expect to see world leaders getting down on all fours to perform yoga in public, let alone in a mass yoga class that draws observers from Guinness World Records.

But India's Narendra Modi did just that when he launched International Yoga Day on Rajpath, the central Delhi mall that represents the nerve center of power in India.

"Who would have thought that we would turn Rajpath into Yog-path [Yoga Road]," Modi asked the assembled yoga enthusiasts.

It would be easier to exercise, I've told myself, if I had a personal trainer. Maybe one that came to my house. Whenever I wanted. For free.

My dream of a live trainer who won't judge my outfit and is available at my beck and call — like a Jillian Michaels who knows my name — is being developed as an app called Fitnet.

An Award To New England's Elderly Is Not Always Cause For Celebration

Jun 20, 2015
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Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET

Officials in South Korea say they've had no new cases of MERS for 16 days, but also reported the 25th death from the deadly disease. Thailand, which discovered the first case of the deadly disease earlier this week, says 175 people were exposed to its single case, with no new infections reported so far.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

From time to time, NPR's Ina Jaffe joins us for a conversation we call 1 in 5 because one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 years or older in just 15 years. Ina joins us now from the studios of NPR West. Ina, thanks for being with us.

As South Koreans continue to struggle with the worst outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, ever recorded outside the Middle East, their comrades to the north say, "We've got a cure for that!"

The World Health Organization says there's no known cure or vaccine for MERS, but state-run media in Pyongyang reports a wonder drug called Kumdang-2 will do the trick. The report makes no mention of whether Pyongyang is going to offer this miracle compound to its neighbor to the south. Or as the news agency puts it: "the Korean puppet authorities" in Seoul.

Would you drink fewer cans of soda if a national tax jacked up the price?

When it comes to schemes to counter the staggering rates of obesity and diabetes around the world, there's a growing consensus that taxes that force consumers to reckon, via their pocketbooks, with their food and drink habits might be the way to go.

But since so few countries — or cities — have dared to try a "sin" tax on soda or junk food, no one really knows if they'd actually work.

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