Health Desk

Note: This post contains a photo of a monkey carcass, on sale at a bush meat market, that may be disturbing to some readers.

What's for dinner?

Porcupines, giant squirrels, dwarf crocodiles and a variety of primates, including golden-bellied crowned monkeys and Bioko black colobus monkeys.

Those are some of the bush meat offerings at the outdoor covered market in Malabo on Bioko Island, part of Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. And shoppers are willing to pay more for these prized delicacies than they'd fork over for chicken or fish.

When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 most residents evacuated safely. But thousands lost homes, careers, and the lives they had known. Since then, many seem to have recovered emotionally from the trauma. But some have not.

When bioengineer Christina Smolke started her own research lab, she was only 29-years-old. But that didn't stop her from setting colossal goals.

Smolke immediately began to work on what many considered to be a holy grail in bioengineering: yeast that can literally brew narcotic drugs. Achieving that, she knew, could open the door to the quick development of better medications of all sorts.

New Hampshire is in the throes of a drug epidemic driven by prescription opioids and heroin.

"The state of New Hampshire loses a citizen to an overdose death about every day," said Tym Rourke, chairman of the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

When the patient showed up in the emergency department, he was hurting. He'd taken a nice long soak in a warm tub, and a few hours later his fingers swelled enough to trap his ring. Now that finger was painful and swollen. The ring needed to come off, since restricted blood flow can lead to tissue death in the finger, which is about as fun as it sounds.

Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher, once likened eating alone to "leading the life of a lion or wolf." This philosopher of pleasures, it seems, was a big fan of companionship. Communal meals are woven into our DNA.

But a lot of us are lone wolves these days when it comes to dining. New research finds 46 percent of adult eating occasions — that's meals and snacks — are undertaken alone.

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably gotten drawn into the argument over whether it's better to cut carbs or fat from your diet. A new study doesn't completely resolve that question, but it does provide an important insight.

Some proponents of the low-carb diet insist that you must cut carbs to burn off body fat. Their reasoning goes that when you cut carbs, your body's insulin levels drop, and that's essential in order to burn fat.

Learning to make sounds by listening to others is a skill that helps make us human.

But research now suggests a species of monkey may have evolved similar abilities.

Marmosets have the capacity to learn calls from their parents, according to research published Thursday in the journal Science. The results mean that studying marmosets might provide insights into developmental disorders found in humans. It also suggests that vocal learning may be more widespread than many researchers thought.

It was a gift of about $600, to make up for wages that weren't paid. A gesture of gratitude, it may be the encouragement embattled nurses need to continue working with the specter of Ebola ever-present.

In the darkest hours, bonds formed between Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease doctor from Boston University who volunteered to fight Ebola last year, and the West African nurses who cared for patients beside her.

Hospitals have a free and powerful tool that they could use more often to help reduce the pain that surgery patients experience: music.

Scores of studies over the years have looked at the power of music to ease this kind of pain; an analysis published Wednesday in The Lancet that pulls all those findings together builds a strong case.

The undercover videos purporting to show officials of Planned Parenthood bargaining over the sale of fetal tissue have made the promise to defund the organization one of the most popular refrains of Republicans running for president.

It's actually a much easier promise to make than to fulfill. But that's not slowing down the candidates.

Not Everybody Likes Kissing

Aug 12, 2015

The music swells. On-screen, the two main characters' eyes meet. They lean in, and — slowly! — their lips gently press in a romantic kiss. All the teenage girls in the audience exhale audibly.

A whistleblower case in Texas accuses a medical consulting firm and more than two dozen health plans for the elderly of ripping off Medicare by conducting in-home patient exams that allegedly overstated how much the plans should be paid.

When Donald Trump said that Fox News host Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever," he showed that cultural taboos and biological misconceptions about female menstruation die hard. Trump later denied implying that Kelly asked him unfair questions in the first Republican presidential debate because she was having her period, but rather said he was referring to blood coming out of her nose.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Could the next big thing in alternative proteins be a something tiny and green?

As an obstetrician, I have counseled countless patients on the benefits of breast-feeding to both mother and baby. But I breast-fed my daughter, Safiya, for only one month, and my son, Haider, for only one week. I was a breast-feeding failure.

Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that, according to the Government Accountability Office, may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off-limits to women. But those who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception.

In a small house in rural Kenya, a young woman gives birth to a healthy little girl. Before anyone can celebrate, the mother starts bleeding. The woman will die soon if the bleeding doesn't stop.

Luckily, the midwife has a drug in front of her, called oxytocin. It can easily stop the postpartum bleeding and save the women's life. She takes the medication, but nothing happens. It doesn't work.

This story is fictitious. But the scenario is all too common.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

On a steamy San Diego afternoon, baseball fans are headed toward the Padres' downtown stadium. As they approach the park, they pass a large steel stall on the sidewalk. Darlene Collins stops to look at it.

"I did not know that was a bathroom," Collins observes. "I thought it was some kind of electrical equipment or something."

Then the stall emits a familiar sound.

"Well, now that I hear it flush, ..." she says. "I did not know that was a bathroom."

If you fall seriously ill in Poland you can count on good care at a private hospital but should probably steer clear of the public ones.

In Botswana, an otherwise survivable road accident could prove deadly owing to lack of good care. But in some areas of neighboring Namibia there's a decent chance emergency medical personnel can stabilize you.

And if you have a heart attack, your ticker should be in good hands in Sao Paulo.

In an event that has led to health warnings and turned a river orange, the Environmental Protection Agency says one of its safety teams accidentally released contaminated water from a mine into the Animas River in southwest Colorado.

The spill, which sent heavy metals, arsenic and other contaminants into a waterway that flows into the San Juan National Forest, occurred Wednesday. The EPA initially said 1 million gallons of wastewater had been released, but that figure has risen sharply.

From member station KUNC, Stephanie Paige Ogburn reports for our Newscast unit:

School is still out for the summer, but at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, D.C., students are hard at work — outdoors.

In a garden filled with flowers and beds bursting with vegetables and herbs, nearly a dozen teenagers are harvesting vegetables for the weekend's farmers market.

Developers of a new video game for your brain say theirs is more than just another get-smarter-quick scheme.

Akili, a Northern California startup, insists on taking the game through a full battery of clinical trials so it can get approval from the Food and Drug Administration — a process that will take lots of money and several years.

So why would a game designer go to all that trouble when there's already a robust market of consumers ready to buy games that claim to make you smarter and improve your memory?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Like most medical professionals, it's Dr. Katherine McKenzie's job to evaluate the wounds and scars of the patients who come to her. But unlike most, it's not her job to treat them.

For the past decade, she has worked to verify claims of physical torture by refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.

Africa will mark one year without polio on Tuesday. The last case was in Somalia in 2014.

But last week, a polio vaccination campaign in Kenya faced an unlikely opponent: The country's Conference of Catholic Bishops declared a boycott of the World Health Organization's vaccination campaign, saying they needed to "test" whether ingredients contain a derivative of estrogen. Dr. Wahome Ngare of the Kenyan Catholic Doctor's Association alleged that the presence of the female hormone could sterilize children.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on August 9, 2015.

Fresh air, the smell of pine trees, the sounds of birds chirping and brooks babbling — all of these have helped American city-dwellers unwind for generations. But in the era of Jim Crow segregation, nature's calm also gave African-Americans a temporary respite from racism and discrimination.

The National Football League held its annual hall of fame induction ceremony Saturday night, in Canton, Ohio. Eight players were given football's highest honor, including a posthumous induction for Junior Seau, the former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who killed himself in 2012.

After his death, Seau's brain showed signs of chronic damage — the same kind of damage that has been found in dozens of other former NFL players.

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