Health Desk

Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun March 22, 2015

'How Unromantic It Is To Die Of Tuberculosis In The 21st Century'

Polina, 37, rests in a hospital bed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2011. She is severely malnourished and suffers from numerous diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis C and HIV.
Misha Friedman

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 1:40 pm

As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa slows and falls from the headlines, there is a temptation among many to view this outbreak as an isolated event. In fact, the opposite is true. Ebola is the tip of a global health crisis: a crisis in our collective ability to deliver the essentials of modern medicine to those who need help the most, in the most timely and efficient manner.

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Global Health
5:27 pm
Sat March 21, 2015

Communicating The Right Message About Ebola

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 6:41 pm

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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Your Health
6:11 am
Sat March 21, 2015

How The First Bite Of Food Sets The Body's Clock

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 9:56 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
4:29 am
Sat March 21, 2015

A Year Of Ebola: Memorable Moments From Our Reporters' Notebooks

Twins Watta and Fatta Balyon pose outside the home of their guardian Mamuedeh Kanneh in Barkedu, a village in Liberia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 1:43 pm

It started in December 2013. A 2-year-old boy in Guinea was running a fever. He was vomiting. There was blood in his stool.

He was most likely "patient zero" β€” the first case in the Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

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Shots - Health News
4:12 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

Microbiologist Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley. She's co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology β€” a tool that's recently made the snipping and splicing of genes much easier.
Cailey Cotner UC Berkeley

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:58 pm

A new technology called CRISPR could allow scientists to alter the human genetic code for generations. That's causing some leading biologists and bioethicists to sound an alarm.

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Goats and Soda
2:57 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

For The Love Of Pork: Antibiotic Use On Farms Skyrockets Worldwide

Regions that produce the most pork and chicken also use the most antibiotics on farms. Hot spots around the world include the Midwest in the U.S., southern Brazil, and China's Sichuan province. Yellow indicates low levels of drug use in livestock; orange and light red are moderate levels; and dark red is high levels.
PNAS

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 1:21 am

Sorry bacon lovers, we've got some sad news about your favorite meat.

To get those sizzling strips of pork on your plate each morning takes more antibiotics than it does to make a steak burrito or a chicken sausage sandwich.

Pig farmers around the world, on average, use nearly four times as much antibiotics as cattle ranchers do, per pound of meat. Poultry farmers fall somewhere between the two.

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The Salt
2:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Why Los Angeles' Fast Food Ban Did Nothing To Check Obesity

An economist with the Rand Corporation argues that Los Angeles' fast-food ban failed because it merely blocked new construction or expansion of "stand-alone fast-food" restaurants in neighborhoods where that style of restaurant was uncommon to begin with.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:34 pm

There's a researcher at the RAND Corporation who has been building a reputation as a curmudgeonly skeptic when it comes to trendy ways to fight America's obesity epidemic.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Wireless Sensors Help Scientists Map Staph Spread Inside Hospital

Grey lines connecting health care workers (marked with "+") and patients represent contacts between them. The red figures are carriers of MRSA.
Obadia et al. PLOS Computational Biology

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 4:34 pm

Whatever lands you in the hospital or nursing home also puts you at risk for acquiring an infection, possibly one that's resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Staph infections are common problems in health care facilities, and many Staphylcoccus aureus bacteria are now resistant to drug treatment.

Chances are you've heard of MRSA, which is the kind of staph that isn't susceptible to methicillin, the antibiotic that used to be a silver bullet.

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Shots - Health News
8:09 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Despite A Wave Of Data Breaches, Fed Says Patient Privacy Isn't Dead

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:08 am

It's hard to keep track of even the biggest health data breaches, given how frequently they seem to be happening.

Just Tuesday, health insurer Premera Blue Cross disclosed that hackers broke into its system and may have accessed the financial and medical records of some 11 million people. Premera's announcement comes weeks after another health insurer, Anthem Inc., announced that it too had been hackedβ€”and that the records of nearly 80 million people were exposed.

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Around the Nation
4:05 am
Fri March 20, 2015

From Skid Row To Rome: The Story Of An Unusual Running Club

Skid row is home to hundreds of homeless people who pitch tents at night for shelter. But it is also home to a Midnight Mission running club, helping residents with homelessness and addiction.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 5:29 pm

Craig Mitchell is a judge in Los Angeles' criminal court, but he has an unusual sideline gig. He's one of the last people anyone would expect to find hanging out in Skid Row, known as a hub for LA's homeless community. But about four years ago, a man he once sent to state prison called him up and asked him to come down.

It's not a quiet place, even at six in the morning. People shuffle in and out of makeshift tents that line the sidewalks. A few yards away, about a half dozen men pass by doing something that would look perfectly normal almost anywhere else in LA: jogging.

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The Salt
5:24 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Watch Your Back, Kale. Kelp Is Gunning For The Veggie Du Jour Title

Alaria, a type of seaweed also known as "Wild Atlantic Wakame," grows in the North Atlantic Ocean and is similar to Japanese wakame, a common ingredient in miso soup.
Courtesy of Sarah Redmond

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 1:47 pm

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

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Shots - Health News
2:29 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

'Looks Like Laury' Shines The Power Of Friendship On A Failing Mind

Laury Sacks and her husband, Eric. The actress and writer developed frontotemporal dementia in her late 40s and died in 2008 at age 52.
Courtesy of Eric Sacks

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:09 am

More than 5 million Americans have dementia, and that number is only climbing. Each case leaves some people wondering what's left in a friendship when the bond between confidants becomes literally unthinkable, when language and thinking fail. But a good friend can sometimes help in ways that a spouse, a child or a paid professional can't.

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Shots - Health News
11:40 am
Thu March 19, 2015

For A Good Snooze, Take One Melatonin, Add Eye Mask And Earplugs

It's hard to sleep when the light's on and the monitor's beeping.
Roderick Chen Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 2:16 pm

Hospitals are one of the worst places to try to get a good night's sleep, just when you need it the most. And though many have tried to muffle the noise of beeping monitors and clattering carts, the noise remains a big problem for many patients.

But what if we looked at a night in the hospital as a long overseas flight? As you settle in, they hand out eye masks and earplugs. And you cleverly brought along melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone sold at drugstores everywhere.

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Goats and Soda
11:35 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Botched Ritual Circumcision Leads To World's First Penile Transplant

These teens from the Xhosa tribe wear traditional garb and paint after their coming-of-age circumcision ceremony near Qunu, South Africa.
CARL DE SOUZA AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 4:02 pm

It began with a ritual circumcision for a teenager in South Africa, from the Xhosa tribe. And it ended with the world's first penile transplant, completed in December and disclosed last week.

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Business
4:02 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Blue Shield Of California Loses Its Tax-Exempt Status

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 5:03 am

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

Shots - Health News
2:06 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The U.S.?

Acids, alcohol and pancreatic tissue were separated, bathed and mixed in this laboratory of a 1946 insulin factory in Bielefeld, Germany.
Chris Ware Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 2:16 pm

Dr. Jeremy Greene sees a lot of patients with diabetes that's out of control.

In fact, he says, sometimes their blood sugar is "so high that you can't even record the number on their glucometer."

Greene, a professor of medicine and history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, started asking patients at his clinic in Baltimore why they had so much trouble keeping their blood sugar stable. He was shocked by their answer: the high cost of insulin.

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Shots - Health News
7:27 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Blue Shield Of California Loses Exemption From State Taxes

Steve Rhodes/Flickr

California tax authorities have stripped Blue Shield of California, the state's third largest insurer, of its tax-exempt status in California and ordered the firm to file returns dating to 2013, potentially costing the company tens of millions of dollars.

At issue in the unusual case is whether the company is doing anything different from its for-profit competitors to warrant its tax break. As a nonprofit company, Blue Shield is expected to work for the public good in exchange for the exemption from state taxes.

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Goats and Soda
5:07 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

How Malaria In The Brain Kills: Doctors Solve A Medical Mystery

The effects of malaria in the brain are clear: A healthy brain, right, has many grooves and crevices. But when the brain swells up, left, these crevices smooth out.
Courtesy of Michigan State University

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 11:16 am

Malaria is one of the oldest scourges of mankind. Yet it's been a mystery how the deadliest form of the disease kills children.

One doctor in Michigan has dedicated her life to figuring that out. Now she and her team report their findings in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The key to solving the mystery was looking inside the brain.

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Shots - Health News
3:45 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

How Much Can Women Trust That Breast Cancer Biopsy?

Pathologists use slides like this one to look for signs of cancer in breast tissue.
Boilershot Photo Science Source

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 4:06 pm

When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the person who does the diagnosing is a doctor she never sees β€” the pathologist.

But though pathologists do a great job of identifying invasive cancer, they aren't as good at spotting two less clear-cut diagnoses that bring women a lot of uncertainty and worry, a study finds.

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Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Teens Say They Change Clothes And Do Homework While Driving

Hey, I'm not texting. Surely this is safe.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 4:08 pm

While most teenagers recognize that texting while driving is a bad idea, they may be less clear about the risk of other activities – like changing clothes.

Twenty-seven percent of teens say they sometimes change clothes and shoes while driving, a study finds. They also reported that they often change contact lenses, put on makeup and do homework behind the wheel.

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Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Risks Run High When Antipsychotics Are Prescribed For Dementia

Is the benefit from antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia symptoms worth the risk?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 7:29 am

When you hear about dementia, the chances are you think about memory problems.

But other common symptoms of dementia, including Alzheimer's, can be even more troublesome to patients and their families: aggressiveness, agitation, delusions and hallucinations.

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Goats and Soda
11:16 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Alarming Number Of Women Think Spousal Abuse Is Sometimes OK

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 3:59 pm

Domestic violence is never OK. Yet in 29 countries around the world, one-third or more of men say it can be acceptable for a husband to "beat his wife." Perhaps more surprising: In 19 countries, one-third or more of women agree that a husband who beats his wife may be justified, at least some of the time.

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The Salt
10:37 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Cowboy Cravings: Fried Cookie Dough And Other Rodeo Calorie Bombs

(Left to right) Rodeo concessions include the loaded potato; deep-fried chocolate cupcake and the Texas Tater Twister, a spiral-cut tater on a sausage, deep-fried.
(Left and Center)Robert Young/Flickr; Dave 77459/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:06 pm

American state fairs have gotten competitive about wowing fair-goers (and the media) with their ever more outrageous concessions.

Among the immoderate new dishes of 2014? The cheeseburger stuffed with macaroni and cheese on a Krispy Kreme bun at the California State Fair, and the deep-fried breakfast on-a-stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Politics
4:14 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Abortion Provision In Human Trafficking Bill Delays Lynch Vote

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:31 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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The Salt
2:12 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis during a guest appearance on ABC's The Chew last fall. She can cook rich foods and keep her trim figure, but new research suggests that's a difficult feat for amateur cooks watching along at home.
Lou Rocco ABC/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:37 pm

If you've ever watched Giada de Laurentiis make gooey chocolate-hazelnut spread or a rich carbonara pasta dish, you may have wondered: How can she cook like this and maintain her slim figure?

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Goats and Soda
5:36 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Breast-Feeding Boosts Chances Of Success, Study In Brazil Finds

Brazilian mothers participate in a demonstration in 2011 for the right to breastfeed in public, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Eduardo Anizelli/STF LatinContent/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 11:23 am

Babies who are breast-fed may be more likely to be successful in life, a provocative study published Tuesday suggests.

The study followed more than 3,000 babies into adulthood in Brazil. The researchers found those who were breast-fed scored slightly higher in intelligence tests in their 30s, stayed in school longer and earned more money than those who were given formula.

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Shots - Health News
4:15 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Your Drinking Habits May Be Influenced By How Much You Make

Cultura/Liam Norris Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 7:30 am

To keep people from getting into trouble with alcohol, it would help to know why they're at risk.

Genes make some people more susceptible to dependence or addiction, while the surroundings exert a stronger pull on others. But it's been devilishly hard for researchers to sort those out. Context β€” who's drinking where and when with whom β€” matters a lot.

Add in money and it gets even trickier. And we're not talking about whether you can afford microbrews.

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Shots - Health News
2:51 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Workplace Suicide Rates Rise Sharply

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 7:30 am

Suicide rates in the U.S. have gone up considerably in recent years, claiming an average of 36,000 lives annually.

Most people take their lives in or near home. But suicide on the job is also increasing and, according to federal researchers, suicide risk changes depending on the type of work people do.

Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health analyzed census data and compared suicide rates among different occupations.

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Shots - Health News
8:55 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Most N.Y. Marketplace Plans Lack Out-Of-Network Coverage

If you're a New Yorker shopping for health insurance on the state's exchange, you won't be able to find a health plan with out-of-network coverage unless you live around Albany or in the far western part of the state.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 8:20 am

More than a dozen insurers offer plans on the New York health insurance marketplace. Depending on where shoppers live, they may have more than a hundred options to choose from.

But despite being spoiled in many ways, there's one popular feature that most New Yorkers can't find in any of the health plans offered on their state exchange: out-of-network coverage.

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All Tech Considered
8:35 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Facebook's Suicide Prevention Tools Connect Friends, Test Privacy

After a post has been flagged for review, Facebook intervenes with a supportive message.
Facebook

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 2:41 pm

People who struggle with suicidal thoughts will often reach out to friends and family first. But when our social circle lives online these days, the biggest social media networks grapple with how to intervene and with getting users the right kind of help.

Facebook is the latest social media network to roll out support resources for suicide prevention. The company is now trying to combat suicide by doing what it does best β€” connecting friends.

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