Health Desk

Shots - Health News
12:40 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Is It Time To Reconsider Breast Self-Exams?

Twitter user @AshleighEarley participates in the The Sun's Check'em Tuesday campaign.
Twitter.com

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 6:56 am

Perhaps your mother told you. Or your doctor. Maybe you learned it in gym class.

For me it was all three: "Once a month, do a breast self-exam," they all said. "Use your fingertips in a circular motion to feel for lumps." (My mom, a nurse, even brought home a fake breast that I could practice on.)

So I was stunned when a physician in Glasgow, Scotland, criticized a campaign aimed at getting women to do their own breast checkups.

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12:08 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Debate Over Opting Out Of Health Insurance For Religious Reasons

Lead in text: 
Here & Now recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois about a bill he sponsored called The Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH).
recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois about a bill he sponsored called The Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH). The bill would allow individuals to opt out of mandatory health insurance by writing "sincerely held religious beliefs" on their tax return, along with a sworn statement explaining their objection.
The Salt
12:08 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

The Old And Mysterious Practice Of Eating Dirt, Revealed

Dr. William Rawlings holds a piece of kaolin from his hometown of Sandersville, Ga.
Courtesy of Adam Forrester

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 8:51 am

There's an old saying in the South: "A child's gotta eat their share of dirt."

Mamie Lee Hillman's family took this literally, but they weren't after just any old dirt.

"I remember my mom and my aunties eating that white dirt like it was nothing," says Hillman, who grew up in Greene County, Ga., and used to go with her family to dig for their own dirt to snack on. "It was an acceptable thing that people did."

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Shots - Health News
10:23 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide makes a space walk outside the International Space Station in 2012.
NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 6:55 am

NASA is hoping to soon venture out farther into space than ever before. But these long journeys mean astronauts could face greater risks to their physical and mental health than the space agency currently allows.

Now, an independent group of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has weighed in on how NASA should make decisions about the kinds of risks that are acceptable for missions that venture outside low Earth orbit or extend beyond 30 days.

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Health Care
4:24 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Debate Over Repealing Health Care Law Is Over, Obama Says

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 12:04 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

There were many predictions in recent months that not enough people would sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Turns out those predictions were wrong. And President Obama went to the Rose Garden yesterday to make sure everyone knew it.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Seven point one million Americans have now signed up for...

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ...private insurance plans through these marketplaces.

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Shots - Health News
2:54 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Small Health Insurance Co-Ops Seeing Early Success

Karl Sutton leaves his mobile greenhouse in Montana. He sells spinach as part of a farmers co-op, and likes that nonprofit business model for his health insurance, too.
Eric Whitney for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 12:04 pm

Many of us know the names of some of the big U.S. health insurance companies β€” like Blue Cross, Aetna and Wellpoint. But what about CoOportunity Health, or Health Republic Insurance of New York? These are among 23 new companies started under the Affordable Care Act. They're all nonprofit, member-owned insurance cooperatives that were begun, in part, to create more competition and drive prices down.

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Shots - Health News
6:05 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Why Is Guinea's Ebola Outbreak So Unusual?

A nurse of the 'Doctors without Borders' medical aid organisation examines a patient in the in-take area at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms Ҁ” the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola.
Seyllou AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 6:56 am

Doctors Without Borders has called the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea "unprecedented" β€” not because of the number of victims (so far at least 78 have died) but because the disease has traveled to various parts of the country.

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Shots - Health News
3:42 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Review Finds Mammography's Benefits Overplayed, Harms Dismissed

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 6:04 pm

Talk to women here in the office, and it quickly becomes clear that we're confused about what to do about mammograms. And no wonder.

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Health Care
3:01 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Beyond The Fog Of Spin And Doubt: What Has ACA Achieved?

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 6:58 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block in Dallas.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington, where President Obama cheered the Affordable Care Act today.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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The Two-Way
1:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Obama: The Affordable Care Act Is Working, 'Helping People... Coast To Coast'

The HealthCare.gov website has been a source of delays and confusion for those trying to sign up for health insurance under the ACA.
Jon Elswick AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 4:00 pm

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. ET. with Obama's comments.

President Obama emerged from the White House on Tuesday to rousing applause. He announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health care through the federal exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," Obama said at the Rose Garden. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast."

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Shots - Health News
12:20 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Fraud Found In Study Claiming Fast, Easy Stem Cells

Ryoji Noyori, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist and president of Japan's prestigious RIKEN research institute, bows at a news conference in Tokyo Tuesday to apologize for the scientific misconduct of a RIKEN colleague.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 7:04 am

What is it with stem cell research? Despite solid science from many corners, the scandals never seem to stop. In this case, after a lofty international announcement in January, it only took about two months for the other shoe to drop.

A scientific committee in Japan said Tuesday that the lead author of a recent "breakthrough study" fabricated data and is guilty of scientific misconduct.

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Shots - Health News
11:50 am
Tue April 1, 2014

People Who Are Still Uninsured May Turn To Community Clinics

Dr. Cheryl Focht checks a patient's eyes at Mary's Center, a federally funded health clinic in Washington, D.C.
Heather Rousseau NPR

If you're uninsured, you may have run out of time. Monday was the official deadline to sign up for health insurance on the marketplaces or face a penalty, unless you were already in line for enrollment.

Still, people who missed the cutoff have options to get the health care services they need, though they may not be simple or assured.

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Shots - Health News
10:50 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Becoming More Popular Doesn't Protect Teens From Bullying

Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan, left) found out the hard way that moving up into the A-list clique doesn't protect you in the movie Mean Girls.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 7:01 am

Movies like Mean Girls have told us that the popular crowd rules, and the nerds and nonconformists get picked on.

But even the top rungs of high school social ladder aren't immune to bullying, researchers say. Becoming more popular can actually increase a teen's risk of getting bullied rather than making them immune to attack.

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Shots - Health News
9:33 am
Tue April 1, 2014

HealthCare.Gov Woes Frustrate Last-Minute Shoppers And Helpers

Loretha Cager talks with an applicant at MNSure's call center in St. Paul, Minn., Monday. Monday was the open enrollment deadline for signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Ann Heisenfelt AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:30 pm

Last-minute health insurance shoppers turned up in record numbers Monday, both online and in person at clinics, county health departments and libraries. They were there to sign up for Obamacare on the last official day of open enrollment.

Public radio reporters checked out the scene in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Houston β€” three of the 36 states that are using HealthCare.gov β€” as well as in Minnesota, which has one of the most troubled state-run marketplaces.

Congested In Cleveland

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Shots - Health News
4:36 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

British Drugmaker Funds Research On Chronic Disease In Africa

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, says that better control of infectious diseases in Africa is allowing chronic diseases to come to the surface.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:31 pm

One of the world's largest drugmakers says it will invest more than $200 million in Africa over the next five years in a push for better treatment of noncommunicable diseases there.

GlaxoSmithKline said the funding would be focused on sub-Saharan Africa, where the company already employs about 1,500 people and operates three factories. The money would go toward building five more factories and funding of research and development focused on the region.

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Shots - Health News
4:22 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

How Your Face Shows Happy Disgust

Can you name the 10 emotions conveyed above? The first six are basic emotions. The last four are complex emotions that combine two of the basic ones. (Check at the bottom for the answers.)
Courtesy of Aleix M. Martinez

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:31 pm

We smile when we're happy. But how does a face strike the proper look to show, say, happy surprise? Or happy disgust, like when you're laughing at a really gross joke?

A new report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that we instinctively mix and match actions from the six basic emotions to stitch together more subtle expressions.

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Health
3:37 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

As Soldiers Return, Who Is Caring For The Caregivers?

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 11:08 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We've heard a lot in the last few years about caring for returning veterans. We don't hear so much about the people who take care of them. A major study released today says more than a million Americans - mostly spouses and parents - are military caregivers. They get by without much government support, and they're suffering some serious consequences. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

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News
3:37 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Cause For Hope And Frustration In the Shadow Of ACA Deadline

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 11:08 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel in Washington.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block this week at our member station KBRA in Dallas.

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Shots - Health News
2:57 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Orthotic Brace Takes Soldiers From Limping To Leaping

Soldiers participate in physical therapy while using a prosthetic brace called the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO), which allows them to use and strengthen severely injured legs.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:31 pm

A deceptively simple leg brace is changing the lives of hundreds of wounded service members. Soldiers with badly injured legs who thought they'd have to live with terrible pain can walk and run again, pain-free.

Earlier this month, Army Spc. Joey McElroy took his first steps in the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO (pronounced: eye-DAY-oh). The device squeaked a bit as he stepped briskly on an indoor track.

McElroy was hit by a car and thrown from his motorcycle on Dec. 5, 2012.

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Shots - Health News
1:47 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Glitches Return To HealthCare.Gov As Enrollment Clock Expires

HealthCare.gov has more last-minute shoppers than it can handle.
HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 2:29 pm

The last day of sign-ups for health insurance on the HealthCare.gov website is turning out to have a lot in common with the first: lots of computer problems.

But there are some big differences, too. Back in October the not-ready-for-prime-time website was only able to enroll six people on its first day.

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Shots - Health News
12:21 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Weight-Loss Surgery Can Reverse Diabetes, But Cure Is Elusive

About 23 million adults have Type 2 diabetes, and most of them are overweight or obese.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:45 pm

Bariatric surgery can help obese people lose weight, and excess weight is a big risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. So it makes sense to try to figure out whether the surgery could help control diabetes, too.

So far the answer is yes, at least for some people and for three years. But surgery doesn't work for everyone, and the long-term implications remain unclear.

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Health
4:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Why All Fat Is Not Created Equal

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 6:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, that story on that came to us from NPR's Allison Aubrey who joins us in the studio now. And, Allison, Elizabeth, right there at the end sounded very relieved to be eating fat again, a burger.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: That's right. She did.

GREENE: And, yeah, and I'm wondering does this mean that we can bring back the burgers? Bring back the bacon? Would make me very happy.

AUBREY: Ah-ha. That's what you're looking for here. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

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Politics
2:35 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Obamacare Rolls Into N.H. Like A Political Campaign β€” And Wins

In New Hampshire, where the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular, the state has exceeded expectations for insurance enrollments. Credit goes, in part, to a grass-roots campaign to sign people up.
Brian Snyder Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 9:34 am

Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or at least to begin the process. We already know that nationwide more than 6 million people have enrolled.

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The Salt
2:31 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet

Nutrition researchers are reaching a new consensus: Cut back on all those refined carbs. And remember that some fat is good.
Stacy Spensley/Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 2:10 pm

Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s? Yes, we know from the Salt readers who took our informal survey that lots of you tried to follow it. And gave up.

"I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful," Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.

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Shots - Health News
4:06 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

Everybody Has A Price: Why This 'Invincible' Chose Insurance

When Brad Stevens was young, his only "health insurance" was taking tons of vitamins and spending three hours at the gym every day. But after a serious bike accident and an expensive battle with thyroid cancer, the 59-year-old realized nobody's invincible.
Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 5:30 pm

When we first met Brad Stevens, he was living in Lakeport, Calif., a struggling massage therapist in a struggling town on the southern tip of Clear Lake. Stevens had been uninsured his entire adult life, and used to believe firmly that clean living and exercise could stave off any need for medical care.

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Shots - Health News
8:21 am
Sun March 30, 2014

Why Paper Prescriptions Are Going The Way Of Snail Mail

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 10:09 am

Charlie is like a lot of my patients. He's in his late 50s, weighs a little too much and his cholesterol and blood pressure are both too high. To lower his risk of a heart attack or stroke, he takes daily pills to control his blood pressure and lower his cholesterol.

A couple of times a year, Charlie visits me to make sure the drugs are working and aren't causing problems.

Caring for patients like Charlie has become easier in the last few years because of something that you might take for granted in 2014: electronic prescribing.

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Education
8:18 am
Sun March 30, 2014

What A Small Town's Teen Pregnancy Turnaround Can Teach The U.S.

Michelle Nimmons (with the red shoe) poses with some of the students in her sex education program in Denmark, S.C.
Courtesy of Michelle Nimmons

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:57 am

Thirty years ago, the small town of Denmark, S.C., had one of the state's highest teen pregnancy rates.

"We had very young grandparents, grandparents were maybe [in their] 30s," says Michelle Nimmons, who has worked for the past 30 years on the issue of teen pregnancy. "Great-grandmamas were in their 40s, and parents were in their teens, so a lot of education had to happen."

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Shots - Health News
6:40 am
Sun March 30, 2014

After Ending Polio, India Turns To Stop Another Childhood Killer

A boy waits to get vaccinated at an anti-polio campaign in Moradabad, India.
Michaeleen Doucleff NPR

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 11:20 am

The world just took one step closer to eradicating its second disease.

On Thursday, health officials declared India β€” and the entire Southeast Asia region β€” free of polio. And India's success against paralyzing disease is already opening doors for the massive country to stop even bigger problems.

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The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

West Virginia's Governor Vetoes Abortion Ban

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 11:05 am

Calling a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unconstitutional, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have made it a crime to carry out such a procedure in West Virginia. Tomblin said the bill was a "detriment" to women's health and safety.

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Health Care
11:51 am
Sat March 29, 2014

Latinos Wary Of All-Out Push To Sign Up For ACA

Planned Parenthood worker Alicia Gonzales promotes the Affordable Care Act during an outreach event for the Latino community in Los Angeles in September.
Jonathan Alcorn Reuters /Landov

All throughout the country, supporters of the Affordable Care Act have worked to reach the uninsured, holding health fairs and putting ads on TV and radio.

The push continues to get as many enrolled as possible, especially Latinos β€” the most uninsured group in the country.

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