Health Desk

Business
2:35 am
Mon March 3, 2014

E-Cigarette Critics Worry New Ads Will Make 'Vaping' Cool For Kids

E-cigarettes was a $2 billion industry last year and it's expected to hit $5 billion this year.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 4:30 pm

Electronic cigarette makers are getting bold with their advertising, using provocative new print ads and celebrity endorsements on TV. But public health advocates say these images are luring kids to hook them on nicotine.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Evidence On Marijuana's Health Effects Is Hazy At Best

C. Nash smokes after possession of marijuana became legal in Washington state on Dec. 6, 2012.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:23 am

Colorado opened its first pot stores in January, and adults in Washington state will be able to walk into a store and buy marijuana this summer. But this legalization of recreational marijuana is taking place without much information on the possible health effects.

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Shots - Health News
2:32 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Marijuana May Hurt The Developing Teen Brain

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 7:42 pm

The teenager's brain has a lot of developing to do: It must transform from the brain of a child into the brain of an adult. Some researchers worry how marijuana might affect that crucial process.

"Actually, in childhood our brain is larger," says Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. "Then, during the teenage years, our brain is getting rid of those connections that weren't really used, and it prunes back.

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Shots - Health News
11:03 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Noise Machines To Help Babies Sleep Can Raise Quite A Din

Noise machines to help infants fall asleep can be so loud that they pose a hazard, researchers say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:23 am

About a year ago, pediatric otolaryngologist Blake Papsin went into a patient's room at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He was surprised by the roar of a sleep machine the parents had brought to help their child conk out amid the beeps and buzzes of the hospital.

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Shots - Health News
6:33 am
Sun March 2, 2014

FDA To Increase Access To Generic Morning-After Pills

Women's health groups campaigned hard to make a generic β€” and often cheaper β€” emergency contraceptive pill more widely available.
Elise Amendola AP

The Food and Drug Administration has decided to allow generic versions of the most popular form of emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over the counter, without age restrictions, after all.

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Shots - Health News
4:04 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

'Magic' Overdose Drug Works, But Demand And Price On The Rise

Several states distribute Naloxone hydrochloride, also called Narcan, to treat opium-based drug overdoses. But only one company manufactures the drug, and the price has spiked in recent years.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 9:35 pm

Calls to the fire department for suspected drug overdoses are increasingly common in Revere, Mass. The department responded to 16 overdose calls in a single six-day stretch in February.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Just One Dose Of Many Common Medicines Can Kill A Child

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 6:32 am

Concerns about drug risks have led 28 state attorneys general to ask the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its approval of Zohydro, a long-acting narcotic painkiller, before the medicine is even put on the market.

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Fitness & Nutrition
3:01 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Tips To Take Back The Dinner Table From Picky Eaters

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 9:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You may have one in your household, perhaps you're one yourself. We're talking about picky eaters, people who just won't try new foods. For the past month cookbook author Sally Sampson has been investigating what's behind fussy eating habits and blogging about her findings on The New York Times website.

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Shots - Health News
8:48 am
Fri February 28, 2014

A Strong Sex Life Helps Couples Cope With The Trials Of Aging

Intimacy in a marriage becomes even more important as we get older.
Radius Images Corbis

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 6:32 am

Health problems can put a strain on a marriage at any age. But as we get older, chronic illnesses can make it even tougher to keep the spark alive.

Scientists at the University of Chicago have uncovered one way couples can offset the stresses of illness and aging: more physical intimacy.

Couples who continue to be sexually active over the years report higher levels of satisfaction in their marriages, the sociologists reported last month.

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Economy
4:21 am
Fri February 28, 2014

CBO Assesses Affordable Care Act's Economic Effects

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 6:27 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Friday, this is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

The Affordable Care Act will change the way millions of Americans think about their jobs. That's essentially what the Congressional Budget Office has said in its assessment of the law's effect on the economy. They think the law will give some people the option to retire early and others the flexibility to work less.

As NPR's John Ydstie reports, this is already happening.

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Shots - Health News
2:31 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Connecticut Looks To Sell Its Obamacare Exchange To Other States

Kevin Counihan, CEO of Connecticut's health insurance exchange, hopes to be able to market their expertise.
Jeff Cohen/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:14 am

Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT, is walking through the 15th floor of a downtown Hartford office building that houses Connecticut's health insurance marketplace. He passes the legal department, the IT folks and the consultants, then stops in front of three large, wall-mounted computer screens.

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Shots - Health News
4:26 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Young Doesn't Mean Invincible When It Comes To Strokes

A third of adults who have had a stroke before age 50 have a hard time caring for themselves or living independently.
iStockphoto

Strokes sounds like an old folks' problem, but they hit young people, too. And they don't all shake it off. One-third of people who had a stroke before age 50 are struggling with disability and loss of function nine years later.

Many of those people aren't able to live independently or need help with everyday tasks, such as managing their finances or personal care, a study of young stroke survivors finds. About 1 in 8 wasn't able to live independently.

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Health
3:07 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

With New Food Labels, Back Of The Box Gets A Makeover

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 6:57 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

We've been hearing about the Food and Drug Administration's proposed makeover of the Nutrition Facts Panel, the box on food packages that tells us how much fat, sodium and other things are a product. Today, the first lady introduced the redesigned label at a White House event.

NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.

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Shots - Health News
12:08 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Stethoscopes Do As Much Dirty Work As Hands In Spreading Germs

That stethoscope may have more germs than you'd expect. A simple wipe with alcohol can solve the problem, but when's the last time you saw that?
iStockphoto

A trip to the doctor's office may help you feel better, but it can also send you right back to bed if you're unlucky enough to pick up someone else's germs during your visit.

And researchers say you might be getting those germs from the doctor's stethoscope.

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Shots - Health News
10:47 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Dr. Yogi: Physicians Integrate Yoga Into Medical Practice

Yoga may be more than just an exercise. In Maryland, doctors are learning how to use yoga instead of drugs to treat various medical problems.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 6:50 am

Rajan Narayanan isn't your average yoga instructor. During his classes, he uses words like "neuroplasticity," avoids Sanskrit terms and sometimes shows up to teach in a suit and tie.

And often, as was the case on a recent Monday at a Maryland conference center, most of his students are doctors and nurses.

Stretched out on orange and green yoga mats for a weekend-long workshop, the 30 students learned breathing techniques, lifestyle tips and research findings that support the health benefits of yoga.

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Parallels
2:29 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Anti-Abortion Push Has Spain Debating Definition Of 'Progress'

Anti-abortion advocates protest in Madrid on Oct. 17, 2013. Spain's Parliament is expected to approve abortion restrictions in the coming weeks.
Daniel Ochoa de Olza AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 6:30 am

Born in a tiny pueblo south of Madrid, Esperanza Puente arrived in the Spanish capital fresh out of high school. It was the late 1980s, and Spain was reveling in newfound freedoms after its military dictator Francisco Franco died and democracy took hold.

"The end of the 1980s was a wild time in Madrid β€” alcohol, drugs, nightlife, sex without commitment. When I arrived from a small village, I ate it up, like it was the end of the world!" recalls Puente, now 43, smiling. "But I ended up pregnant, and my boyfriend suddenly didn't want anything to do with me."

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Your Health
2:28 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Good Art Is Popular Because It's Good. Right?

What makes the Mona Lisa β€” or any piece of art β€” successful?
Sergio Velayosf Flickr

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:47 am

In July of last year, a man named Sidney Sealine went to see the Mona Lisa in Paris.

The idea was to spend some time with the picture, see for himself the special spark that made the painting so famous.

But Sealine couldn't even get close.

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The Salt
11:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

First Look: The FDA's Nutrition Label Gets A Makeover

The proposed Nutrition Facts label (right) has a few subtle differences from the current label, including bolder calorie counts and added sugar information.
Food and Drug Administration

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:33 am

Ready for a reality check about how many calories you're eating or drinking?

The proposed new nutrition facts panel may help.

The Obama administration Thursday released its proposed tweaks to the iconic black and white panel that we're all accustomed to seeing on food packages.

The most visible change is that calorie counts are bigger and bolder β€” to give them greater emphasis.

In addition, serving sizes start to reflect the way most of us really eat. Take, for example, ice cream. The current serving size is a half-cup. But who eats that little?

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Shots - Health News
6:56 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

More Hints That Dad's Age At Conception Helps Shape A Child's Brain

Boy meets girl, sperm meets egg β€” how much does the age of each matter?
James Steidl/Kyle Gruba iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 4:05 pm

Traditionally, research has focused on women's "biological clock." But in recent years, scientists have been looking more and more at how the father's age at conception might affect the baby, too.

A study published Wednesday hints that age really might matter β€” in terms of the child's mental health.

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Shots - Health News
4:42 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Blood Test Provides More Accurate Prenatal Testing For Down Syndrome

The new test scans a mother's blood for bits of a fetus's DNA.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 10:24 am

A new blood test offers pregnant women a safe and much more accurate way to screen for Down syndrome.

A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques.

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The Salt
4:41 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Maybe That BPA In Your Canned Food Isn't So Bad After All

Should you fear a chemical inside metal food containers like the ones that hold beans? Government scientists say no.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 11:39 am

Maybe BPA isn't so bad after all.

The plastic additive has been vilified by environmental advocacy groups. But the chemical had no effect on rats fed thousands of times the amount a typical person ingests, government scientists are reporting in the journal Toxicological Sciences.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

You Got What In The Mail? Home Test Boosts Colon Cancer Screening

Instructions for the colon screening test were devised so they can be understood in any language.
Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:57 am

Everybody's supposed to get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50, but many of us haven't gotten around to it. That's especially true in the Latino community, where about half of people are up to date on screening, compared to 66 percent of non-Latino whites.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Scientists Question Safety Of Genetically Altering Human Eggs

Up till now, all babies have had two genetic parents. That could soon change.
KlΓΆpper & Eisenschmidt GbR iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:08 am

A panel of government advisers has expressed serious concerns about a controversial proposal to allow scientists to try to make babies using eggs that have been genetically altered to include DNA from another woman.

Members of the Food and Drug Administration panel said they were worried that not enough research has been done to know whether the experiments would be safe.

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Shots - Health News
3:20 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Massachusetts Launches Health Care Shopping Experiment

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts signed the law enacting the state's latest phase of health care on August 6, 2012.
Eric Haynes/Governor Deval Patrick's Office

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:08 am

To shop for health care, it would help to know what childbirth or a CT scan will cost ahead of time. But is it possible to actually list prices for medical procedures? And will patients armed with the information look for bargains when they seek care?

Massachusetts is trying to find out. Since Jan. 1, hospitals and doctors there have been required to tell patients how much things cost, if they ask. It's part of the state's health care cost control law. We set out to run a test.

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The Salt
11:28 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Nutrition Labels To Get Long-Overdue Tweaks

Nutrition labels will be getting a makeover this week to make it easier for consumers to understand the information.
Larry Crowne AP

If you're perplexed about how to make healthy choices when you're shopping for food, you're not alone. We've all puzzled over a food label that was confusing and hard to follow.

But some help may be on the way, as I reported on All Things Considered Tuesday.

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Shots - Health News
10:58 am
Wed February 26, 2014

One Last Journey For Organ Donors Speeds Transplants

Now Dr. Majilla Doyle's organ donors come to her.
Robert J. Boston Washington University School Of Medicine

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:26 am

If Dr. Majella Doyle is your surgeon, it means that something very bad or very good has just happened to you.

Doyle is a liver transplant specialist. For years that meant she had her bag packed, ready to fly or drive to wherever an organ donor lay on life support. That could easily mean eight hours of travel. And that was just the start.

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It's All Politics
9:52 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Lobbyists Amp Up Efforts To Sell Washington On E-Cigarettes

Blair Roberts, a 22-year-old sales associate at Colorado E-Smokes, "vapes" with an electronic cigarette in the Aurora, Colo., store. In the absence of federal rules, Colorado is among states that considered its own age requirements for the nicotine-delivery devices.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 4:57 pm

In a scene from the new season of the popular Netflix political drama House of Cards, the elegant Claire Underwood catches her soon-to-be vice president husband puffing an e-cigarette.

"You're cheating," she says, referring to their efforts to quit smoking.

"No, I'm not," Congressman Francis Underwood replies. "It's vapor ... addiction without the consequences."

A Washington-based drama with an implicit endorsement of "vaping" β€” the practice of partaking in nicotine without burning tobacco?

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Health
5:37 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Critics Question FDA's Approval Of Zohydro

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 6:43 am

Prominent universities and drug addiction organizations are asking the FDA to reconsider its approval of a controversial painkiller called Zohydro. It's 10 times more powerful than OxyContin.

Shots - Health News
3:19 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

For Those Unable To Talk, A Machine That Speaks Their Voice

Carl Moore, a former helicopter mechanic, was diagnosed with ALS 20 years ago. He has had unusual longevity for someone with ALS but expects someday to rely on his wheelchair and speech-generating device.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:26 am

It's hard to imagine a more devastating diagnosis than ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease. For most people, it means their nervous system is going to deteriorate until their body is completely immobile. That also means they'll lose their ability to speak.

So Carl Moore of Kent, Wash., worked with a speech pathologist to record his own voice to use later β€” when he can no longer talk on his own.

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The Salt
2:34 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

New Rules Would Curb How Kids Are Sold Junk Food At School

Michelle Obama eats lunch with school children at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., in 2012. The first lady unveiled new guidelines Tuesday aimed at cracking down on the marketing of junk food to kids during the school day.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 2:06 pm

If you want to teach kids to adopt healthier eating habits, it's probably unwise to give them coupons for fast food chains at school.

And those advertisements for sugary sodas on the gymnasium scoreboard? Seems like another mixed message schools are sending kids.

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