Health Desk

Health
10:55 am
Fri March 28, 2014

West Africans Worried About Ebola Outbreak

The deadly Ebola outbreak in the West African country of Guinea has reached the nation's capital. Now healthcare officials are scrambling for answers. Dr. Armand Sprecher explains.

Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Obamacare's National Enrollment Looks OK, But States Matter More

Maygan Rollins, a field organizer with Enroll America, talked health insurance options with Jerry Correa during a recent campaign in Miami.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 11:23 pm

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

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The Salt
2:27 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Why We Got Fatter During The Fat-Free Food Boom

The 1990s were rife with low-fat packaged snacks, from potato chips to cookies.
Youtube and RetroJunk

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:24 am

If you want to trace Americans' fear of fat, the place to start is the U.S. Senate, during the steamy days of July 1976.

That's when Sen. George McGovern called a hearing to raise attention to the links between diet and disease.

And what was the urgency? The economy was booming, and many Americans were living high on the hog. A 1954 Capitol Hill restaurant menu offers a glimpse of what lunch looked like then: steak with claret sauce, buttered succotash and pineapple cheesecake. But soon, that prosperity began to cast a dark shadow within the halls of Congress.

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The Changing Lives Of Women
5:31 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Women And Wealth: Local To Global Money Lessons

She Works Her Money." href="/post/women-and-wealth-local-global-money-lessons" class="noexit lightbox">
Our Women and Wealth series will involve you, too. We're asking women to share their best lessons about earning, saving, investing or using money. The above quote comes from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. You can see more from her, and other influential women, and add your two cents at our Tumblr, She Works Her Money.
NPR

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:39 pm

When it comes to money, women rule. Literally.

Think about it: A woman holds the top job at the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Social Security Administration.

At the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is the managing director.

These women run large, complex organizations that decide how money is invested, budgeted, saved and spent. They shape the rules that govern the global economy.

But over on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, men still do more risk-taking.

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Shots - Health News
5:25 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Southeast Asia Free Of Polio As India Declares Health Victory

Eight-year-old Manish, who caught polio years ago, learns to walk with leg braces at a rehabilitation center in New Delhi on Thursday.
Manish Swarup AP

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 5:08 pm

A watershed moment occurred in global health Thursday: The World Health Organization said that its Southeast Asian region is now officially polio-free.

The milestone means that 80 percent of the world's population now lives without fear of the paralyzing disease.

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Shots - Health News
5:25 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

How Being Ignored Helped A Woman Discover The Breast Cancer Gene

Mary-Claire King says obscurity gave her the freedom to spend years looking for breast cancer genes.
Mary Levin/University of Washington

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 8:17 am

Back in the 1970s, a geneticist named Mary-Claire King decided she needed to figure out why women in some families were much more likely to get breast cancer.

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Shots - Health News
3:36 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch

The research team used yeast chromosome No. 3 as the model for their biochemical stitchery. Pins and white diamonds in the illustration represent "designer changes" not found in the usual No. 3; yellow stretches represent deletions.
Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:03 pm

Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.

It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.

This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Each chromosome is an enormous molecule of DNA packed in proteins.

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The Two-Way
2:47 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Obamacare Enrollment Exceeds 6 Million

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

With the enrollment deadline looming, the Obama administration says 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the exchanges set up by the federal government.

"With 4 days left for consumers to sign up for coverage, we are working hard to ensure that our systems can handle the unprecedented demand as people enroll before the March 31 deadline," Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Jump In Autism Cases May Not Mean It's More Prevalent

State numbers on autism probably don't accurately reflect children's health status, researchers say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 3:39 pm

The government's latest estimate shows that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. That's a remarkable jump from just two years ago, when the figure was 1 in 88, and an even bigger jump from 2007, when it was just 1 in 150.

But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the agency's skyrocketing estimates don't necessarily mean that kids are more likely to have autism now than they were 10 years ago.

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Shots - Health News
11:52 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Marathon Training Lowers Heart Disease Risk In Middle-Aged Men

Runners head out during the start of the 115th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2011, in Hopkinton, Mass.
Elsa Garrison/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 8:48 pm

It seems like every cubicle dweller I know is training for a marathon. But then there are those tragic headlines about middle-aged runners keeling over dead at the finish line. Is this really a good idea?

Marathon training actually reduces a person's cardiovascular risk, according to a study presented Thursday at the American College of Cardiology's scientific sessions in Washington, D.C. That's true even if they're just average recreational runners, not elite athletes.

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Shots - Health News
9:41 am
Thu March 27, 2014

A Booming Economy Doesn't Save Children From Malnutrition

Indian schoolchildren wait in line for food at a government primary school in Hyderabad, India. Consistent access to nutritious food and clean water is key to helping children thrive, researchers say.
Noah Seelam AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 10:29 am

Lack of food is the leading cause of child death worldwide, killing 3.1 million children each year and accounting for 45 percent of all child mortality.

Undernourished children who survive still face a daunting future, including reduced intellectual capacity and a higher risk of disease and disability. And while economic growth is presumed to get more children fed, a booming economy alone doesn't fix the problem, researchers say.

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Shots - Health News
5:30 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Brain Changes Suggest Autism Starts In The Womb

Researchers say intervention in early childhood may help the developing brain compensate by rewiring to work around the trouble spots.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 10:03 am

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.

Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that's critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn't have those characteristic patches.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

That Health Insurance Deadline Now Comes With Wiggle Room

Christine Moyer checks out options at a health insurance enrollment fair on March 18 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:24 pm

We're just five days away from the March 31 deadline to sign up for individual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. For weeks, administration officials, including the president, have insisted that there would be no extensions to the scheduled end of the six-month open enrollment period.

But now there's some wiggle room. Let's review, shall we?

Start with the key question: Is Monday still the deadline?

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Shots - Health News
1:32 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

A 'Silent Killer' Returns: Live Chat With Filmmaker On Fighting TB

Nokubheka, 12, had to move away from her family and into a hospital for treatment against drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Screenshot from PBS/YouTube

The world has a new epidemic on its hand: drug-resistant tuberculosis.

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Shots - Health News
1:20 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Therapists' Apps Aim To Help With Mental Health Issues

The ReliefLink app is a mood-tracking tool intended to help people who are contemplating suicide.
Courtesy of Emory University

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 1:53 pm

Games like Flappy Bird and Candy Crush have helped many of us de-stress during long waits at the doctor's office and crowded Metro rides. But what if an app could actually help with mental health?

Researchers from Hunter College and the City University of New York say they've developed an app that can reduce anxiety.

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Shots - Health News
11:01 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:24 pm

Hospital-acquired infections continue to be a big problem in health care, with 4 percent of patients getting a new infection while hospitalized, a study finds. And 11 percent of those infections turn deadly.

It's the first time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attempted to catalog all hospital infections, not just the infections with germs on their watch list. Researchers surveyed 183 hospitals nationwide, emphasizing smaller community hospitals.

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Shots - Health News
11:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Bogus Pills Found In Bottles Of Weight-Loss Drug In 7 States

The package for the weight-loss drug alli should look like this.
Courtesy of GlaxoSmithKline

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 11:57 am

The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline warned consumers that some lots of alli, its over-the-counter weight loss drug, appear to have been tampered with after people reported finding the wrong pills in bottles.

The bogus pills were found in bottles bought in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Texas, GlaxoSmithKline reported on Wednesday.

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Shots - Health News
9:06 am
Wed March 26, 2014

In California, Asian-Americans Flock To Health Coverage

People of Asian descent are more likely to buy in person from an insurance agent than online.
Covered California

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 8:55 am

While Latino enrollment has lagged in California's insurance marketplace, Asian-Americans and legal Asian immigrants have signed up on Covered California in numbers outstripping their representation in the pool of eligible people.

According to the latest data from the exchange, the overwhelming majority of people of Asian descent are enrolling are doing so through certified insurance agents, as opposed to community groups or the Covered California website.

There is no charge to consumers who work with agents, whose commissions are paid by insurance companies.

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Shots - Health News
5:03 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Most People Don't Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms

Yudelmy Cataneda, Javier Suarez and Claudia Suarez talk with insurance agent Yosmay Valdivian at a session to sign up for health insurance in a Miami mall March 20.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 12:51 pm

Next week is the last chance for most people without insurance to sign up for individual health coverage for the remainder of 2014.

Yet according to the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of those without coverage still don't know that.

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Shots - Health News
4:22 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Thinking Of Retiring? Consider Your Health

Manuel "Manny" Aguirre, 80, has been mixing cocktails at Musso and Frank Grill in Los Angeles for more than two decades. He works part time and could retire — but he doesn't want to.
Courtesy of Musso and Frank Grill

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:49 pm

The Musso and Frank Grill is a cherished time warp in Los Angeles. Once inside, you're in old Hollywood: The place is all dim lighting and curved booths, with a soundtrack featuring every song you ever heard in a black-and-white movie. It's a steak-and-martini kind of place.

And the guy who makes those famous martinis is Manuel "Manny" Aguirre. He's been mixing cocktails for 55 years, more than two decades of that behind the long bar here. He just turned 80 and could retire if he wanted to.

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Health Care
3:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

90-Day Grace Period Under New Health Law Has Insurers Flustered

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 5:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

If you're late paying your health insurance premium, how long can you delay before your policy is canceled? Most insurance companies will give customers a 30-day grace period on the faith that they'll pay up by the end of the month. But that is changing under the Affordable Care Act. The law extends that grace period to 90 days for some new insurance policies. And as Eric Whitney reports, insurance companies, doctors, and state regulators are all confused about what exactly that means.

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News
3:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Justices Divide By Gender In Hobby Lobby Contraception Case

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 8:12 pm

There was a clear difference of opinion between male and female justices at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The issue was whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to include contraception coverage in the basic health plan now mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

The female justices were clearly supportive of the contraception mandate, while a majority of the male justices were more skeptical.

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Global Health
3:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

The Sources And Symptoms Of A Disease With A Global Reputation

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Some facts now about the Ebola virus. It was discovered in 1976 after an outbreak in Zaire, which was the name then of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are five strains, named for the site of the outbreak where they were first identified. So the outbreak in Guinea is of the Zaire strain. The other strains are Sudan, Ivory Coast, Bundibugyo - that's in Uganda - and Reston. That's in northern Virginia.

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News
3:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Facing Ebola Outbreak, Officials Must Contain Both Virus And Panic

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Dozens of deaths are reported in Guinea in West Africa, the results of the Ebola virus. Health officials and aid agencies are working to contain both the disease and panic about the outbreak. We'll explore the origins of the deadly virus in a moment. First, NPR Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on the outbreak.

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Shots - Health News
2:58 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Tuberculosis Roars Back With A Deadly Edge

Nokubhega, 12, had to move away from her family and into a hospital for treatment against drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Screenshot from PBS/YouTube

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 10:44 am

Two weeks ago, 12-year-old Nokubheka's mother died from drug-resistant tuberculosis.

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Krulwich Wonders...
2:32 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

You Yawn. She Doesn't Yawn Back. Uh-Oh

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:44 pm

You are at a table for two, sitting with your girlfriend or boyfriend, when, for no good reason (you can't help it, you didn't mean to do it), you yawn. It's a big, gaping, jaw-extending, embarrassing yawn and because you didn't cover your face, oh, God, she/he sees it. A second or two goes by, and then ... something doesn't happen. Your girlfriend/boyfriend doesn't yawn back.

Should you be alarmed?

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Shots - Health News
2:07 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Pollution From Home Stoves Kills Millions Of People Worldwide

Many people like these Tibetans in Qinghai, China, rely on indoor stoves for heating and cooking. That causes serious health problems.
Courtesy of One Earth Designs

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 3:35 pm

Air pollution has become the world's largest environmental risk, killing an estimated 7 million people in 2012, the World Health Organization says.

That means about 1 out of every 8 deaths in the world each year is due to air pollution. And half of those deaths are caused by household stoves, according to the WHO report published Tuesday.

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Shots - Health News
1:45 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Wal-Mart Recalls 'Cuddle Care' Dolls Because They Can Burn

She coughs and sometimes burns.
CPSC

You had better not cuddle up with the My Sweet Love/My Sweet Baby Cuddle Care Baby Doll from Wal-Mart.

First of all, she gets sick on cue. The battery-powered doll coughs and babbles. Her cheeks flush, too.

You can make her better with a medical kit that includes a syringe, stethoscope and thermometer. After you give her a shot and a spoonful of medicine, she's as good as new.

But it turns out that she could give you symptoms of your own.

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Health
10:25 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Why Alzheimer's Hits Women Harder

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
9:42 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Can Fear Of Cancer Keep College Kids From Binge Drinking?

They're probably not thinking about breast cancer risk right now.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 4:26 pm

Many college students associate a good time with good friends, good music and good booze. But with half of all college drinkers engaging in binge drinking, the habit remains one of the biggest health risks among young adults.

Campaigns that tackle this problem often focus on familiar risks like drunken driving, unsafe sex and even death, but researchers say that warning students about the lesser-known link between alcohol and cancer may also be a new approach for deterring binge drinking.

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