Health Desk

Shots - Health News
2:16 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Health Insurance Startup Collapses In Iowa

SukruGoksu iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 2:41 pm

It was a heck of a Christmas for David Fairchild and his wife, Clara Peterson. They found out they were about to lose their new health insurance.

"Clara was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and that's how we found out," Fairchild says. They went to their health plan's website that night. "No information. We still haven't gotten a letter about it from them."

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Technology
6:26 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

New Apps Give Teens Easier, Persistent Access To Mental Help

Sgt. Mark Miranda, a public affairs specialist at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, demonstrates the use of a program in July 2011 that was designed to help calm symptoms of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. A new class of apps is offering more sophisticated mental health help to struggling teens, including emergency, 24/7 connection to counselors.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 5:35 am

Twelve years into a struggle with bulimia and anorexia, Jessie Joachim says she still feels guilty whenever she tells her therapist out loud that she has purged a meal.

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The Salt
1:27 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

How Do We Grow To Like The Foods We Once Hated?

Jasjit Kaur Singh, an Indian chef, cooks kaala channa, a traditional spicy Sikh dish. A psychologist says that children who grow up in cultures with lots of spicy food are taught to like spice early on.
Richard Lautens Toronto Star via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 1:43 pm

Why do some of us like to slather hot sauce or sprinkle chili powder onto our food, while others can't stand burning sensations in our mouth?

It probably has to do with how much we've been socially pressured or taught to eat chili, according to Paul Rozin, a cultural psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied attitudes toward food for decades.

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Shots - Health News
12:00 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

U.S. Funding of Health Research Stalls As Other Nations Rev Up

U.S. funding for medical research by source, 1994-2012. (Data were adjusted to 2012 dollars using the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index.)
American Medical Association

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 7:32 am

Though the United States is still leading the world in research related to diseases, it is rapidly losing its edge, according to an analysis in the American Medical Association's flagship journal JAMA.

If you look at biomedical research around the globe, the United States funded 57 percent of that work a decade ago. The U.S. share has since dropped to 44 percent, according to the study published online Tuesday.

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Goats and Soda
11:08 am
Tue January 13, 2015

'Watch Out, Guinea Worm, Here Comes Jimmy Carter'

On a 2007 visit to Savelugu Hospital in Ghana, President Jimmy Carter asks a group of children if they've had Guinea worm. A raised hand is a yes.
Louise Gubb Courtesy of the Carter Center

This past fall, President Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, celebrated his 90th birthday. Looking ahead, he's also hoping to celebrate the global eradication of Guinea worm disease (also known as dracunculiasis).

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Shots - Health News
10:59 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But Science Can Help

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:57 am

My boyfriend and I were together for over three years, and then we weren't. The days after the breakup involved lots of crying, and an embarrassing amount of Taylor Swift.

A couple of weeks later, once I was able to will myself out of sweatpants, my friend Eric — who was also coping with a breakup — came over for some IPAs and, of course, Taylor Swift singalongs.

We commiserated about how much life sucked, how lonely we felt and how we were losing sleep. We discussed what was wrong in each of our relationships and what was right.

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Shots - Health News
8:20 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Tax Time Gets New Ritual: Proof Of Health Insurance

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 7:32 am

In addition to the normal thrills and chills of the income tax filing season, this year people will have the added excitement of figuring out how the health law figures in their 2014 taxes.

The good news is that for most folks the only change to their filing routine will be to check the box on their Form 1040 that says they had health insurance all year.

"Someone who had employer-based coverage or Medicaid or Medicare, that's all they have to do," says Tricia Brooks, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

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Back At Base
2:35 am
Tue January 13, 2015

VA Data Show Disparities In Veteran Benefits Spending

George Murray, who served in Vietnam, was able to access his medical benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs relatively easily while living in Boston. But veterans living in other parts of Massachusetts, like Cape Cod, have more difficulty. Across the U.S., VA data show the unevenness in its benefit spending.
Jesse Costa WBUR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 10:30 am

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

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The Salt
4:54 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Minifasting: How Occasionally Skipping Meals May Boost Health

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:32 am

If you've ever gone to sleep hungry and then dreamed of chocolate croissants, the idea of fasting may seem completely unappealing.

But what if the payoff for a 16-hour fast — which might involve skipping dinner, save a bowl of broth — is a boost in energy and a decreased appetite?

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Shots - Health News
4:28 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Imagining A Future When The Doctor's Office Is In Your Home

Visitors check out wireless blood pressure monitors at the Consumer Electronics Show in Los Angeles.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:57 am

Extracting medical care from the health care system is all too often an expensive exercise in frustration. Dr. Eric Topol says your smartphone could make it cheaper, faster, better and safer.

That's the gist of his new book, The Patient Will See You Now. Lots of people are bullish on the future of mobile health to transform health care, but Topol gets extra cred because of his major medical chops: Former head of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic and present director of the Scripps Translations Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

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Goats and Soda
2:51 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Donating A Single Rollerblade Is Not Going To Help Disaster Victims

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:09 am

Five years ago today, a massive earthquake rocked the island nation of Haiti. Within hours, Partners in Health, the largest provider of health care in the country and the organization for which I work, was delivering care in Port-au-Prince. The outpouring of support overwhelmed us. By some estimates, half of all American households contributed to the relief effort.

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Shots - Health News
1:07 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Why OCD Is 'Miserable': A Science Reporter's Obsession With Contracting HIV

David Adam is a writer and editor at the journal Nature and was a special correspondent at the Guardian, writing about science, medicine and the environment.
Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:58 am

If you have an obsessive but irrational fear, it would probably be pretty difficult for anyone to talk you out of it. Because irrational fears, by definition, aren't rational, which is one of the reasons having obsessive-compulsive disorder is such a nightmare.

For science reporter David Adam, he's obsessed with HIV.

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The Salt
11:14 am
Mon January 12, 2015

What Might Be Missing From MyPlate? Water

The University of California's Nutrition Policy Institute has proposed that MyPlate include an icon for water.
UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Sometime in the next few weeks, we'll be hearing from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The panel of nutrition experts is tasked with reviewing the latest science on nutrition and medicine and making recommendations on how to update the next version of the federal government's guidance on eating.

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Goats and Soda
10:07 am
Mon January 12, 2015

5 Years After Haiti's Earthquake, Where Did The $13.5 Billion Go?

After the earthquake in 2010, about 1,000 people were living in tents on the median of Highway 2, one of Haiti's busiest roads. Five years later, tens of thousands of people in Port-au-Prince still live in tents and other temporary housing.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 7:39 am

Haiti's magnitude 7.0 earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, left 220,000 people dead, 300,000 injured and rubble nearly everywhere.

The catastrophe also unleashed an unprecedented flood of humanitarian aid — $13.5 billion in donations and pledges, about three-quarters from donor nations and a quarter from private charity.

But today Haiti is a long, long way from realizing the bullish goal of "building back better."

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Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Your Online Avatar May Reveal More About You Than You'd Think

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 9:49 am

My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

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The Salt
2:26 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Iowa's Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers

The city of Des Moines, Iowa, sits on the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. The city's water works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in these waterways.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:09 pm

Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.

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Shots - Health News
2:22 am
Mon January 12, 2015

The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing And Briefly Saved Lives

Semmelweis considered scientific inquiry part of his mission as a physician.
De Agostini Picture Library Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 9:49 am

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

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Goats and Soda
9:55 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Death Becomes Disturbingly Routine: The Diary Of An Ebola Doctor

Protective gloves dry out at a treatment center for Ebola patients in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, about 60 miles from the capital of Freetown. Although the Ebola epidemic is leveling off, new cases are still being reported.
Courtesy of Joel Selanikio

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 10:26 am

Editor's note: Some audiences may find portions of this content disturbing.

The World Health Organization reports that the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone may be leveling off — although nearly 250 new cases were reported there last week.

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Europe
9:43 am
Sun January 11, 2015

Overcrowded Hospitals Overwhelm U.K.'s National Health Service

Emergency workers transport a patient to the Accident and Emergency ward at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. Recently released figures suggest the NHS in England has missed its four-hour A&E waiting time target, with performance dropping to its lowest level for a decade.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 11, 2015 10:26 am

More than a dozen hospitals across Great Britain declared "major incidents" this past week, with non-emergency operations cancelled and extra staff called in to cope with overcrowded emergency rooms. Still, the backlog in waiting rooms keeps growing.

The horror stories just keep coming in: long lines outside emergency departments — just to get into the waiting room — and of hospitals locking their doors to keep new arrivals away.

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On Aging
6:50 am
Sun January 11, 2015

For The Record: Aging Out And Moving On

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 3:13 pm

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
4:19 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

In Oregon, Medicaid Now Covers Transgender Medical Care

When Alexis Paige lost her job, she was afraid she would have to discontinue her estrogen treatments. That can't happen now under the Oregon Health Plan.
Cree Jude Gordon Courtesy Alexis Paige

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 1:17 pm

Oregon began covering the cost of reassignment surgery for transgender people on Medicaid in January. It also covers things like hormone therapy and puberty suppression.

By doing so, Oregon joins a handful of other states that have recently taken steps to help people with gender dysphoria, or the conflict between the gender people identify with and their physical gender.

Some question the validity of coverage, but people in the transgender community are thrilled.

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Goats and Soda
12:03 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

Bill Gates Raises A Glass To (And Of) Water Made From Poop

Bill Gates takes a sip of water that came out of the new Janicki Omniprocessor, which turns human waste into clean drinking water in minutes.
Courtesy of the Gates Foundation

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 11:04 am

In places where fresh water is hard to come by, how do you come up with clean drinking water? Easy — get the water from poop.

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Goats and Soda
4:52 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Back In D.C. From The Ebola Hot Zone, I Broke Out In A Fever

NPR reporters Sami Yenigun and Ofeibea Quist-Arcton at work in Liberia in December.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 1:11 pm

Today is my 22nd day back from Liberia, which, as any reporter or health worker who has been in this Ebola hot zone will tell you, is a good day. Yesterday was the last day that I had to report my temperature to the CDC. I've passed the 21-day incubation period for the virus. My temperature is 98.6 degrees. I'm in the clear.

But three weeks ago, I wasn't feeling so good.

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Shots - Health News
2:46 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Trapped In His Body For 12 Years, A Man Breaks Free

Martin Pistorius sometime between 1990 and 1994, when he was unable to communicate.
Courtesy of Martin Pistorius

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 9:43 am

What would you do if you were locked in your body, your brain intact but with no way to communicate? How do you survive emotionally when you are invisible to everyone you know and love?

That's the first question asked by NPR's new program on human behavior, Invisibilia.

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The Salt
2:09 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Is 'Cook At Home' Always Good Health Advice?

One reason cooking at home might be linked to poor health? Researchers say it could be because there are too many unhealthful baked goods coming out of the oven.
Amriphoto iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 3:48 pm

Author Michael Pollan called home cooking the "single most important thing we could do as a family to improve our health and general well-being" in his 2013 book Cooked.

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Shots - Health News
1:46 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Are Teenagers Capable Of Making Life-Or-Death Decisions?

Cassandra, age 17, is in a Hartford, Conn., hospital where the state is compelling her to undergo cancer treatment.
Cassandra AP

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 8:53 am

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

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Goats and Soda
1:17 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Ebola Vaccine Will Soon Be Tested In West Africa

The windows at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, where Ebola cases are treated, are streaked with chlorinated water as a disinfectant.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Ebola vaccine developers are on track to start testing their products in West Africa in about a month, the World Health Organization said at a press conference today.

And it's a race against the clock — testing will become more challenging if the number of new Ebola cases continues to drop.

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Goats and Soda
12:41 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Why Pygmies Aren't Scared By The 'Psycho' Theme

Men play a struck beau while women and children sing behind them at an Mbenzele Pygymy village.
Nathalie Fernando University of Montreal

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:46 am

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Shots - Health News
9:38 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Poll: Most Americans Would Share Health Data For Research

Older people were less inclined to share anonymized health data, an NPR-Truven Health Analytics poll found.
NPR

Americans, by and large, don't seem all that worried about what happens to the information in their medical records.

A NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll found that data privacy didn't appear to bother most respondents. Privacy worries ran highest for information held by health insurers, but even then only 16 percent of people expressed concern.

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Shots - Health News
3:04 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

How The Skin Disease Psoriasis Costs Us Billions

A patch of psoriasis on an elbow.
iStockphoto

Skin disorders rarely make it on the list of big-time diseases, so when we saw a study saying that psoriasis costs the nation $52 to $63 billion a year, it was hard not to think, "Really?"

And that's just for the direct costs of health care for people with psoriasis, according to the study, published Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology.

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