Tomorrow in Maryland, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration will sit down with other law enforcement groups to talk through some big questions. Tainted heroin has recently killed at least 50 people across several states, and they want to find out where it's coming from. The heroin is laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. While the DEA races to find the drug's source, NPR's Allison Keyes reports community groups are scrambling to warn addicts of the danger.
San Francisco's Chinatown is a city within a city.
Built by immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century, Chinatown was a refuge from the era's vicious prejudice. But the crowded blocks of Chinatown were also a kind of prison.
Chinese residents feared leaving the area after dark, and they were barred from local schools and the city's hospitals — even during an outbreak of bubonic plague in San Francisco. It was painfully clear that when it came to medical care, they had to provide for themselves.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 3:19 pm
Food industry, beware of the power of the online petition.
Just a few days after food blogger Vani Hari, known as Food Babe, created a buzz with an online petition raising questions about the safety of a food additive commonly used in commercial baking, sandwich giant Subway has announced plans to phase it out of its fresh-baked breads.
The additive, azodicarbonamide, is used by the commercial baking industry to bleach flour and condition dough.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 1:26 pm
The teenage years are a tumultuous time, with about 11 percent developing depression by age 18. Lack of sleep may increase teenagers' risk of depression, two studies say.
Teenagers who don't get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorder as their peers who sleep more, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year.
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 4:40 pm
A fried, battered coating can hide a multitude of sins. (Everything tastes yummy when deep-fried, amiright?) So it's not surprising, really, that allegations of "mystery meat" have dogged McDonald's famous chicken McNuggets on and off for years.
Smokers are shrugging off the announcement that CVS will stop selling tobacco products. The company announced the move on Wednesday as part of a strategy to promote healthy choices. But more than half of cigarettes are sold at gas stations, so the company's decision is unlikely to have much of an impact on access to tobacco.
The Congressional Budget Office earlier this week said this year's deficit is likely to be about one-third the size it was in 2009, when the Great Recession bottomed out. A recovering economy is the main reason for the deficit's improvement, but moderating health care costs have also contributed.
Harvard economist and health policy specialist David Cutler says getting the federal government's finances under control is all about health care.
A few days in the dark can improve an animal's hearing, scientists report this week in the journal Neuron. This temporary loss of visual input seems to trigger favorable changes in areas of the brain that process auditory information, they say.
Here's another way congressional Democrats are using the Budget Office report in support of the Affordable Care Act. They're defending an obscure provision in the law that serves to backstop insurance companies participating in the health plan exchanges. And in a flip of party stereotypes, this has Democrats standing up for the insurance companies and Republicans clashing with big business.
On Tuesday, economists with the Congressional Budget Office announced findings that indicated the new health care law may result in hundreds of thousands leaving the workforce. The findings spurred new debate on the merits of the law and its economic impact. NPR's Scott Horsley has more on the reactions to the report.
CVS CEO and President Larry Merlo joins Audie Cornish to discuss his company's big decision to eventually discontinue its sales of tobacco products. The decision didn't simply make headlines on Wednesday; it could also signal a shift in plans for the pharmacy giant's future.
The pharmacy giant CVS plans to eliminate cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores by October. The company says it made the decision because the drug store business is changing and that selling cigarettes is no longer consistent with its mission. Medical experts and the White House hailed the move. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 12:49 pm
Ladies, if that Super Bowl Sunday pitch from '90s heartthrob John Stamos didn't leave you craving more yogurt, here's some science that might do the trick: There's tantalizing new research suggesting that some friendly bacteria commonly found in yogurts may help women shed more weight while on a diet and keep it off.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:04 am
Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.
The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 10:43 am
Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.
Larry Merlo also said CVS will try to help those who want to quit smoking with a "robust national smoking cessation program" at its locations.
The new Congressional Budget Office report gives ammunition to Republicans and puts Democrats on the defensive. It said the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million by the year 2024. But as usual, the truth is more complicated than the headlines and press releases suggest.
Sugar, we all know from early childhood that it's not the best thing to eat, although most of us love it. But a new study hits home why researchers have found that too much of a sweet tooth can be really bad for our hearts. Still, limiting sugar is sometimes easier said than done, because it's added to so many foods we eat. And some of us, even without realizing it, eat an entire day's worth of sugar before we ever leave the house in the morning.
A new front has opened in the political battle over the Affordable Care Act, with Tuesday's release of the Congressional Budget Office's annual budget and economic outlook. The economists updated an earlier estimate about how many workers would leave the workforce because they no longer needed a job to have health care coverage — revising upward from 800,000 people to over 2 million people. Republicans pounced on the higher number, and President Obama now finds himself playing defense.
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose has thrown a spotlight on the rise of heroin use in recent years. Melissa talks to John Venza, vice president at Outreach — a substance abuse treatment agency in New York and Long Island — about heroin addiction and the challenges to staying clean.
Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:43 am
Patients who undergo colon screenings might breathe a little easier now that U.S. regulators have approved a pill containing two cameras. The PillCam Colon is minimally invasive and runs on batteries, its maker says. And as you might imagine, it's disposable.