Health Desk

Shots - Health News
2:48 am
Wed February 5, 2014

A Denver Family Of Doctors Has Seen Medicine Transformed

Michael Sawyer, the latest doctor in his family, holds a portrait of his grandfather Dr. Ken Sawyer, while his father Robert, a surgeon, looks on.
Barry Gutierrez for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:06 am

What it means to be a doctor in America is changing.

The Affordable Care Act is one reason. But the federal health overhaul is just the latest factor among many that have affected the practice of medicine.

Just ask Drs. Robert and Michael Sawyer, a father and son in a family that has worked at Denver Health since the 1930s.

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Shots - Health News
6:20 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Cancer Cases Rising At An Alarming Rate Worldwide

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the West, while lung and liver cancers are the top problems in Asia.
Courtesy of the World Health Organization

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 7:20 am

As countries modernize around the world, they're increasingly being hit with one of the curses of wealth: cancer.

There are about 14 million new cancer cases globally each year, the World Health Organization reported Monday. And the trend is only getting worse.

The global burden of cancer will grow by 70 percent over the next two decades, the WHO predicts, with an estimated 22 million new cases and 13 million deaths each year by 2032.

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It's All Politics
6:19 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

More Access To Health Care Means Millions Can Quit Or Cut Hours

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman at a White House press briefing Tuesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 7:59 am

What might have been a routine update on the state of the federal budget Tuesday instead became the newest front in the ongoing political war over President Obama's signature health care law.

At issue: a revised estimate about how many people would voluntarily leave the workforce because they can get health care without necessarily holding down a job.

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Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Spike In Heroin Use Can Be Traced To Prescription Pads

Experts say today's heroin problem can be traced back to the aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs like OxyContin about 15 years ago.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 7:02 pm

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has brought attention to a grim reality of drug abuse in America — most notably with the increasing use of heroin.

Hoffman was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, and New York police are investigating his death as a possible drug overdose. Hoffman struggled with drug addiction throughout his career.

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Health Care
5:12 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Is Obamacare A Job Killer? New Estimates Suggest It Might Be

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 7:00 pm

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.

Health
5:12 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

A Report From The Front Lines Of Heroin Addiction Treatment

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 7:00 pm

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.

The Two-Way
5:10 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

The View From Down There: FDA Approves Pill Cam For Colon Exams

Outfitted with two color cameras that run on batteries, the PillCam Colon capsule is being billed as a less invasive and less expensive option to a colonoscopy.
Given Imaging

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.

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Shots - Health News
3:50 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Higher Blood Pressure At 18 Means Hardening Arteries At 40

Even if you're under 25, you should still know your blood pressure, a study says.
Rudyanto Wijaya iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 1:41 pm

Young people in their teens and early 20s probably aren't thinking about heart disease. But maybe it's time they did.

People who have slightly higher blood pressure when they're 18 to 25 are more likely to have high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries in their 40s, a study says. About one quarter of the people in this study were in that group.

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The Salt
3:41 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Sweet Tooth Gone Bad: Why 22 Teaspoons Of Sugar Per Day Is Risky

Even seemingly healthful foods can contain unexpected spoonfuls of sugar.
Meg Vogel/NPR

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 7:00 pm

We've written lots lately about the potentially addictive qualities of sugar and the public policy efforts to limit consumption.

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Shots - Health News
3:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Are We Paying $8 Billion Too Much For Mammograms?

Some of the money spent on annual mammograms might do more good if it went toward risk-based screening, a doctor says.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 5:09 pm

The question of how often women should get mammograms remains contested, with advisory panels and medical societies disagreeing on how early and how often they should be used to find breast cancer.

But those discussions rarely mention cost. And the financial implications are huge.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
NIH

The National Institutes of Health is teaming up with major drug companies in a new effort to identify disease-related molecules and biological processes that could lead to future medicines.

The public-private partnership is called AMP, for the "Accelerating Medicines Partnership," and it will focus first on Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, and two autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

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It's All Politics
2:23 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Surgeon General Pick's Tweets Annoy GOP, But Not Enough To Block Him

Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. surgeon general, testifies Tuesday on Capitol Hill before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:50 am

Boston physician Vivek Murthy was expected to run into political headwinds Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing for the post of the nation's top doc — surgeon general.

Murthy, 36, the founder of a national physicians group that worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, was seen by some as vulnerable to GOP attacks because of his political work, his youth and his less-than-a-lifetime of public health experience — not to mention a few impolitic tweets guaranteed to rile conservatives.

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On Aging
11:58 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Not Dead Yet: Aging Parents Also Struggle With Caretaking

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 1:21 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
11:06 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Marketplace Rules Could Hurt Assistance Programs For Costly Drugs

There's confusion about whether drugmakers can provide financial assistance to patients who buy health insurance on the exchanges.
Roel Smart iStockphoto

People who need expensive drugs to treat serious medical conditions often rely on drugmakers' assistance programs for help.

But it's uncertain whether the help will be allowed for people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces established by the federal health law.

With open enrollment ending in less than two months, federal rules remain unclear, leaving patients, advocates and drug programs in limbo.

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Parenting
10:57 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Calling Kids With Disabilities 'Heroes' Can Be Damaging, Says Parent

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 1:21 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms or dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. And if you're a parent, you've probably enjoyed moments when your child is praised for something - a teacher calling her smart or another mom saying he's so well behaved.

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Afghanistan
2:48 am
Tue February 4, 2014

An Afghan Success Story: Fewer Child Deaths

A young girl receives a polio vaccine at the Isteqlal hospital in Kabul on Sept.19, 2011.
Adek Berry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:12 am

One of the most dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban is the increase in average life expectancy from 45 to 62 years. That gain is almost entirely a function of reductions in child mortality due to the spread of basic health services.

Yet Afghanistan still has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, and there could be significant backsliding as the international community reduces aid after NATO troops withdraw at the end of this year.

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Shots - Health News
2:45 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Wanna Smoke? It Could Cost You A Tooth, FDA Warns Teens

Smoking can mess up your looks, according to an ad campaign aimed at keeping teens from smoking.
Courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:12 am

When it comes to persuading teenagers not to smoke, you have to think short-term, the Food and Drug Administration says.

"While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday before unveiling the agency's first-ever anti-smoking campaign.

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Law
3:52 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Undermanned And Limited, Chemical Safety Board Confronts A Crisis

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:33 pm

Transcript

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: I'm Brian Naylor in Washington.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

HPV Vaccine Doesn't Promote Riskier Sexual Behavior In Teens

A 13-year-old girl gets an HPV vaccination at the University of Miami in 2011. The vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 3:00 pm

More than a few parents have worried that the HPV vaccine might encourage girls to be more sexually active.

But girls say that's not so, even if they think, wrongly, that the HPV vaccine protects them against other sexually transmitted diseases.

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Shots - Health News
1:33 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Inexpensive Aquarium Bubbler Saves Preemies' Lives

A nurse attaches the low-cost breathing machine (far left) to an infant at The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.
Jocelyn Brown Rice University

There's only one thing better than having a good idea, and that's having a good idea that really works.

Earlier this year, I reported on some students at Rice University who had designed a low-cost medical device to help premature infants breathe.

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Shots - Health News
10:18 am
Mon February 3, 2014

10 Places Where Health Insurance Costs The Most

Health insurance premiums in Aspen, Colo., are among the highest in the country.
Andrew Wilz AP

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 1:12 pm

If you are buying health coverage in the Colorado ski resort towns, the Connecticut suburbs of New York City or a bunch of otherwise low-cost rural regions of Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada, you have the misfortune of living in the most expensive insurance marketplaces under the new health law.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Mon February 3, 2014

What's Good For Baby Camels Could Be Good For Human Skin

Camels in Jordan supply the milk for a Missouri startup's skin-care line. The company is studying the milk's anti-inflammatory properties.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 3:17 pm

In parts of the Middle East, people drink camel's milk for its nutritional value. It boasts more vitamin C and iron than cow's milk, and it's lower in fat. But in the American Midwest, some people are rubbing camel's milk on their skin — in the form of a skin-care line from Jordan.

Penelope Shihab is the founder of a biotech company in Jordan — and the woman behind the Missouri startup that's working on the skin-care products.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Most Teens Aren't Active Enough, And It's Not Always Their Fault

The CDC would be happy with these guys, who were playing in Birmingham, Ala., in July 2013. Teenage boys say basketball is their favorite activity.
Mark Almond AL.COM /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:43 am

Sure, you think, my kid's on a football team. That takes care of his exercise needs, right? Probably not.

"There are these bursts of activity," says Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "But if you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play."

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Young Athletes Risk Back Injury By Playing Too Much

A West Coast team player kicks the ball during a match at the Adidas Challenges America's Youth Soccer Stars tournament in Venice, Calif.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 8:27 am

Jack Everett sat on his living room couch wearing a back brace, eyes glued to a massive TV set playing his favorite video game, NHL 2013.

"I'm the Boston Bruins," the 10-year-old said as he deftly worked the video controls. "The guy that just shot was Milan Lucic. He's a really good guy on our team."

Whether at home or during recess at his elementary school in suburban Los Angeles, Jack's young life now is about sitting still.

"Well, I can eat lunch with friends, and I play cards," Jack says. But his classmates are out running and jumping outside.

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Shots - Health News
4:45 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Abortions Reportedly Drop To Lowest Rate Since 1970s

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 10:39 am

Abortions in the U.S. resumed their downward trend between 2008 and 2011, according to a new study. But its authors say the recent surge of state laws intended to restrict the procedure is likely not the reason.

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Around the Nation
4:20 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

The Brutal Business Of Heroin Brings Wave Of Overdoses In Pa.

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 5:42 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Drug-related deaths are scarring families and communities across the country. The area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been hit especially hard. Twenty-two people have died there in less than two weeks, the latest in a wave of heroin overdoses. Police in Western Pennsylvania are blaming the deaths on an especially potent form of the street drug. After testing, they determined the heroin had been mixed with a prescription painkiller known as Fentanyl.

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Shots - Health News
11:55 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Poll: Support For High School Football, Despite Concussion Risks

Most Americans are aware that football carries a risk of concussions. An NPR poll found a large proportion of people believe safety improvements are needed for football to remain a high school sport.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:26 pm

Making sure that children are active often means getting them interested in sports. But parents have to weigh the health risks of those sports, including hits that can cause concussions.

Concussions are brain injuries. Most people, including kids, recover from a concussion. But concussions, particularly repeated ones, can lead to serious, lasting health problems.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close: Fans Risk Hearing Loss

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:48 am

For diehard football fans, nothing beats screaming your lungs out in the stadium alongside tens of thousands of other fans.

There is, however, a downside: hearing loss.

With the battle among fans to be the loudest crowd getting almost as competitive as the NFL itself, hearing experts say it's time for a serious conversation about the damage caused by crowd noise.

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Health
4:56 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With 'Desperation'

Sean Morey, then with the Arizona Cardinals, celebrates after blocking a punt against the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. Morey, who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, retired from the NFL in 2010 on the advice of doctors.
Stephen Dunn Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:51 pm

The home of Sean Morey bears the impressive signposts of his 10-year career in the NFL: a Vince Lombardi trophy for his Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. A hefty Super Bowl ring. A framed photograph showing Morey in midair, launching himself like a missile to block a punt. With that play in 2008, his Arizona Cardinals became the only team in NFL history to win a game in overtime with a blocked punt.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

More Republicans Push For Fixing, Not Repealing, Obamacare

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:51 pm

A rift is growing between Tea Party activists and other Republicans over health care.

Some influential conservatives are now saying the Affordable Care Act is too entrenched to repeal.

Take the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an influential business lobbying group. When the ACA passed in 2010, the chamber got behind the lawsuit to fight it at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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