Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:50 pm
Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.
But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.
If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too.
On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury.
The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.
It also includes a familiar annual rider â€” language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.
By some estimates, we Americans throw away about 40 percent of our food, from the cabbage that's wilting in our refrigerators, to the fruit that's falling off the orange tree in our neighbor's backyard.
There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline â€” the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.
After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.
And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:17 pm
We're all supposed to be eating right, but most of us are not doing a very good job of that.
Could you eat an apple a day?
Adding in that one piece of fruit could improve cardiovascular health on a par with prescribing of cholesterol-lowering statins for everyone over age 50, according to a report published Tuesday in BMJ.
If you're lucky enough to be heading down to the Caribbean this winter for snorkeling, daiquiris and a kick of vitamin D, you should probably think about packing long-sleeve shirts and bug repellent â€” especially if you'll be spending time on the island of St. Martin.
Reports show former Major League Baseball player Ryan Freel, who took his own life last year, suffered from a degenerative brain disease. Injuries like that are usually associated with the hard knocks of football. Host Michel Martin talks with sports writer Pablo Torre about the prevalence of brain injuries in other sports.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:37 am
In recent months, NPR staff has published a series of questions-and-answer stories related to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Now we've compiled them into an interactive so you can explore answers that are most relevant to you.
There are nearly 80 questions, ranging from who's eligible to how much insurance might cost, among two dozen topics. Filter the list by selecting categories or asking questions.
California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world. But many farmworkers struggle to feed their families fresh and healthy food because they can't afford to buy the produce that grows all around them.
The Ortiz family in Raisin City, Calif., faces this very problem.
Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies â€” and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.
Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The government's health insurance website has a new Mr. Fixit. The Obama administration has hired a former Microsoft executive to oversee improvements. Kurt DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, the former management consultant and White House staffer who was brought in in late October to help turn the troubled website around.
News of DelBene's appointment comes as President Obama met today with a group of high tech CEOs. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.
As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.
Dahab, Egypt, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, is perfect for free-diving. A diver can have tea in a simple beach cafe and then take just a handful of steps into the Gulf of Aqaba, where the seafloor plunges more than 100 yards into a wine-glass-shaped blue hole.
A decade ago, President George W. Bush announced an unprecedented global health initiative: $15 billion over five years to fight HIV in developing countries.
"There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims â€” only 50,000 â€” are receiving the medicine they need."
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:57 am
When I was growing up my mom gave me a multivitamin every day as a defense against unnamed dread diseases.
But it looks like Mom was wasting her money. Evidence continues to mount that vitamin supplements don't help most people and can actually cause diseases that people are taking them to prevent, like cancer.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later this hour, we're going to deal with some common holiday dilemmas, such as how to deal with tantrums at the mall, how to deal with people who get a little too cute at a holiday gathering and how to move your spending habits from the naughty to nice column, at least for next year. That's all coming up.
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 in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Today, we're talking about something we've all seen and perhaps experienced. Here it is.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:58 am
Around a million people get hip or knee replacements a year, and those operations cost Medicare and private insurers a lot of money. For the first time, the federal government is evaluating how good a job individual hospitals are doing.
Medicare has identified 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks and another 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. (It's a long list that you can sift through here.)
When Dr. Tim Ihrig crosses the threshold of the Avelleyras home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he steps over a doormat that says, "One nice person and one old grouch live here."
It doesn't take long to figure out who the nice person is.
Phyllis Avelleyra grew up on a farm in western Iowa and met her husband, Augie, in "the big city," otherwise known as Fort Dodge. Population 25,000. The couple has been married for 60 years. They have five daughters, the oldest of whom is already a grandmother herself.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:32 pm
In hospitals, people are bathed with soaps containing the antibacterial triclosan to reduce the risk of serious infections in surgery. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should be using triclosan soap in the kitchen and the bathroom, the Food and Drug Administration says.
The agency on Monday took a step toward restricting the use of triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals widely used in soap, deodorant, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:15 am
Children who have irregular bed times are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. A survey of 10,00 children showed that irregular bedtimes are linked with difficulties such as hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn. Researchers think inconsistent bedtimes probably affect young children like jet lag.