Health Desk

In the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails to be released, there was a list of topics that she presumably wanted to look into some more, dated Oct. 18, 2010. One line in particular stood out: "Plumpy'nut?"

You may be wondering: Plumpy what?

For those who work in global health, the word is instantly recognizable.

Biologist Ethan Bier runs a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where fruit flies are used to help unravel the processes that lead to some human diseases. One day recently, a graduate student in the lab called him over to take a look at the results of the latest experiment.

Bier was stunned by what he saw. "It was one of the most astounding days in my personal scientific career," Bier says. "When he first showed me, I could not believe it."

Kentucky has run one of the most successful Obamacare individual health insurance exchanges, attracting enough people into private health plans and Medicaid to cut the state's uninsured rate by half in two years.

But Kentucky's online health insurance marketplace for small employers also created by the Affordable Care Act has mostly been a dud. Just 92 employers have signed up, and a total of 901 people, both workers and their dependents, have received coverage through the specialized exchange.

The latest front in the debate over religious freedom is all about an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper.

This particular piece of paper is a notice — one the state of California will soon require to be posted in places known as crisis pregnancy centers. These resource centers, often linked to religious organizations, provide low-cost or free services to pregnant women, while encouraging these women to not have abortions.

A group of 12 U.S. senators, led by Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., is calling for the Army inspector general to investigate the discharges of tens of thousands of service members diagnosed with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

In January 2013, a 41-year-old man came to a hospital in Medellin, Colombia. He was in bad shape. He'd lost weight, had a fever, a tapeworm infestation and also had trouble breathing. He had HIV but had stopped taking his medications a few months before.

A brain system that helps us find our way to the supermarket may also help us navigate a lifetime of memories.

At least that's the implication of a study of rats published in the journal Neuron.

It found that special brain cells that track an animal's location also can track time and distance. This could explain how rat and human brains are able to organize memories according to where and when an event occurred.

Earlier this year, Victor Barillas decided to get on the HIV prevention pill called Truvada. When taken every day, the pill is nearly 100 percent effective in blocking the transmission of HIV, even through unprotected sex.

About one out of every six Americans has some form of neck pain, and chronic sufferers have few treatment options. But acupuncture or the Alexander technique, a system for adjusting posture, could provide some long-term relief for chronic neck pain.

Typical care for neck or back pain often involves some pain medication and visits to a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon or chiropractor. For chronic pain, the kind that sticks around year after year, these mainstream treatment options can be a bit ineffective.

"I was 'smart' but I wanted to be 'cool.' "

"Hurricane Katrina hit."

"I was alone and homeless."

These are a few of the more than 1,000 thoughts that our audience shared when we asked them, "What was the hardest thing about being 15?"

Tribal Clinic Deploys A Gym To Fend Off Diabetes

Nov 4, 2015

Johnny Gonzales kneels next to his client, Jorje Mendez, who is struggling through the last set of pushups at the gym.

"Give me eight of them!" says Gonzales. "Be strict. This is where all the gains are made, right here. If you can do this, you can do anything!"

It's a pretty typical gym in an atypical setting. Gonzales works with patients of the Lake County Tribal Health Clinic, in Lakeport, Calif., and the gym is within the clinic itself.

People who suffer from the condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome are accustomed to being dismissed by health care professionals and to only occasional mentions of their condition in the media. These past few weeks have been a notable exception, but with quite different conversations going on in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Sheena Calliham is all too aware of statistics showing that millennials have less job security and more student debt than their parents.

"Student loan debt is a primary financial stressor and concern for my generation," she says, "and we've also faced a challenging job market."

In Peru, Folk Remedies Like Frog Smoothies Are Comfort Food

Nov 3, 2015

In Lima's Mercado de las Brujas, or witches market, Peruvians gather to dicker for talismans and ancient medicines. Giant slugs larger than a water bottle sweat sticky slime. Dried llama fetuses hang from the ceiling, their shriveled, eyeless bodies pointed skyward.

When you're a nationwide food company, it can be tough to live up to your own lofty marketing slogans.

Chipotle claims to serve only "food with integrity." But some of that food, it appears, may have infected a couple of dozen customers in Oregon and Washington state with E. coli bacteria over the past week or so.

Ohio voters will decide Tuesday on whether or not to legalize marijuana in the state — if approved, it would become the fifth state in the country to do so.

On the ballot are dueling Issues 2 and 3, proposed state constitutional amendments. Issue 3 would allow medical and recreational use for people 21 and over. Issue 2 would ban commercial monopolies from being written into the Constitution. That initiative was pushed by lawmakers in response to Issue 3, which would give 10 sites exclusive rights to grow the drug commercially.

On a recent episode of What's Up Africa, comedian Ikenna Azuike is pointing out a statement by Tunisian transportation minister Mahmoud Romdhane that wearing a hijab reduces hearing by 30 percent and is therefore dangerous.

Prescription drug use is rising across the United States. More people are taking medications and they're taking more of them.

A study published Tuesday by researchers at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that 59 percent of adults used a prescription drug in a 30-day period. That's up from just 50 percent when the survey was last conducted a decade earlier.

The open enrollment window for health insurance is open. As of Sunday, people could start shopping for coverage through the state and federal marketplaces. Naturally, when the options are on the table (or screen), questions pop up about how the buying process works and how to choose the best plan. Here are some recent questions and answers.

I like the low premiums of marketplace plans with high deductibles, but even though I'm pretty healthy, I'm worried about having to pay for everything until I meet that deductible. Is there any way around that?

Memorial Health System

An addition to the health care skyline in Springfield is Memorial Medical Center's new patient tower.

Women's shoes are often objects of self-expression.

Bold, business-like, laid-back, sexy, sporty — there's a shoe to match.

As women age, however, comfort starts to compete with style.

I remember my grandma taking me by the hand, years ago, and leading me upstairs to her closet, where clear plastic boxes of shoes were stacked, floor to ceiling.

There were hundreds of heels in animal prints, bright colors, feathers — pointy-toed and at least 3 inches high.

Lots of you have told us that the dinner scramble is tough.

As a culture, we aspire to sit-down, home-cooked meals. But we often don't have the time or energy to pull them off.

From El Salvador to Lebanon to Nepal, NPR has been exploring the lives of 15-year-old girls around the world. But what's it like to be 15 in the U.S.? To find out, NPR's Michel Martin spoke with three sophomore girls at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md.

The use of fear in public health campaigns has been controversial for decades. A campaign with gruesome photos of a person dying of lung cancer to combat smoking might make people think twice about lighting up. But opponents would argue that the photos are too visceral, along with being morally objectionable.

A decades-long decline in the death rate of middle-aged white Americans has reversed in recent years, according to a surprising new analysis released Monday.

The cause of the reversal remains unclear. Researchers speculate it might be the result of the bad economy fueling a rise in suicides, plus overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, and alcohol abuse.

Not long ago, I tried a new kind of Doritos tinted a shade of orange that I'll wager does not exist in the vegetable world. These JACKED Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored chips were so intensely tinted that after four chips, I had to stop eating them. My mind simply wouldn't accept them as food.

What was behind that exceedingly bold hue of orange? Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, according to the label.

When Sani Muntari was 2 years old, he loved to run around and play games with his older siblings and cousins.

They lived in Sokoto, a hot, dusty city in northern Nigeria known for its deep Islamic roots. Sometimes, Muntari would go with his mother to the central market where she worked as a trader, peddling everything from vegetables to T-shirts to soap.

Texas' Changing Relationship To Obamacare

Nov 2, 2015

The online federal insurance marketplace opened for business Sunday. It's the third year of open enrollment for these subsidized plans, established by the Affordable Care Act. Many Texans still oppose the law, even though the state is home to the most uninsured people in the country.

Each year, nearly three times as many Americans die from suicide as from homicide. More Americans kill themselves than die from breast cancer.

As Dr.Thomas Insel, longtime head of the National Institute of Mental Health, prepared to step down from his job in October, he cited the lack of progress in reducing the number of suicides as his biggest disappointment. While the homicide rate in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent since the early 1990s, the suicide rate is higher than it was a decade ago.

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

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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