Health Desk

Medical Treatments
3:33 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Chicago And A Pair Of Counties Bring Lawsuit Against OxyContin Makers

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 6:20 pm

Two California counties and the city of Chicago, hard hit by OxyContin addiction, are suing the drug's manufacturers. Reporter Emily Green says they're charging that the drug-makers have contributed to an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Shots - Health News
12:43 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Costlier Digital Mammograms May Not Be Better For Older Women

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 1:07 pm

Medicare spending on breast cancer screening for women age 65 and older has jumped nearly 50 percent in recent years. But the rise in price was not associated with an improvement in the early detection of breast cancer.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that Medicare spending on breast cancer screening rose from $666 million in the years 2001-2002 to $962 million in the years 2008-2009.

So why the big increases in costs?

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Shots - Health News
12:04 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

With Help From Extinct Humans, Tibetans Adapted To High Altitude

A mother and daughter herd their yaks along a highway on the Tibetan plateau.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 4:15 pm

At an altitude of nearly 3 miles, the Tibetan plateau is an extreme place to live. It's cold, it's hard to grow food, and there's about 40 percent less oxygen in the air than there is at sea level.

Somehow, though, native Tibetans are adapted to it. Their bodies — and their blood in particular — work differently than those of people used to lower altitudes. The Tibetans' advantage might be thanks to an ancient inheritance.

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Shots - Health News
10:37 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Easy Method For Making Stem Cells Was Too Good To Be True

The heart beats in a mouse embryo grown with stem cells made from blood. Now the research that claimed a simple acid solution could be used to create those cells has been retracted.
Courtesy of Haruko Obokata

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 10:21 am

A prestigious scientific journal Wednesday took the unusual step of retracting some high-profile research that had generated international excitement about stem cell research.

The British scientific journal Nature retracted two papers published in January by scientists at the Riken research institute in Japan and at Harvard Medical School that claimed that they could create stem cells simply by dipping skin and blood cells into acid.

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Shots - Health News
2:49 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Targeting Overweight Workers With Wellness Programs Can Backfire

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 1:08 pm

Employers say obesity is a top health concern for their workers. But health is a sensitive and personal issue. Some employees say these wellness initiatives can go too far.

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Shots - Health News
3:38 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

A Misspent Youth Doesn't Doom You To Heart Disease

Had a bit too much fun in your 20s?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 9:34 am

We all know that a healthy lifestyle can keep heart disease at bay. But if like many of us you spent your 20s scarfing down pizza, throwing back a few too many beers and aggressively avoiding the gym, don't despair.

People who drop bad habits in their late 30s and 40s can reduce their risk of developing coronary artery disease, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.

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Shots - Health News
2:14 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

State Of The Painkiller Nation: Wide Variation In Prescription Rates

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 9:35 am

There's no getting around the fact that the abuse of prescription painkillers is a huge problem in the U.S. Prescription drug overdoses now kill more people each year than car crashes.

But the overdose risks vary quite a bit depending on where in the country you live. One reason is that how often doctors prescribed the drugs, such as Percocet, Vicodin and generic opioids, varies widely by state.

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Parenting
12:25 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Kids Dealing With Negative Body Image? Don't Judge, Listen

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:20 pm

Transcript

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Shots - Health News
11:25 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Older Adults Are Fatter Than Ever, Increasing Their Risk Of Illness

Most older adults are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of chronic health problems.
Claudio Arnese iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:08 pm

Older people are working more, voting more and drinking and smoking less than they used to. That's the good news.

But nearly three-quarters of older men and about two-thirds of women over age 64 are overweight or obese, making them more likely to have to deal with diabetes, arthritis and impaired mobility.

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Shots - Health News
7:55 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Skimpier Health Plans Could Impose Big Out-Of-Pocket Costs

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 2:02 pm

People are worried about being able to pay for health insurance. So the insurance industry and a group of Democratic senators have proposed offering cheaper, skimpier "copper plans" on the health law's marketplaces that could draw in people who were unhappy with the cost of available plans.

But consumer advocates and others who study the insurance market suggest that there may not be a big demand for these plans and that they could expose people to unacceptably high out-of-pocket costs if they got sick.

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Law
4:09 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Some Home Care Workers May Avoid Bargaining Fees, Court Rules

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:24 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's turn now to NPR's Cheryl Corley in Chicago. She's been listening to a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that non-union home healthcare workers no longer have to pay union fees.

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Business
5:41 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

How Many Companies Will Be Touched By Court's Contraception Ruling?

The Supreme Court said protecting the free-exercise rights of owners of corporations, such as Hobby Lobby Stores, protects religious liberty.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 5:46 pm

When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that "closely held" corporations don't have to pay for workers' contraception, you may have assumed the decision applied only to family-owned businesses.

Wrong. An estimated 9 out of 10 businesses are "closely held."

However, some benefits experts question just how many of those companies would want to assert religious views.

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Shots - Health News
5:34 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Skip The Stirrups: Doctors Rethink Yearly Pelvic Exams

First-year medical student Michelle Gentile assists her classmate Abbie Harts as she performs a pelvic exam on a volunteer at Northwestern University.
Joshua Lott Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:57 pm

The American College of Physicians said Monday that it strongly recommends against annual pelvic exams for healthy, low-risk women.

In fact, the intrusive exams may do more harm than good for women who aren't pregnant or don't have signs of problems, a group of doctors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Lead Exposure May Cause Depression And Anxiety In Children

A child plays in a Beijing park. Health threats caused by pollution have become a major concern in China.
Andy Wong AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 8:44 am

Lead is well known for causing permanent behavioral and cognitive problems in children, but a study says it may also cause less obvious problems like depression, too, even at low levels.

That's the word from a study tracking the health of 1,341 children in Jintan, China, where the health effects of pollution from rapid development have become a national concern.

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Shots - Health News
3:35 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby Ruling Cuts Into Contraceptive Mandate

Customers walk into a Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:57 pm

In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court allowed a key exemption to the health law's contraception coverage requirements when it ruled that closely held for-profit businesses could assert a religious objection to the Obama administration's regulations. What does it mean? Here are some questions and answers about the case.

What did the court's ruling do?

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All Tech Considered
11:31 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Facebook Manipulates Our Moods For Science And Commerce: A Roundup

Facebook researchers manipulated newsfeeds of nearly 700,000 users to study "emotional contagion."
iStockPhoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 1:28 pm

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says

Customers enter a Hobby Lobby store in Antioch, Calif., this past spring. The Supreme Court is ruling on the crafts store chain's resistance to portions of the Affordable Care Act. The store's owners cite their religious freedom.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:54 pm

The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

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The Two-Way
9:21 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Union Fees For Some Home Care Workers

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:40 am

Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some public employees cannot be required to contribute to unions.

In a 5-4 ruling split along ideological lines, the court recognized a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The court said the current practice, which permits automatic deductions, violates the First Amendment rights of those nonmembers who disagree with the union's positions.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Preschoolers Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets

If you've noticed that kids seem to be better at figuring out these things, you're not alone.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Ever wonder why children can so easily figure out how to work the TV remote? Or why they "totally get" apps on your smartphone faster than you? It turns out that young children may be more open-minded than adults when it comes to solving problems.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Online Psychotherapy Gains Fans And Raises Privacy Concerns

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Lauren Kay has never met her therapist in person. The 24-year-old entrepreneur found it difficult to take time off work for appointments.

So she started seeing a psychotherapist online.

"It's definitely been different," she says. Kay, who lives in New York, found her counselor through an online therapy service called Pretty Padded Room. When it's time for an appointment, all she has to do is log in to the website, click a link and start video chatting.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:18 am
Sun June 29, 2014

Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story

Courtesy of Lauren R. Weinstein/Nautilus

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 2:55 pm

They're odds. That's all they are. Not fate, just probabilities. Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist, is having a baby, and she's told — out of the blue — that she and her husband are both carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. They are sent to a genetic counselor. What happens next — told in five beautifully drawn, emotionally eloquent cartoons — tells what it's like to walk the edge for a few weeks. She's so many things (sad, funny, scared, puzzled), and then there's the ender. Take a look.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Older Moms Take Heart: You May Be More Likely To Live Longer

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:58 pm

Americans are waiting longer to become parents. Whatever the pros and cons of that trend, here's some potentially good news for those older moms: They may be more likely to live longer.

Women who had their last child after the age of 33 had twice the odds of "exceptional longevity" — defined as living to about 95 — as did women who had their last child before age 29, according to a study published this week in the journal Menopause.

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Shots - Health News
2:07 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Federal Panel Backs FluMist For Kids, But The Shot Isn't Dead Yet

An elementary school student Shane Shorter gets a a dose of FluMist in Gainesville, Fla.
Doug Finger Gainesville Sun/Landov

What's worse, a shot in the arm or a spritz up the nose? Children increasingly have a choice when it comes to vaccination for influenza.

On Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel that advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccinations, voted for the spritz up the nose. It recommended that healthy children ages 2 through 8 get FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, instead of the traditional flu shot.

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Shots - Health News
1:59 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

When Heat Stroke Strikes, Cool First, Transport Later

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo takes a water break during the 2014 World Cup soccer match between Portugal and the U.S. in Manaus, Brazil, on June 22.
Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:38 pm

The first-ever World Cup water break (taken during the game between Portugal and the United States this week) is a reminder that we all need to take extra precautions when playing in the heat.

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Shots - Health News
12:08 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

A Doctor Tries To Save A 9-Year-Old Stricken With Ebola

Workers with Doctors Without Borders prepare isolation and treatment areas for Ebola patients in Gueckedou, Guinea.
Kjell Gunnar Beraas AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:46 am

He was a little boy, 9 years old. He and his mother had both been infected with Ebola. She likely caught the virus while washing a deceased Ebola victim, as is often the custom for burials in Guinea. Then she probably infected her child.

Once she began showing symptoms, she and her son were locked in a house for four days because neighbors were so scared of the virus. Medical workers learned of the case. And the mother and son were driven to a treatment center in the back of a pickup truck, along a dirt road.

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Health
11:13 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Black Men Can Be Emotional Eaters, Too

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 11:25 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
2:21 am
Fri June 27, 2014

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Michael Yezzi raises 1,000 pigs a year in Shushan, N.Y. He's worried about how to keep his farm safe from a disease that has no proven cure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 7:31 am

If you're bringing home the bacon, you may have noticed a price tag inching upward.

Consumers are paying nearly 13 percent more for pork at the supermarket than they were this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A deadly pig disease is partially to blame.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Clashing Accounts Of Heart Attack Case Spark Reader Debate

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Perhaps we should have expected that the contradictory stories about a middle-aged man's heart attack would lead to a vigorous conversation about whether the doctors and nurses or the patient and his wife were right in their descriptions.

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Shots - Health News
3:44 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) binds to a stretch of double-stranded DNA (purple and red), preparing to snip out the faulty part.
Illustration courtesy of Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:47 am

Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Pot Use On The Rise In U.S., Report Says

A U.N. report says the use and potency of cannabis is on the rise in the U.S.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:34 pm

Marijuana use in the United States has gone up as the public perception of the drug's risk has gone down, according to a new United Nations report. The potency of the drug has also increased,

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