Health Desk

Around the Nation
4:19 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

World's Eyes On Washington's New Recreational Pot Rules

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 7:02 pm

Washington State has finalized rules for recreational marijuana sales, joining Colorado in beginning to create a legal framework for the pot industry. Randy Simmons, deputy director of the Washington Liquor Control Board, says other states and even other countries are watching Washington's developing system very closely.

The Sunday Conversation
10:03 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Comedian Faces His Addictions To Food And Alcohol

Comedian Jamie Kilstein
Mary d'Aloisio

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:24 am

In a single week, comedian Jamie Kilstein realized he was both an alcoholic and a food addict.

He has alcoholism in his family, and didn't start drinking till he was legally allowed to. But then, he became a stand-up comic — a job that often pays in drinks.

"I was like, well, I gotta get paid somehow," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I earned this."

While alcoholism is a term most people understand, addiction to food can be a bit murkier. "After my first week of not drinking, I felt really proud of myself," Kilstein says, "but I still felt like there was more."

Read more
Health
6:47 am
Sun October 20, 2013

With Addiction, Breaking A Habit Means Resisting A Reflex

Addiction can come in a lot of forms, but the characteristics are the same.
aurumarcus Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 10:27 am

The pull of addiction can come from many directions: from food to alcohol to the Internet. So what connects those dependencies?

"Addiction is a memory, it's a reflex. It's training your brain in something which is harmful to yourself," says Dr. Charles P. O'Brien, co-founder of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more
Health
6:40 am
Sat October 19, 2013

When The Cost Of Health Insurance Outweighs The Risk

Part-time bartender Jacob Kreider, 33, tells host Scott Simon that he's chosen not to take the medical plan for which he qualifies under the Affordable Care Act. He says he'd rather use the money to pursue his career goals.

Health
6:40 am
Sat October 19, 2013

For 'Young Invincibles,' Insurance Isn't Just A Health Issue

For the Affordable Care Act to work, young, healthy people have to sign up for the new insurance exchanges. But these so-call Young Invincibles have a number of reasons for forgoing coverage. Host Scott Simon talks with Lisa Dubay of the Urban Institute about these 18- to 35-year-olds.

Shots - Health News
4:03 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Why Scientists Are Trying Viruses To Beat Back Bacteria

Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea, can be difficult to treat with antibiotics.
Stefan Hyman University of Leicester

Not all viruses are bad for us. Some of them might even help up us fight off bacterial infections someday.

Naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages attack specific types of bacteria. So researchers at the University of Leicester decided to try and take advantage of phages' bacteria-destroying powers to treat infections with Clostridium difficile, a germ that that can cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Read more
NPR Story
12:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Promising New Treatment for the Deadly Ebola Virus

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

Now, for many of us, we first heard about the Ebola virus from the movie "Outbreak," Dustin Hoffman trying to contain an outbreak of an Ebola-like virus in a small California town. Well, in the 18 years since that movie came out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented 18 known outbreaks of Ebola, with the most recent happening last fall in the Congo.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:01 am
Fri October 18, 2013

To Prevent HIV Infection, Couples Try Testing Together

David Lozano (left) and Kevin Kreinbring stand in front of a painting created by Lozano. The couple says they get tested for HIV together every six months.
Courtesy of David Lozano

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:56 am

Getting tested for HIV in the U.S. is almost always private, sometimes even secretive. Ditto for disclosing the results.

But some say the approach is outmoded at a time when many at risk for HIV — gay men — are in committed relationships.

Research shows as many as two-thirds of new HIV infections among gay men these days are within committed couples. That's very different from the days when promiscuity fueled the epidemic.

Read more
Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Painkiller Overdose Deaths Strike New York City's Middle Class

What's in your neighbor's medicine cabinets may influence overdose risk in the community.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:12 am

Drug overdoses are usually thought to afflict mainly the poor and troubled. But it looks like OxyContin and other opioid painkillers are changing the picture.

People in stable, middle-class neighborhoods are also dying from opioid overdoses, a study in New York City finds.

Opioids have become among the most popular drugs of abuse in the past decade, with deaths from overdoses of oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine eclipsing those from heroin and cocaine combined.

Read more
TED Radio Hour
8:38 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Is 'Patient Capitalism' The Answer To Poverty?

Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Haves And Have-Nots.

About Jacqueline Novogratz's TEDTalk

Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, shares stories of how "patient capitalism" can bring sustainable jobs, goods, services and dignity to the world's poor.

About Jacqueline Novogratz

Read more
Politics
3:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Obamacare Fight Leads Sen. Roberts To Turn Against Old Friend Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius stands with Sen. Pat Roberts (right), R-Kan., and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 2009.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:28 pm

This month's government shutdown grew out of Republicans' insistence on a budget that defunded the Affordable Care Act.

That didn't happen, but Republicans still detest the law — and now there's a movement underway to oust Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Read more
The Salt
4:27 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Moms Petition Mars To Remove Artificial Dyes From M&M's

briser50 Flickr

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:25 am

If you tear open a packet of M&M's, what's the first thing you notice?

The colors: bright blue, vibrant orange, bold yellow. Kids love this visual stimulation.

But the sponsors of a new petition on Change.org — which is urging M&M-maker Mars to replace the artificial colorings used to create these distinctive hues — say these dyes can make some kids hyperactive.

"In this petition, I'm asking Mars to change to natural colorings," mom Renee Shutters told me by phone. "It's very doable."

Read more
Health Care
4:03 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Health Exchange Websites Show Improvements, But Still Spotty

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:54 pm

With the government shutdown over, attention is turning back to the rollout of the federal health law, which has federal and state officials working to fix software glitches on the health exchanges.

Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:35 pm

While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

How The GOP's Shutdown Over Obamacare Fell Short

Susan and Jack Cooper of Richardson, Texas, demonstrate against the government shutdown in Dallas this month.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:44 pm

Remember how that fight over the budget was all about Obamacare?

Seems like ancient history now, but House Republicans ostensibly shut down the government 17 days ago, demanding first a defunding, and, when that failed, a year's delay in the health law.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:34 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Houston, We Have Dengue Fever

Mosquitoes like this Aedes aegypti female can spread dengue fever.
James Gathany CDC

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:03 pm

Dengue fever is in Houston. And it turns out the mosquito-borne illness isn't exactly a stranger there.

Dengue has been roaming around the city since 2003, according to a study published Wednesday. "There was dengue circulating, and we had no idea that it was here because we just weren't looking," says the study's lead author Dr. Kristy Murray of the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital.

Read more
Technology
2:06 am
Thu October 17, 2013

If A Tech Company Had Built The Federal Health Care Website

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 4:25 pm

HealthCare.gov was meant to create a simple, easy way for millions of Americans to shop for subsidized health care.

Instead, in a little two more than weeks, it has become the poster child for the federal government's technical ineptitude.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:54 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

To Reduce Patient Falls, Hospitals Try Alarms, More Nurses

Some patients at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center in Washington are given wristbands showing that they have a high risk of falling.
John Ryan KUOW

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:39 pm

A bad fall in the hospital can turn a short visit into a long stay.

Such falls featured in congressional discussions about patient safety, and in a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety about medical errors. Falls are one part of a multistate clash between nurses and hospitals over how to improve the safety of hospitalized patients.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Family Caregiving Can Be Stressful, Rewarding And Life-Affirming

Taking care of a family member can be a life-extending experience, a study finds.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 3:48 pm

The stereotype of caring for a family member is that it's so stressful it harms the caregiver's health. But that's not necessarily so.

Studies are conflicted, finding that caregiving can harm or help the caregiver. Here's one on the plus side. A study finds that people who care for a family member live longer than similar people who aren't caregiving.

Read more
The Salt
1:34 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Why U.S. Taxpayers Pay $7 Billion A Year To Help Fast-Food Workers

New York City Council speaker and then-mayoral candidate Christine Quinn speaks at a fast-food workers' protest outside a McDonald's in New York in August. A nationwide movement is calling for raising the minimum hourly wage for fast-food workers to $15.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 3:48 pm

If you hit the drive-through, chances are that the cashier who rings you up or the cook who prepared your food relies on public assistance to make ends meet.

A new analysis finds that 52 percent of fast-food workers are enrolled in, or have their families enrolled in, one or more public assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps) Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Read more
Shots - Health News
9:20 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Hitches On Health Exchanges Hinder Launch Of Insurance Co-op

Maryland's Evergreen Health Co-op will eventually be owned by its policyholders. For now, the co-op is scrambling to find customers after the state's online health exchange got off to a rocky start.
iStockphoto.com

Nothing is more important for a startup burning through cash than winning customers and revenue.

So problems with the Affordable Care Act's online marketplaces, also known as exchanges, aren't just an inconvenience for the likes of Evergreen Health Co-op. They're a threat.

Read more
The Salt
1:58 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Arkansas Aims To Make Edamame As American As Apple Pie

An Arkansas company is trying to cash in on an edamame boom in the U.S.
Will Merydith Flickr

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:31 pm

Irene Adams cooks supper for husband, Luke, and 2-year-old son, Cole, at their home in Fayetteville, Ark. She used to serve lots of green beans, but switched to edamame after tasting it at a local restaurant.

"[Cole] used to split his green beans and take out the little seeds inside," Adams says. "So I told Luke we should try edamame, because it's bigger seeds and has more flavor, so that's why we decided to try it and he loves it."

Read more
The Government Shutdown
5:12 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Why A Medical Device Tax Became Part Of The Fiscal Fight

Among the bargaining chips in the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, there's the small but persistent issue of taxing medical device manufacturers.

The 2.3 percent sales tax covers everything from MRI machines to replacement hips and maybe even surgical gloves. The tax was imposed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. It didn't attract much attention at first — at least, not outside the world of medical device manufacturers.

But they have waged a persistent campaign to undo the tax, and right now is the closest they have come to succeeding.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:11 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Bioethicists Give Hollywood's Films A Reality Check

Directors and bioethicists hashed out how moral medical issues should be depicted on screen during a meeting in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of Colin Crowley

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 3:20 pm

A life-threatening pandemic occurs. You're a doctor in the ER and can save a 9-year-old or a 63-year-old doctor. Whom do you choose? How do you choose?

Questions like that can crop up in real life and also on the silver screen. So how good a job do filmmakers do at portraying these moral dilemmas? Some do fairly well, but there's also room for improvement.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:58 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Medicare Begins Open Enrollment, With An Online Caveat

An image taken from the Medicare website shows a message warning users that "information on this website may not be up to date," a situation blamed on the federal shutdown.
NPR

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 3:08 pm

The open enrollment for Medicare programs that began Tuesday will run into December. While the Medicare website doesn't have the problems found in the new federal health system's sites, the government shutdown means that information "may not be up to date," the site warns its users.

For Newscast, NPR's Julie Rovner reports:

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:06 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Random Bedtimes Breed Bad Behavior In Kids

Play now, pay later: consistency matters when it comes to kids and sleep.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:06 pm

Parents learn the hard way that late bedtimes make for cranky kids the next day. But inconsistent bedtimes may have a greater effect on children's behavior, a study says.

Kids who didn't go to bed on a regular schedule had more behavior problems at home and at school. When those children were put to bed at the same time each night, their behavior improved.

Read more
Parenting
10:57 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Dodge Ball: Causing Harm Or Teaching Resilience?

A New York school has taken soccer balls, footballs — and maybe even the fun — out of recess. Officials say hard balls are a safety concern, but critics say they're being too cautious. Tell Me More's parenting roundtable weighs in.

Shots - Health News
10:09 am
Tue October 15, 2013

What Should Make A Hospital CEO's Paycheck Bigger?

Have you thought about getting a PET scanner?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 12:45 pm

Executives at hospitals that have a lot of high-tech gadgets and high patient satisfaction are paid more than their peers, a study of CEO compensation at nonprofit hospitals finds.

Running a hospital that scores well on keeping more patients alive or providing extensive charity care doesn't translate into a pay bump.

Read more
Around the Nation
1:51 am
Tue October 15, 2013

One Roof, Many Generations: Redefining The Single-Family Home

Three generations live under this roof: (from left) 19-year-old Jamie Dusseault, grandmother Jacque Ruggles, mother Marci Dusseault and 22-year-old Chelsie Dusseault.
Peter O'Dowd KJZZ

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 9:12 am

New homes are back in a big way — literally. This summer, a typical new house in Phoenix was more than 20 percent larger than a resale home as builders across the country added more space to accommodate post-recession lifestyles.

Take Jacque Ruggles' family, for example. Four women from three generations live under one roof.

"I'm the matriarch," Ruggles says. "I'm grandma."

Read more
Technology
4:02 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

HealthCare.gov Glitches Lead Many To Rely On Pen And Paper

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 5:19 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. It's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

BLOCK: Forget technology for the moment, good old pen and paper is the way many Americans are now signing up for the new health insurance exchanges. That's because of problems that continue to plague the healthcare.gov website that was supposed to be a one-stop shop for health coverage.

Read more

Pages