Health Desk

Goats and Soda
9:11 am
Fri February 27, 2015

It Kills Germs For Up To 6 Hours. Can It Wipe Out Ebola?

A health worker in Liberia washes up after leaving a clinic's Ebola isolation area.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 6:59 pm

Clean hands go a long way toward preventing the spread of many illnesses, including Ebola. But finding the right hand-wash to impede deadly germs is tricky.

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Shots - Health News
8:09 am
Fri February 27, 2015

5 Things To Know About The Latest Supreme Court Challenge To Health Law

The Affordable Care Act will take center stage at the Supreme Court on March 4.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

The Affordable Care Act is once again before the Supreme Court.

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Goats and Soda
3:38 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

How Tents And Fried Chicken Help Stop Cancer

Physicians Nowiba Mugambi and Erica Palys discuss a patient's X-ray at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. The hospital plans to open a new cancer treatment center in April.
Evelyn Hockstein Courtesy of AMPATH

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 11:09 am

Not too many years ago, nearly half of the kids diagnosed with cancer in Guatemala wouldn't come in for treatment. There wasn't much chemotherapy to be had, and parents didn't think treatments worked. Most children with curable cancers died.

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The Salt
3:38 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Will The Dietary Guidelines Consider The Planet? The Fight Is On

A government-appointed panel concluded in a recent report that Americans should eat less red meat and processed meat. A more plant-focused diet is better for health and the environment, it found.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 6:40 pm

When it comes to eating well, we should consider the health of our bodies and the planet. This was the recommendation coming from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Feb. 19.

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Shots - Health News
1:48 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

From Naked Mole Rats To Dog Testicles: A Writer Explores The Longevity Quest

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 3:03 pm

When journalist Bill Gifford turned 40, his friends gave him a cake shaped as a tombstone with the words, "R.I.P, My Youth." As he reflected on his creeping memory lapses and the weight he'd gained, Gifford got interested in the timeless quest to turn back the aging clock — or at least slow it down.

His latest book, Spring Chicken, explores everything from some wacky pseudo-cures for aging to fascinating research that point to causes of aging at the cellular level.

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Shots - Health News
10:51 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Doctors Join Forces With Lawyers To Reduce Firearms Deaths

Closing loopholes in background checks for gun purchases would reduce the risk of death and injury, doctors' and attorneys' groups say.
Alexa Miller Getty Images

Each year more than 32,000 people die in the United States as a result of suicides, homicides and accidents with firearms.

For years doctors have tried to reduce the toll by addressing gun injuries and deaths as a public health issue; there's ample evidence that ease of access to is linked to the number of suicides and homicides. But those efforts haven't gained much traction.

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Shots - Health News
8:38 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Attention, Shoppers: Prices For 70 Health Care Procedures Now Online!

Shopping for an MRI scan? Guroo.org, won't yet show you what your local hospital or radiologist charges, but it will reveal the average cost of the test in your area.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 3:04 pm

Buying health care in America is like shopping blindfolded at Macy's and getting the bill months after you leave the store, Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt likes to say.

But an online tool that went live Wednesday is supposed to help change that, giving patients in most parts of the country a small peek at the prices of medical tests and procedures before they open their wallets.

Got a sore knee? Having a baby? Need a primary-care doctor? Shopping for an MRI scan?

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NPR Story
4:16 am
Thu February 26, 2015

U.S. Steps Up Commitment To Fight Malaria

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 6:52 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The White House is stepping up its commitment to fighting a disease that still kills roughly 600,000 people around the world each year. The Obama administration has announced a six-year extension of a program to fight malaria. NPR's Jason Beaubien has more.

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Shots - Health News
4:00 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Infections With Dangerous Gut Microbe Still On The Rise

An overgrowth of Clostridium difficile bacteria can inflame the colon with a life-threatening infection.
Dr. David Phillips Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 5:34 pm

A potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal infection is more common than previously estimated, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

The infection, caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, causes nearly 500,000 illnesses in the United States each year and kills about 29,000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Injured Nurses
3:58 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

At VA Hospitals, Training And Technology Reduce Nurses' Injuries

To safely lift Bernard Valencia out of his hospital bed, Cheri Moore uses a ceiling lift and sling. The VA hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., has safe patient handling technology installed throughout its entire facility.
Annie Tritt for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:46 pm

Bernard Valencia's room in the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif., illustrates how hospitals across the country could fight a nationwide epidemic. As soon as you enter the room, you can see one of the main strategies: A hook hangs from a metal track that runs across the ceiling.

This isn't some bizarre way of fighting hospital-acquired infections or preventing the staff from getting needle sticks. The contraption is a ceiling hoist designed to lift and move patients with a motor instead of muscle.

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Shots - Health News
12:57 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Eyelashes Grow To Just The Right Length To Shield Eyes

A calf sports platinum blonde lashes.
Mike Horrocks/Flickr

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 3:04 pm

Attaching fake eyelashes might make give you a few extra millimeters to bat at your date, but they could also be channeling dust into your eyes. That's because the ideal eyelash length is about one third the width of an eye. And that goes for 22 different animals, not just humans.

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The Salt
10:32 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Produce Pride: Showing The Love With Vegetable Tattoos

Siblings Jessica and Oliver Schaap of Holland, Mich., test out the temporary vegetable tattoos known as Tater Tats.
Courtesy of Jenna Weiler

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 2:24 pm

If you really love vegetables and want to tell the world, there are many ways to do so. You can join a community supported agriculture group, or CSA. You can plant a garden in your front yard. And you can broadcast your passion with t-shirt or sticker slogan like "Eat More Kale" or "Powered By Plants."

Now, there's also the option of adorning your body with vegetable body art.

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Shots - Health News
8:58 am
Wed February 25, 2015

May I Move My Son Off My Insurance So He Can Buy On The Exchange?

Some people are trying to figure out how to become eligible for coverage on the health insurance marketplaces. Others are wondering how the Affordable Care Act may affect coverage they buy for their children under previously established state programs.

I am covered by my employer's health plan, but I'm not happy with it. My son is 21 and currently covered under my plan. While I realize that I am not eligible for Obamacare, I am curious if I can terminate my son's policy so that he might be eligible.

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Asia
7:05 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Young Indians Learn To Fight Pollution To Save Lives

Smoke rises from chimneys of coal-based power plants in the Sonbhadra District of Uttar Pradesh, India.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 1:19 pm

China's pollution is epic enough that even the mayor of Beijing said his city "is not livable" because of its noxious smog.

But a new study, published Saturday in the Economic & Political Weekly, shows that 660 million people — half the population — live in areas where fine particulate matter pollution is above levels considered safe under Indian standards.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:43 am

Gerbils are a beloved classroom pet, but they might also be deadly killers. A study now claims that gerbils helped bring bubonic plague to Medieval Europe and contributed to the deaths of millions.

Plague is caused by bacteria (Yersinia pestis) found in rodents, and the fleas that live on rodents. The rodent that's usually Suspect Zero is the rat.

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Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Younger Women Hesitate To Say They're Having A Heart Attack

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 1:21 pm

Each year more than 15,000 women under the age of 55 die of heart disease in the United States. And younger women are twice as likely to die after being hospitalized for a heart attack as men in the same age group.

It doesn't help that women tend to delay seeking emergency care for symptoms of a heart attack such as pain and dizziness, says Judith Lichtman, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. "We've known that for a while," she says.

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Goats and Soda
3:01 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

How Did A Celibate 82-Year-Old Buddhist Monk Contract HIV?

A so-called "smart" syringe can only be used once, so there's no chance a patient can be infected due to multiple usages.
Courtesy of Chris Black/WHO

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 6:32 pm

An 82-year-old celibate Buddhist abbot from Cambodia has been diagnosed with HIV. His doctor was the cause: He was reusing syringes and infected a reported 272 individuals, including babies and children.

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Shots - Health News
2:37 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Will Vaping Reignite The Battle Over Smoking On Airplanes?

Those were the days: A stewardess lights a cigar for a passenger aboard an American Airlines flight in 1949.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:50 am

My biggest concern while flying is whether my legs will fall victim to deep vein thrombosis from being crammed in the sardine can we call an airplane seat. But on the bright side, at least I'm not increasing my risk of lung cancer, emphysema and bronchitis because of secondhand smoke.

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Goats and Soda
10:35 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Emotional Scars Of Modern Slavery Run 'Deeper Than Any Visible Wound'

Burmese migrant Thazin Mon Htay and her father Ko Ngwe Htay were trafficked to Thailand to peel shrimp. They worked 16-hour shifts, seven days a week, for less than $10 a day, Ko Ngwe told PBS NewsHour.
Jason Motlagh/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 5:00 pm

Some recall getting burned. Others say they've been strangled or attacked by dogs. Many suffer from depression and anxiety. These are only a small sampling of what tens of millions modern slaves endure daily, researchers in London reported Wednesday.

The study, published in The Lancet Global Health, is the largest one, so far, to detail the mental and physical health of people who have survived human trafficking.

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Goats and Soda
4:11 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Good News: More Crops! Bad News: More Plague!

In Africa, land that borders forests is increasingly used for farming.
Courtesy of Douglas McCauley

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 6:40 pm

Africa needs more food.

And to get more food, you need more farmland.

There's a relatively simple solution — it's called "land conversion," and it can mean creating new fields to grow crops next to fragments of forest.

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The Salt
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Feeding Babies Foods With Peanuts Appears To Prevent Allergies

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 1:28 pm

Babies at high risk for becoming allergic to peanuts are much less likely to develop the allergy if they are regularly fed foods containing the legumes starting in their first year of life.

That's according to a big new study released Monday involving hundreds of British babies. The researchers found that those who consumed the equivalent of about 4 heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting when they were between 4 and 11 months old, were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by their fifth birthday.

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Shots - Health News
3:00 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Your Soap Has Bacteria In It, But It Still Gets You Clean

The bacteria in the soap are usually less of a problem than the bacteria on your hands.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 1:20 pm

Bacteria are everywhere on your skin, hair and eyelashes, to name a few of their homes. Bacteria are even in your soap, the very thing you thought washed all the bacteria away.

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Shots - Health News
10:01 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Administration Bars Health Plans That Won't Cover Hospital Care

Is health insurance that doesn't cover hospital care worth having?
iStockphoto

The Obama administration has blocked health plans without hospital benefits that many large employers argued fulfilled their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

Companies with millions of workers, mainly in lower-wage industries such as staffing, retailing, restaurants and hotels that hadn't offered health coverage previously, had been flocking toward such insurance for 2015.

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NPR Story
4:02 am
Mon February 23, 2015

New Hospital Buildings Define Future Of Health Care

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:25 am

Copyright 2015 KERA Unlimited. To see more, visit http://www.kera.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
4:02 am
Mon February 23, 2015

When Kids Think Parents Play Favorites, It Can Spell Trouble

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:21 am

If you have siblings, you probably think that your parents liked one kid best — and you're probably right. Scientists say the family pecking order does affect children, but not always in the way you might think.

The vast majority of parents do have favorite child, according to research — about 80 percent. But that number sounds pretty darned high. So I decided to ask some kids in my neighborhood in Bethesda, Md., what they think happens in their families.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Lots Of Seniors Are Overweight, But Few Use Free Counseling For It

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 3:16 pm

Anne Roberson walks a quarter-mile down the road each day to her mailbox in the farming town of Exeter, deep in California's Central Valley. Her daily walk and housekeeping chores are her only exercise, and her weight has remained stubbornly over 200 pounds for some time now. Roberson is 68 years old, and she says it gets harder to lose weight as you get older: "You get to a certain point in your life and you say, 'What's the use?' "

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Shots - Health News
11:41 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes

Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:21 am

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

When Pot Goes From Illegal To Recreational, Schools Face A Dilemma

Schools in Colorado are trying to find effective ways to teach the health effects of marijuana use. "When it's legal for your parents to smoke it or grow it," says one educator, "that changes the conversation."
David Zalubowski AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:21 am

Like many schools across Colorado, Arapahoe Ridge High School in Boulder has seen an increase in overall drug incidents since recreational marijuana became legal.

While public schools aren't required to report marijuana incidents separately from other drugs such as cocaine, evidence compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News suggests more students are using marijuana.

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Shots - Health News
6:03 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Hammered And Heedless: Do Dangerous Drinking Videos Harm Teens?

If your idea of fun is being falling-down drunk, there's plenty for you on YouTube.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:57 am

Type "drunk," "hammered," or "trashed" into YouTube's search bar and some pretty unsavory videos are likely to turn up.

And that can't be good for teenagers and young adults, researchers say. User-generated YouTube videos portraying dangerous drinking get hundreds of millions of views online, according a study published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Health
3:46 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Why The 'Nightmare Superbug' Isn't As Scary As It Sounds

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 9:43 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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