Health Desk

Author Interviews
1:54 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

How Our Stone Age Bodies Struggle To Stay Healthy In Modern Times

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 9:00 am

If you got sick, you probably wouldn't go to an evolutionary biologist to get treated. But Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, says that his field can help you understand why you got sick, and make you more aware of healthy and harmful behaviors.

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:27 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

How A Tax On Medical Devices United Political Rivals

U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (center) and colleagues gather before a Sunday vote on Capitol Hill. The House passed two new provisions to a federal spending bill to delay Obamacare for a year and to repeal the medical device tax.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 4:26 pm

As the federal government lurches toward a shutdown, there's one thing a lot of people in Congress actually agree on.

Read more
Shots - Health News
8:58 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Vaccine Refusals Fueled California's Whooping Cough Epidemic

A student gets vaccinated against pertussis at a Los Angeles middle school in 2012. The state required that students be immunized to halt an epidemic of whooping cough.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 10:22 am

When the whooping cough vaccine was invented in the 1940s, doctors thought they had finally licked the illness, which is especially dangerous for babies. But then it came roaring back.

In 2010, a whooping cough outbreak in California sickened 9,120 people, more than in any year since 1947. Ten infants died; babies are too young to be vaccinated.

Public health officials suspected that the increased numbers of parents who refused to vaccinate their children played a role, but they couldn't be sure.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:37 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Insurance Exchange 101: Here's What You Need To Know

The audience concentrates on a presentation by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's office about the federal health care overhaul at the University of Kansas satellite campus in Overland Park, Kan., earlier this month.
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:36 am

The Affordable Care Act has been through two years of legislative wrangling, a presidential election and a Supreme Court test that took it to the brink.

Now, after yet another round of debate and argument, major pieces of the federal health law are expected to kick in Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, people who don't have insurance or who buy it on their own will be able to shop online or at various locations in their communities for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

Read more
Planet Money
2:36 am
Mon September 30, 2013

One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare

Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 6:44 am

Tuesday is a big day for Obamacare. The online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance are supposed to open for business.

No one really knows who is going to sign up — not the Obama administration, not the insurance industry, not the president's critics. Yet the success of the law hangs on this question: Will the right mix of people sign up? In particular, will healthy people buy health insurance?

Read more
The Salt
2:35 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Just Funky Tea?

Kombucha made by artisan tea brewer Bill Bond in Akron, Ohio, comes in an array of flavors, such as lemongrass, ginger, blueberry and watermelon.
Peggy Turbett The Plain Dealer /Landov

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 11:34 am

Chances are, you've seen it in your local grocery store. Maybe you've even mustered the courage to taste it — or at least take a whiff.

Once mostly a product of health food stores and hippies' kitchens, kombucha tea is now commercially available in many major grocery stores.

And people aren't necessarily scooping it up for its flavor. Its taste has been described as somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.

Read more
The Salt
2:34 am
Mon September 30, 2013

To Get The Benefits Of Olive Oil, Fresh May Be Best

Experts say lots of factors determine how quickly an oil deteriorates — from the variety of the olives, to how the oil is produced and stored.
Matthias Schrader AP

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 5:17 pm

The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that lately has become a darling of medical researchers. It includes vegetables and grains, not so much meat and, of course, generous portions of olive oil.

Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University, says the evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. "Olive oil is a very healthy food," she says. "I consider it more medicine than food."

Read more
The Sunday Conversation
7:02 am
Sun September 29, 2013

'Navigator' Helps ER Patients Who Don't Need Emergency Care

New York City's Montefiore Medical Center, located in the Bronx, has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the nation.
Robert Benson

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 10:22 am

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Wendy Shindler, a nurse, works in the waiting room of New York City's Montefiore Medical Center's emergency department, where she identifies patients waiting for services who don't actually need emergency room-level care. The program is an intervention aimed at improving care at the busy Bronx hospital while reducing costs.

Read more
Health Care
5:42 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

The Religious Alternative To Obamacare's Individual Mandate

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 3:54 pm

The Affordable Care Act requires nearly every American to have health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning Jan. 1. The so-called "individual mandate" has been controversial ever since the law was passed.

But for people who fall into a few select categories, the mandate doesn't apply. Like Native Americans who get health coverage through the Indian Health Service, or people who are incarcerated.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:07 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

House Ties Government Funding To One-Year Obamacare Delay

Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives at the Capitol on Saturday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 7:52 am

Updated at 12:24 a.m. ET Sunday

The House voted early Sunday to tie government funding to a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare, sending the dispute back to the Senate, where it is certain to get a frosty reception. The House measure also repeals the Affordable Care Act's tax on medical devices.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:50 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Why Brain Surgeons Want Help From A Maggot-Like Robot

University of Maryland's Jaydev Desai shows off a prototype of a robot that he and colleagues are developing to minimize harm to patients during brain surgery.
John T. Consoli University of Maryland

Brain surgery is a dicey business. Even the most experienced surgeons can damage healthy tissue while trying to root out tumors deep inside the brain.

Researchers from the University of Maryland are working on a solution, and it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. They're developing a tiny, maggot-like robot that can crawl into brains and zap tumors from within.

Read more
The Salt
1:19 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Students Win Seed Money To Make Flour From Insects

MBA students from McGill University in Montreal are building a company to mass produce grasshoppers, seen here at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico.
William Neuheisel Flickr

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:55 pm

Mohammed Ashour has a big order to fill: By March 2014, he has to deliver 10 tons of grasshoppers to customers in Mexico.

He and four other MBA students at McGill University in Montreal have a plan to farm insects in poor countries and turn them into flour that can be used in everything from bread to corn tortillas. And on Monday, former President Bill Clinton handed them $1 million to make it happen.

Read more
Barbershop
10:48 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Forget Shutdown, How About Kimmel & Kanye Showdown?

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Read more
Politics
10:48 am
Fri September 27, 2013

A Trip Down Government Shutdown Lane

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Read more
Books
10:48 am
Fri September 27, 2013

The Competing Interests Behind Smokey Bear And The Crying Indian

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 11:26 am

Read more
Shots - Health News
10:34 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Lessons About Insurance In The Obamacare Data Dump

Chicago insurance broker Sean Whaley told The Associated Press earlier this month that his self-employed clients were frustrated that didn't have the information to plan ahead for their families' health care costs in 2014.
M. Spencer Green AP

This week the Department of Health and Human Services released a ton of information about how insurance sold in 36 states under the Affordable Care Act will work.

Most of it came in the form of data showing the number of carriers and their premium prices in hundreds of regions.

Until now we've seen information on subsidized policies to be sold through online marketplaces released in trickles by states that are creating their own online portals.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:05 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Houston Gears Up For Obamacare, Despite GOP Opposition

Enroll America outreach worker Rosy Mota (right) talks about the federal health care law with a CVS customer.
Carrie Feibel

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:26 am

Two high-profile Texans are fighting the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Rick Perry has loudly dismissed the law, and fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor this week to rail against it at length — 21 hours and 19 minutes to be exact.

On the other side of the issue, you have Rosy Mota and her clipboard, standing at the door of a CVS pharmacy in one of Houston's Latino neighborhoods, stopping shoppers.

Read more
Shots - Health News
5:33 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

A Penicillin Shortage Hinders Treatment For Rheumatic Fever

Streptococcus pyogenes shouldn't be taken lightly. Left untreated, an infection with germ can trigger an autoimmune disease that damages the heart.
NIAID/Flickr.com

We often take antibiotics for granted. If you catch strep throat, a round of penicillin can clear it up in a few days.

But because of a curious drug shortage, in many parts of the world it's now easier to get HIV drugs than an old-fashioned form of penicillin that prevents heart damage from rheumatic fever.

Read more
The Salt
5:20 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Doctors Say Changes In Wheat Do Not Explain Rise Of Celiac Disease

About 40 years ago wheat breeders introduced new varieties of wheat that helped farmers increase their grain yields. But scientists say those varieties aren't linked to the rise in celiac disease.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 11:09 am

Wheat has been getting a bad rap lately.

Many folks are experimenting with the gluten-free diet, and a best-selling book called Wheat Belly has helped drive a lot of the interest.

"Wheat is the most destructive thing you could put on your plate, no question," says William Davis, a cardiologist in Milwaukee, Wis., who authored the book.

Read more
The Salt
5:10 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

McDonald's Says Bye-Bye To Sugary Sodas In Happy Meals

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:29 pm

Fast-food giant McDonald's has made a commitment to stop marketing sodas as a beverage option in kids' Happy Meals.

Instead, the chain has committed to market and promote only milk, water and juice with the children's meals.

Now, if parents order a Coke or Sprite with their child's Happy Meal, they won't be turned down. But sodas will no longer be marketed or promoted visually in any of McDonald's advertisements or in-store visuals.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

'How Much Will Obamacare Cost Me?' Try Our Calculator

No envelope backs required for this health care calculation.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 2:13 pm

On Tuesday, if all goes according to plan, the federal health law's marketplaces for individual health insurance are scheduled to open for business.

Nearly all Americans will be required to have health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2014, or else they'll be liable for a tax penalty.

Read more
Health
2:34 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Big Pharma And Meth Cooks Agree: Keep Cold Meds Over The Counter

Key methamphetamine ingredient pseudoephedrine is most easily found in cold and allergy medicines.
Ann Heisenfelt AP

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:11 pm

Millions of Americans have seen the fictional world of meth use and production in AMC's Breaking Bad, but journalist Jonah Engle has spent a lot of time in the real world of meth.

Read more
The Salt
2:02 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Are Chefs On Competitive Diets Good Public Health Messengers?

Chef Mike Isabella, who owns three restaurants in Washington, D.C., came up with the Fit for Hope weight loss challenge for his peers in the restaurant industry.
Donald Bowers Getty Images Entertainment

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:23 pm

Let's face it: In the popular imagination, the stereotypical chef has a large gut protruding from under his white double-breasted coat. And that stereotype is often accurate — by some estimates, 70 percent of chefs in the U.S. are overweight. Weight gain seems to be par for the course when you're spending your day tasting food and your late nights unwinding after a stressful dinner service.

Read more
The Salt
12:24 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Why Can't Fish Oil Supplements Keep Our Brains Sharp?

If you eat fish, rather than take a fish-oil supplement, is there more likely to be a benefit? There's more than a suggestion that this is indeed the case.
Verena J Matthew iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:22 pm

Lots of people think of fish as brain food. And there's good reason.

Many kinds of fish — think salmon, sardines, tuna — contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fat, which have been shown to fight inflammation and improve the function of our neurons.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:39 am
Thu September 26, 2013

For A Price, Volunteers Endure Scientists' Flu Spritzes

How much would a scientist have to pay you to get sick with the flu?
F.T. Werner iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:01 pm

What would it take to persuade you to allow government researchers to squirt millions of live flu viruses up your nose?

A recently concluded project at the National Institutes of Health found, among other things, that $3,400 each was enough to attract plenty of volunteers.

"I am happy I could contribute in some way," says Kelli Beyer, 24, one of 46 healthy people who volunteered for the project. To get the money, the research subjects had to commit to several days of testing, then nine days in a hospital isolation ward once the virus was administered in a nasal spray.

Read more
Health Care
11:17 am
Thu September 26, 2013

MacArthur Fellow Crunches Data To Streamline Health Care

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 12:17 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're talking this week with some of the fellows who've won a coveted MacArthur grant this week. Those are the so-called genius grants that recognize exceptional creativity in a number of fields including the arts and public policy. Yesterday, we spoke with Angela Duckworth. She was recognized for her research on how grit and self-control contribute to educational success.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:44 am
Thu September 26, 2013

A Medicaid Expansion In Pennsylvania May Take Time

Susan Mull is a substitute teacher in Lancaster County, Pa. She's lived with HIV for 21 years, the past 13 without health insurance. She says an expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania would be "life-changing."
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:26 am

In Pennsylvania, more than a half-million people who don't have insurance are waiting to hear whether the state will take advantage of a Medicaid expansion that's part of the Affordable Care Act.

The federal law would allow people earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines to sign up for Medicaid. But a Supreme Court ruling that largely upheld the law gave states the choice whether to expand their Medicaid programs.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:28 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Say What? French Horn Players Run Risk Of Hearing Loss

Stand back, or wear earplugs.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 1:52 pm

Loud music can lead to hearing loss. But it's not just rock musicians and their fans who are at risk.

In classical orchestras, horn players are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage from the tunes they and their colleagues play.

Some studies have found that horn players are blasted with some of the loudest sounds in the orchestra. The levels are so high that many countries' occupational health regulations would limit exposure like that to a half-hour a day, some studies have found.

Read more
Education
11:52 am
Wed September 25, 2013

MacArthur 'Genius' On Grit, Self Control And Success

Host Michel Martin speaks with psychologist Angela Duckworth, who was named a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow today. Duckworth's research shows how grit and self-control can predict future life success.

Shots - Health News
11:03 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Repeated Bone Scans Shed Little Light On Fracture Risk

A broken hip like the one at left is a big health worry for older women.
iStockphoto.com

Many women have heard that they should be concerned about bone health as they age because there's a risk for crippling fractures.

But repeated bone scans that are supposed to help assess the risk do a crummy job of predicting who's actually going to break a bone.

That's the gist of a study of 802 women and men who are part of the ongoing Framingham Heart Study. They were screened for osteoporosis in 1987 and again in 1999. Most were in their 70s.

Read more

Pages