Health Desk

Might people with diabetes someday be able to brew their own insulin for free at home, just as with beer? The answer may be yes, but whether it's a good idea is another question.

The home-brewed insulin concept is among the latest to emerge from the bio-hacking movement, in which people meet to tinker with biology in inexpensive do-it-yourself laboratories that have popped up in California, New York and a few other places in the United States and Europe.

Early Push To Require The HPV Vaccine May Have Backfired

Jul 14, 2015

Nine years after it was first approved in June 2006, the HPV vaccine has had a far more sluggish entree into medical practice than other vaccines at a similar point in their history, according to a report in Tuesday's JAMA.

This might not surprise those who remember the early days of the human papillomavirus vaccine, which was targeted at girls aged 11 and 12 to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that causes cancer — but which opponents quickly branded as a vaccine that would promote teenage promiscuity.

A year and a half ago, Dr. David Casarett did not take medical marijuana very seriously. "When I first started this project, I really thought of medical marijuana as a joke," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

India is in the midst of a war of sorts — a war over eggs. To eat them, or not to eat them. Actually, it's more about whether the government should give free eggs to poor, malnourished children.

It all began in late May, when Shivraj Chouhan, the chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, shot down a proposal to serve eggs in government-run day care centers (anganwadis) in some tribal areas.

Heading the ball in soccer has been accused of causing most concussions. But the hazard may be more due to rough play than to one particular technique, researchers say.

The risks involved in heading — when a player uses their head to keep the ball in play — are not new. But Dawn Comstock, an injury epidemiologist at the University of Colorado's School of Public Health, wanted to know if headers are indeed the chief cause of concussions.

When Amanda Dykeman was certain she was done with having children, she had two options for permanent birth control: surgical sterilization, which typically involves general anesthesia and a laparoscopy, or Essure, the only nonsurgical permanent birth control option approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

She chose Essure. And she says her life has never been the same.

The idea that fermented foods — including yogurt and kefir — are good for us goes way back. But could the benefits of "good bacteria" extend beyond our guts to our brains?

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elie Metchnikoff (also known as Ilya Ilich Mechnikov) first observed a connection between fermented milk and longevity among Bulgarian peasants more than a century ago.

After nearly 30 years, the Obama administration wants to modernize the rules nursing homes must follow to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The hundreds of pages of proposed changes cover everything from meal times to use of antipsychotic drugs to staffing. Some are required by the Affordable Care Act and other recent federal laws, as well as the president's executive order directing agencies to simplify regulations and minimize the costs of compliance.

Some parents pick out a name for their child as soon as the pregnancy test turns positive. For others, the choice of a name is a game-time decision, taking minutes, hours or even a day or two after birth.

My own baby went unnamed for about 20 minutes as my husband and I tried to figure out which of our top choices best fit her screamy little face.

When Chuck Rosenberg took the top job at the Drug Enforcement Administration two months ago, the longtime prosecutor had a reputation as "Mister Fix It."

The DEA has had a rough time lately — including scandals like agents at sex parties financed by drug cartels. He's now going to be keenly interested in the whereabouts of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who recently escaped from prison.

But there was something else that has really taken Rosenberg's breath away these first few months on the job: drug overdose.

If you had chickenpox as a child, then you're at risk for shingles. As you age, the risk increases, probably because the immune system weakens over time.

The varicella zoster virus can hide in the body over a lifetime and suddenly activate, causing a painful, blistery rash. Even when the rash disappears, pain can linger and worsen, causing a burning, shooting, stabbing pain so severe it can leave people unable to sleep, work or carry on other activities.

A recent recommendation from doctors in the United Kingdom raised eyebrows in the United States: The British National Health Service says healthy women with straightforward pregnancies are better off staying out of the hospital to deliver their babies.

That's heresy, obstetrician Dr. Neel Shah first thought. In the United States, 99 percent of babies are born in hospitals.

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This story originally aired on Morning Edition on July 1, 2015.

Copyright 2015 WFIU-FM. To see more, visit http://wfiu.org.

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In 2009, Rue Mapp was thinking about business school, weighing the pros and cons, and wondering if it was the right choice. The former Morgan Stanley analyst turned to her mentor for advice. But rather than give her an answer, her mentor asked a question: If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?

Just like that, Mapp knew an MBA wasn't in her near future. Instead, she decided to combine everything she loved — from nature to community to technology — into an organization that would reconnect African-Americans to the outdoors.

Should Doctors And Drugmakers Keep Their Distance?

Jul 12, 2015

Doctors are obsessed with time.

It comes down to simple math. If I have four hours to see a dozen patients, there simply isn't much time to stray from the main agenda: What ails you?

Frequently harried, I avoid drug company salespeople. Their job is to get face time with me and convince me quickly of the merits of their products.

In a community center just south of Los Angeles, upwards of 50 people pack into a room to offer each other words of comfort. Most of them are moms, and they've been through a lot.

At Solace, a support group for family members of those suffering from addiction, many of the attendees have watched a child under 30 die of a fatal drug overdose — heroin, or opioids like Oxycontin or Vicodin that are considered gateway drugs to heroin.

The Affordable Care Act got a big boost from the Supreme Court in June. But some states are still dealing with fallout from a previous Supreme Court decision that left it up to states to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid.

In Florida, which opted not to expand, about 850,000 people were left in health care limbo that some call the coverage gap.

How do you wipe out poverty and hunger?

By dressing up like a duck and listening to a One Direction video.

It's about the size of an "energy shot." You take it just like a shot of whiskey — bottoms up.

But this little ounce-and-a-half of liquid is more potent than caffeine or alcohol.

It's a cheap, oral vaccine against cholera. It could prevent deadly outbreaks, like the current one in Haiti that has killed nearly 10,000 people.

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"Spice" or "spike" are the innocuous names for a cheap, unpredictable drug that emergency rooms across the country are struggling to handle.

Reporter Steve Featherstone has watched patients overdose on synthetic marijuana in several hospitals in Syracuse, N.Y., where emergency room doctors are overwhelmed by the outbreak. He tells NPR's Kelly McEvers about his reporting for a piece in the New York Times Magazine, titled "Spike Nation."

If you're one of the 29 million Americans who regularly take ibuprofen, naproxen or similar drugs for pain, you may be scratching your head a bit over the latest word out of the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has strengthened its words of caution for people who use these nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, but in a way that may be confusing.

Government audits just released as the result of a lawsuit detail widespread billing errors in private Medicare Advantage health plans going back years, including overpayments of thousands of dollars a year for some patients.

Update 12:04 PM Friday: The House passed the 21st Century Cures Act Friday morning. The vote was 344 to 77.

Original post: The House of Representatives is planning to consider a bill Friday that could give a big cash infusion to medical research, which has been struggling in recent years. But the bill would also tweak the government's drug approval process in a way that makes some researchers nervous.

Despite those worries, many scientists are cheering on the legislation.

commons.wikimedia.org/ParentingPatch

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, and the insurance marketplace in Illinois - more contraceptives are available at no cost to women who are covered under the plans. But there is still confusion when it comes to just what methods are included. 

We've all been there before: headache, dizziness, sore throat. Uh-oh! Better Google the symptoms or maybe try WebMD's online symptom checker to see what's wrong.

But how accurate are these online symptoms checkers, anyway?

Turns out, millions of people are entrusting their health to some pretty lousy diagnostic systems.

On the big screen, Hazel and Gus, the teenage couple from The Fault in Our Stars, walk the streets of Amsterdam hand in hand, sip champagne at a fancy restaurant and gaze at each other lovingly on a park bench overlooking a canal. For a moment, you almost forget that Hazel has thyroid cancer and Gus has osteosarcoma.

Over the last few years, Oregon has quietly become something of a center for women willing to carry children for those unable to get pregnant. There are several reasons for that: lenient laws, a critical mass of successful fertility clinics and a system for amending a birth certificate pre-birth.

But surrogacy arrangements are often informal agreements and they can go wrong. A surrogate may face unexpected medical bills, or the intended parents may change their mind.

Some antidepressants may increase the risk of birth defects if taken early in pregnancy, while others don't seem to pose the same risks, a study finds.

The question of whether antidepressants can cause birth defects has been debated for years, and studies have been all over the map. That makes it hard for women and their doctors to make decisions on managing depression during pregnancy.

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