Health Desk

White women are dying at a slightly younger age than in the past. That's according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The National Institutes of Health has suspended work in two facilities that manufacture products given to people who are enrolled in research studies, saying the facilities haven't complied with safety standards designed to protect already-sick people from inappropriate risks.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group says it will stop selling insurance on Obamacare exchanges in most states starting next year.

In a Tuesday call detailing UnitedHealth's first quarter earnings, CEO Stephen Hemsley said the company would "remain only in a handful of states," after losing money on the individual health plans it sold on state exchanges.

With the Zika virus spreading through Latin American and into U.S. territory, lots of researchers want to pursue projects to help fight the disease.

But there's one problem: money.

Or rather, getting money to researchers. President Obama has requested $1.9 billion from Congress to fight Zika, but this appeal is being held up by a vote in Congress. In the interim, the White House redirected $510 million from federal money left over from the response to Ebola.

"It is unbelievable, sir."

That's how NPR contributor Wilbur Sargunaraj characterizes the heat that is gripping parts of his native India. "It's just getting worse and worse and worse, and people are suffering."

If you're like most people in North America, you probably spend most of your time indoors. Leave home in the morning, drive to work, stay in your cube all day, head home again. Ninety percent of our lives are spent inside a built environment of some kind – ones that we share with millions of invisible microbes.

Scientists increasingly recognize that rooms and buildings have their own microbiomes, and that those microbial roommates may affect the health of human inhabitants. Those microbes vary depending on what city you're in, according to a study published Tuesday.

To show that the tainted water in Flint, Mich., is safe when filtered, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he will be drinking it for the next month when he's at home and at work.

During a visit to Flint on Monday, Snyder said he visited a family's home and drank filtered tap water, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Picture a dusty, nomadic herdsman around 5000 B.C., trudging with his mare somewhere in Central Asia, and pausing to quaff a refreshingly tart yogurt drink from his gourd. Fast-forward to the present day, and it seems all you need for your daily dose of friendly flora is to wander into the kitchen and pop a breakfast burrito in the microwave.

Denise Johnson works two jobs, but neither of them offers health insurance to part-timers like her. She signed up for a marketplace plan this year, but for routine medical care Johnson still goes to the free clinic near her home in Charlottesville, Va.

The problem is her plan's deductible of at least $1,000. She can't recall the precise figure, but it doesn't really matter. "It's absolutely high," said Johnson, 58. "Who can afford that?" She struggles to pay her $28 monthly premium.

Tributes continue to flood in for celebrated Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibe, who died of complications from diabetes in Bamako on April 14, at 80.

Mali's culture minister, N'Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, says Sidibe was a national treasure and an important part of their cultural heritage, whose loss the entire country is mourning.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The city of Boston and the friends and family members of the marathon bombing victims will never forget the day when two explosions ripped through the crowd at the race, killing three people and injuring more than 200. Neither will the family of Sunil Tripathi, but for very different reasons. Their story is told in the documentary film Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.

Insurance giant United Healthcare Group has griped that the Obamacare insurance exchanges for health coverage are money-losers and has threatened to stop selling plans on them.

United Healthcare's latest move is to drop out of the Obamacare insurance market in Oklahoma in 2017. It's the fourth state that the company is abandoning because it says selling insurance plans on exchanges there is unprofitable.

When it comes to getting old, some of us are a lot better at it than others. If I'm going to live to be 95 I would much prefer to be healthy, cogent and content. So I want to know the secrets of the healthy and very old.

Fortunately, scientists are starting to figure that out, "The good news is that there's a lot we can do about it," says Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, a geriatrician and scientific director at the National Institute on Aging. He wants to see more and more people in that state of "aging grace."

If you melt at the creaminess of full-fat yogurt, read on.

A new study finds the dairy fats found in milk, yogurt and cheese may help protect against Type 2 diabetes.

Erika Stallings' mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28. When it came back in her early 40s, her physicians started looking for clues.

"That's when the doctors realized there may be something genetic going on, and that's when she was tested, and found out she was a carrier for BRCA2," says Stallings.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes. Carrying a mutated BRCA gene increases a person's risk for developing certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer.

When they wouldn't hire her because she was a woman, she threatened her superiors. When the media asked her a stupid question, she gave them an earful. And when she thought she had contracted HIV/AIDS, she said, "if that's what happened, that's what happened."

Starting today, 155 countries and territories will start switching to a different polio vaccine.

The shift, which is expected to be completed by May 1, is the "largest and fastest globally coordinated rollout of a vaccine into routine immunization programs in history," according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Imagine this. You're a 15-year-old student in a remote village with maybe a couple of hundred residents, miles from the nearest town. There's no TV. Cellphone service is spotty. The dirt road to your village floods regularly. Your link to the outside world is the family wind-up radio.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A Baby Boom In A Refugee Camp Is A Mixed Blessing

Apr 16, 2016

After their first child was born in 2014, Mohammed Salameh, 22, and his wife Khoulod Ahmad Suleiman, 21, planned to throw a small party for family and friends with walnuts and cups of hot cinnamon, as is customary in their hometown of Dara'a in southwestern Syria.

But when they learned that a cousin in Syria had been killed in fighting the same day, they cancelled the festivities.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When it comes to the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, bacteria get almost all the attention.

Foods made with corn masa flour — like tortillas, tacos and tamales — could soon play a critical role in the health of babies born to Latina mothers in the U.S.

That's because, as of today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now allowing manufacturers to fortify their corn masa foods with folic acid. That's a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent severe defects of the brain and spinal cord when consumed by women before and early in pregnancy.

It was a hospital — but to psychologist Inka Weissbecker it looked more like a prison. She had come to South Sudan to check out the country's only health facility for treating patients with mental illness.

"There was a hallway leading past these cells with bars on them," she recalls. "Behind one set of bars I saw a mattress covered in plastic. And on it was urine and feces — and this woman lying with her face to the wall. I don't know if she was dead or just sleeping. Nobody seemed to care."

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Doctors know it's important to talk with their patients about end-of-life care.

But they're finding it tough to start those conversations. When they do, they're not sure what to say, according to a national poll released Thursday.

Zika's arrival in the U.S. this summer seems almost inevitable, health officials keep saying.

The virus has already touched down in northern Mexico and Puerto Rico. And just this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of states with virus-carrying mosquitoes was larger than previously thought.

So the looming question is: Once Zika is here, how big will the outbreak be?

Step into Mike Moon's Madison, Wis., coffee roasting plant and the aroma of beans — from Brazil to Laos — immediately washes over you.

Moon says he aims to run an efficient and safe plant — and that starts the minute beans spill out of the roaster. He points to a cooling can that is "designed to draw air from the room over the beans and exhausts that air out of the facility. So it is really grabbing a lot of all of the gases coming off the coffee," he explains.

Pages