Health Desk

Women are saving a lot of money as a result of a health law requirement that insurance cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket costs, a study finds. But the amount of those savings and the speed with which the savings accrued surprised researchers.

One of the great successes in the war on cancer has been the steep decline in the death rate from colorectal cancer.

Since 1970, the colorectal cancer death rate per 100,000 Americans has been cut in half, falling to 15.1 in 2011 from 29.2 in 1970.

Increased screening, improvements in treatment and changes in risk factors (such as a drop in smoking) have contributed to the dramatic reduction.

In 2000 the world's leaders agreed on an ambitious plan to drastically reduce global poverty by 2015. Called the Millennium Development Goals, the targets spurred an unprecedented aid effort that brought lifesaving medicines and vaccines to millions of people and helped slash the share of people in the developing world who live in extreme poverty from 47 percent in 1990 to 14 percent today.

Recognizing they lacked votes in a key Assembly committee, authors of legislation that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to legally end their lives pulled the bill Tuesday morning.

Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you.

Even if you're not counting your calories, date night at that restaurant down the street is still a more healthful choice than McDonald's, right?

Don't count on it.

Dining out at a sit-down restaurant can mean far more sodium in your diet-- and nearly as much saturated fat — as eating at a fast-food joint, according to a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What's more, people consumed more calories when they sat down for their meal at a full-service place rather than taking it to go, the study found.

Here's more evidence that mammograms don't always deliver the results that women want. They find more small cancers, but don't lower a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer, a study finds.

The study looked at data from 547 U.S. counties that reported the percentage of women over age 40 who had a screening mammogram between 1998 and 2000. More than 16 million women lived in those counties, and 53,207 were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000.

Over the next 10 years, 15 percent of the women died of breast cancer.

When Jennifer Glass goes to Sacramento on Tuesday to deliver testimony in favor of the California End-of-Life-Options Act, the trip will require some complex logistics.

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she felt performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients.

It looks nothing like what we see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal.

"I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life," she says. "I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, goodbye.' Because I knew that it very likely not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone's life."

A woman has HIV. She becomes pregnant. What are the chances that she can deliver a baby who is not infected?

In some countries, like Yemen, for example, only 11 percent of pregnant women with HIV receive treatment to prevent their babies from being infected. For women who aren't part of that fortunate group, the chance of passing HIV to their infant is as high as 45 percent.

Nothing like a good measles outbreak to get people thinking more kindly about vaccines.

One third of parents say they think vaccines have more benefit than they did a year ago, according to a poll conducted in May.

That's compared to the 5 percent of parents who said they now think vaccines have fewer benefits and 61 percent who think the benefits are the same.

A nurse practitioner in Connecticut pleaded guilty in June to taking $83,000 in kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing its high-priced drug to treat cancer pain. In some cases, she delivered promotional talks attended only by herself and a company sales representative.

It was a historic term, a surprisingly liberal term — and a nasty term.

That's the essence of the tea-leaf reading about the U.S. Supreme Court term that just concluded. Astonishingly — though the court is dominated by conservative justices — the liberal minority, disciplined and united, drove the direction in a startling number of cases, while the conservatives splintered into multiple factions.

When Kate Klein began working as a nurse in the Cleveland Clinic's Neurointensive Care Unit, one of the first things she noticed was that her patients spent a lot of time in bed. She knew patients with other injuries benefitted from getting up and moving early on, and she wondered why not patients with brain injuries.

"I asked myself that question. I asked my colleagues that question," Klein says. "Why aren't these patients getting out of bed? Is there something unique about patients with neurologic injury?"

For just a few minutes, I'm standing in the streets of Kathmandu. Families pick through the rubble left behind by April's devastating earthquake. I take in the sounds of metal clanking, of footsteps and chattering. A few people walk by, staring straight at me.

I want to help — but can't.

What do we know about the power of food to rev up sex drive? Not much.

"Really, science has not figured out what determines sexual motivation and sexual attraction. If we knew the answer to that, we'd probably be richer than Pfizer after they invented Viagra," says Dolores Lamb, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

She hasn't seen any compelling evidence that any particular food can intensify desire.

For the The Post and Courier, the newspaper in Charleston, S.C., it's been a crazy three months. The regional paper has been driving the coverage of the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church.

The Los Angeles Police Department's mental evaluation unit is the largest mental health policing program of its kind in the nation, with 61 sworn officers and 28 mental health workers from the county.

The unit has become a vital resource for the 10,000-person police force in Los Angeles.

Officer Ted Simola and his colleagues in the unit work with county mental health workers to provide crisis intervention when people with mental illness come into contact with police.

In what could prove the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry, Aetna has announced a $37 billion deal to acquire rival Humana.

The agreement, announced by the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, "would bolster Aetna's presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families," according to The Associated Press.

When The Fish You Eat Have Eaten Something Toxic

Jul 3, 2015

Some tasty saltwater fish carry a toxin that you may never have heard of.

And a recent study found that more people in Florida may be getting sick from eating fish contaminated with the toxin than previously thought.

By comparing Florida public health records with survey results from thousands of fishermen, scientists from the University of Florida found that ciguatera fish poisoning, as the condition is called, is significantly underreported in the state.

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Copyright 2015 WFYI-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wfyi.org.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Can racism cause post-traumatic stress? That's one big question psychologists are trying to answer, particularly in the aftermath of the shooting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and the recent incidents involving police where race was a factor.

What's clear is that many black Americans experience what psychologists call "race-based trauma," says Monnica Williams, director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville.

You can now order genetic tests off the Internet and get your child's genome sequenced for less than the cost of a new car. The question is, should you?

Almost certainly not, according to the American Society for Human Genetics, which released a position paper Thursday intended to give parents some help navigating the dizzying world of genetic tests.

How Salt + Car Battery = Clean Water

Jul 2, 2015

It's easy to take clean, safe water for granted. It just flows out of taps continuously — even in drought-ridden California.

But for hundreds of millions of people around the world, clean water is a luxury. In many places, even patients in hospitals and kids at school don't have water that's safe to drink.

Now, an unlikely partnership of an outdoor equipment manufacturer and a global health NGO is trying to change that.

Sure, playing in the women's World Cup burns a lot more energy than watching the women's World Cup. But the number of calories expended in sports and daily activities isn't always so obvious.

To figure it out, we dove into this database compiled by Arizona State University. It charts the energy expenditure for hundreds of activities, from mainstream ("bicycling, leisure, 5.5 mph") to obscure ("caulking, chinking log cabin").

Pages