NPR Health

Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started looking for dangerous bacteria in a few of America's most beloved fresh foods: parsley, cilantro, basil, and prepared guacamole. The very freshness of these foods carries a risk. Since they aren't normally cooked, they may harbor nasty bugs like salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

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The chemical BPA isn't living up to its nasty reputation.

A two-year government study of rats found that even high doses of the plastic additive produced only "minimal effects," and that these effects could have occurred by chance.

The finding bolsters the Food and Drug Administration's 2014 assessment that water bottles and other products containing BPA are not making people sick.

I think I'm coming down with something.

Usually that means I prepare a mug of tea, add a spoonful of honey kept solely for such occasions, and add a dash of lemon juice. This elixir, I've been told, will soothe my sore throat and coax my raspy voice back to normalcy. But does it actually work?

No One's Quite Sure Why Lassa Fever Is On The Rise

6 hours ago

Nigeria is tough on diseases.

With help from a few partners, it stopped Ebola's spread. It wrestled guinea-worm disease into a headlock, with no new cases since 2013. And it's nearly eradicated the transmission of polio.

But now a disease that usually just lurks in the background has roared into headlines. Since the beginning of the year, there's been a particularly large outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria's southern provinces.

One of the most common reasons patients head to an emergency room is pain. In response, doctors may try something simple at first, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. And, at least up until recently, if that isn't effective, the second line of attack has been the big guns.

"Percocet or Vicodin," says Dr. Peter Bakes, an emergency medicine specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo. "Medications that certainly have contributed to the rising opioid epidemic."

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Arik Hartmann's TED Talk

As treatments for HIV have advanced, the stigmas surrounding it have not diminished as quickly. Arik Hartmann argues for more transparency to tackle misperceptions surrounding HIV.

About Arik Hartmann

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Nikki Webber Allen's TED Talk

After her nephew's suicide, Nikki Webber Allen began to speak out about mental illness — including her own. She explains why the stigma keeps people, particularly people of color, from seeking help.

About Nikki Webber Allen

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Confronting Stigma.

About Johann Hari's TED Talk

To stop illegal drug use, we typically punish, isolate and shame addicts. Journalist Johann Hari explains how these methods perpetuate addiction, and how human connection can be an effective antidote.

About Johann Hari

In Great Britain, midwives deliver half of all babies, including Kate Middleton's first two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Tens of thousands of years ago, the first artists painted images on the walls of caves. They collected, painted and ground holes in shells, presumably to wear. It was the very first art, created by what we call "modern humans," or Homo sapiens.

A quarter of a million Americans die every year from sepsis, which is the body's reaction to overwhelming infection. This cascade of organ failure can be nipped in the bud if health care workers know it's ramping up, but that's often not easy to do.

The blind have descended in droves on the Bisidimo Hospital in Eastern Ethiopia.

The Himalayan Cataract Project is hosting a mass cataract surgery campaign at the medical compound that used to be a leper colony. For one week a team from the nonprofit has set up seven operating tables in four operating rooms and they're offering free cataract surgery to anyone who needs it.

On the first day of the campaign it's clear that the need is great.

Fig and pomegranate trees, grapes, carrots, and narcissus flowers are some of the plants that Aveen Ismail likes to grow in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq where she lives. That's because these plants remind her of Syria and home.

At first, Ismail did not find the dry land welcoming. But she values greenery and gardening, so she cultivated a small patch of land next to the house her family built in the camp.

Back in October 2017, women took to social media to share their experiences of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement went viral, spurring a national and global discussion on the issue.

Many women have since come forward with their experiences of being sexually harassed by colleagues and bosses, costing influential men in the entertainment industry and the media — including journalists here at NPR — their jobs.

This story of a man who nearly died in the hospital actually started in the woods of Washington's Cascade Mountains last summer.

"I was cutting for a logging outfit up on these rock cliffs and I felled a 150-foot fir tree into [some] maple trees," says Kristopher Kelly, a 51-year-old lumberjack. The maples "had a bunch of dead tops — they call 'em widow makers," Kelly says. "You don't want to get under them because they'll make you a widow."

Shaorong Deng is sitting up in bed at the Hangzhou Cancer Hospital waiting for his doctor. Thin and frail, the 53-year-old construction worker's coat drapes around his shoulders to protect against the chilly air.

Deng has advanced cancer of the esophagus, a common form of cancer in China. He went through radiation and chemotherapy, but the cancer kept spreading.

Measles is highly contagious, but easily preventable with a vaccine.

However, the numbers of measles cases jumped sharply in Europe in 2017, according to new data released by the World Health Organization.

In 2017, the disease affected 21,315 people, compared with 5,273 in 2016. Last year, 35 people died in Europe because of measles.

The number of new HIV cases reported in the Philippines has surged over the last few years, according the country's health agency. In 2007, fewer than 400 new cases were reported; in 2017, more than 11,000 new cases were identified.

NPR's "Take A Number" series is exploring problems around the world — and solutions — through the lens of a single number.

One of the places many people are first prescribed opioids is a hospital emergency room. But in one of the busiest ERs in the U.S., doctors are relying less than they used to on oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other opioids to ease patients' pain.

If you need cataract surgery, your eye surgeon may have to do double duty as your anesthetist under a new policy by health insurer Anthem. In a clinical guideline released this month, the company says it's not medically necessary to have an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist on hand to administer and monitor sedation in most cases.

Some ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists say the policy jeopardizes patient safety, and they are calling on Anthem to rescind it.

The Trump administration wants to allow insurance companies to offer more policies that have limited health benefits and that can reject customers if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the plans, which don't meet the legal requirements for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, will allow consumers who can't afford insurance now to find cheaper plans.

A grocery store's baby formula aisle often stocks an overwhelming number of options. Aside from different brands of pastel-hued tins and tubs, there are specialized formulas — some for spit-up reduction, gas or colic. And in the past decade or so, companies have introduced formulas meant for toddlers who are leaving bottles behind.

It's shaping up to be one of the worst flu seasons in years.

If you are one of the thousands of Americans who are sick with the flu, this one's for you.

Why The AR-15?

Feb 19, 2018

After nearly every mass shooting, a few words are repeated over and over: Thoughts. Prayers. AR-15.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Food scientists at the University of Massachussetts Amherst have come up with a technique they say could make it a lot easier to avoid food poisoning.

The main piece of equipment? Your smartphone.

Currently, to identify the bacteria that can get you sick, like E. coli or salmonella, food scientists often use DNA testing.

They obtain samples from, say, raw spinach or chicken skin, by rinsing the food and collecting a tiny bit of bacteria from the water. Then they let that bacteria multiply over 24 hours to get a big enough sample.

After Virginia Harrod was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2014, she had a double mastectomy. Surgeons also removed 16 lymph nodes from under her armpit and the area around her breast, to see how far the cancer had spread and to determine what further treatment might be needed. Then she underwent radiation therapy.

Beer has fueled a lot of bad ideas. But on a Friday afternoon in 2007, it helped two Alzheimer's researchers come up with a really a good one.

In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology.

The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon.

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