NPR Health

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A big, new study found the risks of taking a low-dose aspirin every day outweighs the benefits. This is for otherwise healthy older people. What about the rest of us? NPR health correspondent Rob Stein joins us now to talk about it. Welcome to the studio, Rob.

Two years ago, Shivam Sharma rushed to a Mumbai hospital at 2:30 a.m. He'd had sex earlier that night with a man who was HIV positive. They'd used protection, but Sharma just wanted to be sure he was safe.

So he went straight to the emergency room and asked a junior doctor for a preventative dose of antiretroviral medicines, or PEP — post-exposure prophylaxis.

Hospital staff "were absolutely clueless," Sharma, 28, recalls. No one had ever asked for a PEP before, staff told him.

When researchers first discovered a link in the late 1990s between childhood adversity and chronic health problems later in life, the real revelation was how common those experiences were across all socioeconomic groups.

Shirley Avedon, 90,­­ had never been a cannabis user. But carpal tunnel syndrome, which sends shooting pains into both of her hands, and an aversion to conventional steroid and surgical treatments are prompting her to consider some new options.

"It's very painful; sometimes I can't even open my hand," Avedon says.

So for the second time in two months, she has climbed aboard a bus that provides seniors at the Laguna Woods Village retirement community in Orange County, Calif., with a free shuttle to a nearby marijuana dispensary.

Watching an infant propel herself across the floor on wheels in a saucer-shape baby walker may be as entertaining as a comedy episode. But because hospital emergency rooms treat more than 2,000 babies a year for injuries sustained while using these walkers, American pediatricians are repeating their decades-old call for a ban.

Many healthy Americans take a baby aspirin every day to reduce their risk of having a heart attack, getting cancer and even possibly dementia. But is it really a good idea?

Results released Sunday from a major study of low-dose aspirin contain a disappointing answer for older, otherwise healthy people.

Fake Bike Helmets: Cheap But Dangerous

Sep 16, 2018

Forget the fake Rolex watches sold on street corners. These days, most counterfeits are sold over the Internet, right into your home. And some of them could seriously hurt you.

Take bicycle helmets. If you don't use one, you probably have a child or relative who does. Bike helmets are meant to protect us if we ever have a serious fall.

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When Kate Sieloff's husband, Karl, began acting strange, she didn't know where to turn. Her hard-working, affectionate spouse was suddenly having fits of anger and aggression. He stopped paying the bills. Karl, 56 at the time, was an engineer at General Motors, where he'd worked for more than 40 years. But some days he didn't even show up for work, finding it too hard to get out of bed.

Editor's note: Given the subject this story explores, the discussion includes some explicit language.

Two sisters from a remote pastoral village in Puntland State, Somalia, died on Sept. 11 of complications from a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure.

An "inexperienced self-proclaimed traditional circumciser" performed the procedure the day before, according to Dr. Mohamed Hussein Aden, director of the University Teaching Hospital in Galkayo, Somalia, who sent an email with his comments to NPR.

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As Hurricane Florence hits North Carolina, Amanda McKee's only concern is for her animals at 1870 Farm outside Chapel Hill. McKee and her husband, David Schwartz, transformed the nearly 150-year-old farm, and another in Durham, into an agritourism destination that now houses horses, donkeys, a cow, alpacas, goats, sheep, chickens and a host of other animals, including a baby alpaca named Xanadu that lives with the family full time.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

More than 100 people were waiting to be rescued from homes and vehicles Friday morning in New Bern, N.C., after Hurricane Florence brought severe flooding to the area. Officials say more than 100 people have already been rescued in the area overnight.

Six swift water rescue teams have been working since Thursday afternoon to evacuate individuals and families, in some cases, from the roofs of their homes, the New Bern Public Information Officer Colleen Roberts said Friday afternoon.

It's early in the morning and 20-year-old Aaron Reid looks like he's sleepwalking.

His head nods forward and he shuffles a bit as he heads toward the pediatric clinic at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Reid, who has been fighting leukemia since he was 9-years old, is experiencing intense pain.

He can't say much at the moment, so his mother, Tracie Glascox, speaks for him. "He's been complaining of pain in his ankles, his knees and his arms," she tells the nurse.

Botham Jean was remembered Thursday for his dedication to service, his deep faith, and for having a ready smile and an open heart. He will be buried in Saint Lucia, but the service in Texas was a chance for American friends to say goodbye.

"A friend is the family that you choose. And let me tell you Botham chose everyone," said his friend Alexis Stossel. "If Botham was in this room, nobody would ever feel left out."

Audie Cornish talks with Dr. Leana Wen, who is leaving her job as Baltimore Health Commissioner to become the president of Planned Parenthood.

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Government scientists have presented new evidence that the plastic additive BPA isn't a health threat.

Low doses of the chemical given to hundreds of rats, "did not elicit clear, biologically plausible adverse effects," said K. Barry Delclos, a research pharmacologist at the Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research.

Kentucky County Water Crisis

Sep 13, 2018

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Starting next year, Medicare Advantage plans will be able to add restrictions on expensive, injectable drugs administered by doctors to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration and other serious diseases.

17 Apps To Help You Get Through The Hurricane

Sep 13, 2018

In addition to getting flashlights, bottled water and food, hurricane preparation these days includes stockpiling apps on your phone. For those in the path of Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina, having the right apps can be lifeline during and after the storm. Here are some apps — mostly free — that are useful to download if you're in a hurricane zone:

For immediate assistance:

Almost 20 years ago, a mentally ill man named Andrew Goldstein pushed Kendra Webdale into an oncoming train in New York City. She was killed instantly and Goldstein, who’d suffered from schizophrenia since childhood, was sent to prison.

The crime caught national attention, reinvigorating a debate about the care of people with severe mental illnesses.

Farmer Gao Yongfei is paying much closer attention to his more than 5,000 pigs than ever before.

That's because hundreds of pigs at farms nearby are dying from a mysterious virus, and Gao and his staff are now vigilantly checking his herd for symptoms of African swine fever.

"You know the pig is sick if its mouth has turned dark and it's acting crazy," says the 64-year-old owner of Yongfei Livestock Farm. "When you find a pig that has the fever, you need to slaughter it immediately."

The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. It's the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker, Purdue Pharma, faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis.

States serve as "laboratories of democracy," as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said. And states are also labs for health policy, launching all kinds of experiments lately to temper spending on pharmaceuticals.

No wonder. Drugs are one of the fastest rising health care costs for many consumers and are a key reason health care spending dominates many state budgets — crowding out roads, schools and other priorities.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

Dr. Leana Wen, the health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, has been named the new president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

It will be the first time in nearly five decades that a doctor is the head of Planned Parenthood, according to the organization. She's replacing longtime President Cecile Richards, who announced in January that she would be stepping down.

The Food and Drug Administration announced a set of major new enforcement actions Wednesday aimed at reducing the sales and marketing of electronic cigarettes to teenagers.

Saying vaping among teenagers has reached "an epidemic proportion," the agency said it was taking a "series of critical and historic" measures to curb the alarming trends.

Cristina Rivell has been struggling with an opioid addiction since she was a teenager — going in and out of rehab for five years. The most recent time, her doctor prescribed her a low dose of buprenorphine (often known by its brand name, Suboxone), a drug that helps curb cravings for stronger opioids and prevents the symptoms of withdrawal.

More Older Americans Are Turning To Marijuana

Sep 12, 2018

Members of the generation that came of age in the era of marijuana are reaching for weed in their golden years.

A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence this month suggests that increasing numbers of middle aged and older adults are using marijuana — and using it a lot.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn't share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists' efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people's unusual propensity to help others.

Kids with ADHD are easily distracted. Barn owls are not.

So a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is studying these highly focused predatory birds in an effort to understand the brain circuits that control attention.

The team's long-term goal is to figure out what goes wrong in the brains of people with attention problems, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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