NPR Health

One week after the brilliant young quarterback Robert Griffin III blew out his right knee in an NFL playoff game, fans' questions have morphed from "How could this have happened?" to "When do we get him back?"

But figuring out when an athlete with damaged knee ligaments can get back in action is an inexact art at best, because medicine has yet to come up with a solid way to fix a knee.

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Are We A Nation Of 'Soul Food Junkies?'

Jan 14, 2013

Fried chicken, mac and cheese, and sweet potato pie! Soul food has drawn Americans to the table for generations. But is the greasy goodness doing more harm than good? Byron Hurt tackles the question in his new documentary 'Soul Food Junkies.'

If you live in a college town, you might have noticed that campus coffee shops are still buzzing late into the evening.

And that makes sense. New survey data from the NPD group, which tracks trends in what Americans eat and drink, finds that 18- to 24-year-olds are turning to coffee, rather than caffeinated sodas, as their pick-me-up of choice.

A smoldering epidemic already affects an estimated 4 million Americans, most of whom don't know it.

It's hepatitis C, an insidious virus that can hide in the body for two or three decades without causing symptoms — and then wreak havoc with the liver, scarring it so extensively that it can fail. Half of all people waiting for liver transplants have hepatitis C.

Phooey On Flu

Jan 12, 2013

A lot of you have had it by now, or are having it or are about to be exposed. This year's flu is called "H3N2" and this week it's doing big business in about 47 states, Chicago and New York. If you've had a flu shot and if you wash your hands several times a day for 20 seconds, (which is the time it takes to hum "Happy Birthday to You" two times through) you might reduce your odds of getting sick.

Not quite 10 months after Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, a more insidious disaster struck: cholera.

Haiti hadn't seen cholera for at least a century. Then suddenly, the first cases appeared in the central highlands near a camp for United Nations peacekeeping forces.

It's been only a few years since Congress granted the federal government the power to approve how tobacco products are made and sold in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.

But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, few would have predicted that one of the most contentious provisions would have to do with contraception.

But today federal officials are grappling with more than 40 lawsuits claiming that the requirement for most health plans to provide contraceptive coverage to women violates their religious freedom.

And religious groups aren't the only ones going to court.

Saturday marks the third anniversary of the powerful earthquake that destroyed much of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The quake killed roughly 200,000 people and left 1.5 million Haitians homeless.

Despite billions of dollars in international aid and pledges to help Haiti rebuild from the disaster, very little new, permanent housing has been built. And about 350,000 Haitians are still living in squalid, makeshift camps — where they face an array of health challenges.

The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked brioche is hard to resist, while a virtuous loaf of whole wheat often lacks that same allure. Blame it on the ferulic acid.

See, whole-wheat bread contains all parts of the wheat, including the bran, but white bread does not. That bran in the wheat bread contains the aforementioned ferulic acid, which overrides the compounds that give white bread its mouthwatering smell, according to new research.

Federal healthy officials said Friday there are some early signs this year's flu season may be easing in some parts of the country. But they stressed it's far too early to tell whether the flu season has peaked.

The number of states reporting widespread flu activity is up to 47, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But flu activity nationally fell slightly in the CDC's most recent data. Five states reported less flu than a week earlier, according to the CDC.

The Fallacies Of Fat

Jan 11, 2013

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Getting A Handle On Why Fingers Wrinkle

Jan 11, 2013

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Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with our Video Pick of the Week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: Now, we've got some digital research on this one. The other - the classic definition of digits, which...

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This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. Pap tests are routinely used to screen women for signs of cervical cancer, but now researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore say the tests might be able to detect ovarian and uterine cancers as well.

Why would the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the people who helped bring the world stealth fighters and GPS — fund research into man-made proteins that could make it easier for some Americans to eat pizza?

That's what we wondered when we read that the Pentagon's gee-whiz research arm provided support for work on a drug to treat celiac disease, a condition that interferes with the digestion of gluten in wheat and other foods.

So we asked.

The Buzz On Silent Retreats

Jan 11, 2013

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Drugmaker Merck just stuck a fork in a vitamin-based drug to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The company is withdrawing Tredaptive, a long-acting pill combining niacin (No. 3 in the long list of B vitamins) and laropiprant, a chemical that reduces the unpleasant skin flushing caused by high doses of niacin.

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

Evidence of loss remains even three years after a massive earthquake claimed the lives of as many as 200,000 people in Haiti. In the middle of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, there is a cathedral whose sun-washed walls reach into the sky where a roof used to be.

A lone flagpole marks the spot where the National Palace, a symbol of Haiti's government, once proudly stood.

And on a downtown street that once bustled with storefronts, there is now a row of vendors who sell their wares under tent poles and umbrellas.

An apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry.

"Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years," said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter who chronicled the alleged feud on his website. "It's just a ridiculous amount of problems that these two guys cause for everybody."

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Audie Cornish.

Florida and several other states are wrestling with a decision: whether to expand Medicaid.

When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act last year, the court said states could opt out of that part of the law. But it's key. It would provide coverage to millions of low-income Americans who currently have no health insurance.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he's concerned about how much expanding Medicaid would cost. But others charge the governor is exaggerating.

Not so long ago bilingualism was thought to be bad for your brain. But it looks more and more like speaking more than one language could help save you from Alzheimer's disease.

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The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it was requiring companies that make Ambien and similar sleeping pills to sharply cut the doses of the drugs.

We were warned that this year's flu season was likely to be a bad one, and now that forecast is starting to bear out.

If there's one thing we love more than talking about beef here at The Salt, it's visualizing the U.S.'s insatiable appetite for meat through infographics and charts.

So when we ran across Sarah Hallacher's Beef Stakes project over at Fast Company's Co.Design blog, our eyes lit up like the charcoal grill on Super Bowl Sunday.

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