NPR Health

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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Some kids can't get enough of online games where they can pretend to run a candy factory or decorate cakes. But children who play with these games may eat more, and eat more junk food, even if the game features fruit or other healthful choices, according to new research.

Caffeine In Supplements Varies Widely

Jan 9, 2013

Caffeine is pretty much everywhere. It's in coffee and tea, of course, but also pops up in mints, gum, jerky and even maple syrup.

During first period at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif., Kristen McCloskey leads about two dozen third-graders through some familiar yoga poses.

"All right, so let's do our opening sequence A," she says, instructing the kids. "Everyone take a big inhale, lift those arms up. Look up."

At the end of the half-hour class, 8-year-old Jacob Hagen says he feels energized and ready for the rest of the day. "Because you get to stretch out and it's good to be the first class because it wakes you up," he says.

Gonorrhea is one tough germ to beat.

Over the past 70 years, the bug has outwitted four classes of antibiotics, leaving just one set of drugs available to kill it.

Now there's more evidence that the arsenal against gonorrhea is shrinking again.

Canadian doctors have documented the first failure in North America of cefixime, the front-line antibiotic for gonorrhea.

Many a college student lives off of microwavable meals – but some do it not by choice but because they're worried school food might make them sick.

They may have celiac disease, a digestive ailment caused by gluten, or life-threatening allergies to foods like peanuts — both are on the rise. But even as more people become aware of the issues, schools and institutions may lag behind.

The Latest Science On Fat And Fitness

Jan 8, 2013

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Young And Doubly Insured: A Modern Health Dilemma

Jan 8, 2013

There may be worse problems to have, but overlapping health coverage can be a problem for young people nonetheless.

Many young adults have more health insurance options now that they can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26 under the administration's health law.

This year's flu season started about a month early, prompting federal health officials to warn it could be one of the worst in years. They're urging everyone to get their flu shots.

But like every flu season, there are lots of reports of people complaining that they got their shot but still got the flu. What's up with that?

Well, as Michael Jhung of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, there are lots of possible reasons.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the famed and widely cited case that legalized abortion. Yet across the country, states are continuing to approve restrictions.

With little fanfare, Virginia and Michigan Republican governors recently signed new abortion bills into law. Virginia's Bob McDonnell, in particular, quietly approved clinic regulations adopted by the state's Board of Health three months ago that hold abortion clinics to the same building standards as hospitals.

Are You Eating Too Fast? Ask Your Fork

Jan 7, 2013

What's the coolest new gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week? It's too soon to tell. But I have an early favorite for the title of oddest new gadget: the HAPIfork and HAPIspoon. They may sound like characters from a nursery rhyme, but this fork and spoon connect to the Internet and can monitor and record how you eat.

The HAPI utensils measure how long your meals last, how long you pause between each bite and how many mouthfuls of food you consume.

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Ask any obstetrician, babies want to come out only when they're good and ready.

At least 39 weeks after conception is the goal. But some babies bust out early, and others take longer — sometimes much longer.

Concern Rises Over Hugo Chavez's Health

Jan 7, 2013

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