NPR News

Pages

Shots - Health News
5:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Trading Walkathons For Ice Buckets, Charities Try To Hold On To Donors

A big crowd turned out for the March of Dimes walkathon in Gainesville in early March. But overall, the March of Dimes' March for Babies raised $3.5 million less in 2014 than it did the year before.
Elizabeth Hamilton Gainesville Sun/Landov

Springtime means outdoor charity events, and there are plenty to choose from.

You can walk, run, bike, swim or even roll around in the mud to raise money for a cause. But some of the bigger, more established events aren't doing as well as they used to, and charities are trying to adjust.

Read more
Health
5:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Arizona Requires Doctors To Say Abortion Pill Is Reversible

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

Politics
5:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Margaret Hamburg Ends Six-Year Run As FDA Commissioner

Margaret Hamburg ended her run this week as one of the longest serving Food and Drug Administration commissioners in recent decades. NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with her about her accomplishments and challenges while in office.

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

The Salt
4:57 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Navajos Fight Their Food Desert With Junk Food And Soda Taxes

A price comparison of Spam and fresh fruit in a grocery store in Navajo Nation. According to the DinΓ© Community Advocacy Alliance, the vast majority of the inventory at reservation stores would be considered "junk food" under the new tax law.
Courtesy of Denisa Livingston

More than 30 cities and states across the country have attempted to tax soda. Nearly all have failed.

Now, a community of about 250,000 people has found a way to tax not just sugary beverages, but also junk food. At the same time, it's making fresh produce more affordable in one of the hardest regions in the U.S. to buy it.

Read more
Health
4:39 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Germanwings Crash Highlights Workplace Approaches To Mental Health

Last week's plane crash in the French Alps has focused attention on what Lufthansa knew about the co-pilot's mental health condition. Airlines and other employers have to navigate a thicket of issues that balance an employee's rights to privacy against the potential risk and safety issues that a mentally sick patient could pose.

Goats and Soda
3:41 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

A Virus In Your Mouth Helps Fight The Flu

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 6:07 pm

Hidden inside all of us are likely thousands of viruses β€” maybe more. They just hang out, harmlessly. We don't even know they're there.

But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.

Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday. In mice, the virus directly stops influenza itself.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:11 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Diagnosing A Sinus Infection Can Be A DIY Project

This is what the inflammation of sinus infection looks like in a false-color X-ray. It hurts even more in real life.
CNRI Science Source

Sinus infections are miserable, and it's hard not to want to run to the doctor for relief. Rethink that, the nation's ear, nose and throat doctors say.

Most people who get sinusitus feel better in a week, the doctors say, and many of those infections are caused by viruses. Getting an antibiotic isn't going to help.

Read more
Shots - Health News
10:09 am
Wed April 1, 2015

To Avoid Surprise Insurance Bills, Tell Exchange Plan When You Move

If you thought more experience with the heath insurance marketplaces would cut down on confusion about them, you'd be wrong. The questions about how they work keep pouring in. Here are answers to some of the latest queries.

I purchased health insurance in Ohio through the marketplace in April. I then moved to Missouri and applied for marketplace coverage there that began in October. I had assumed that the Ohio marketplace would cancel my coverage there, but that didn't happen. What should I do?

Read more
Consumer
3:53 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Tobacco Firm Seeks Softer Warning For Cigarette Alternative

Will this maker of snus, an alternative to cigarettes, be allowed to claim it is less harmful?
Swedish Match

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 2:30 pm

The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to allow a tobacco company to do something it's never done before β€” claim that one of its products is less risky than cigarettes.

The company, Swedish Match of Stockholm, has applied to the FDA to designate its General brand of snus (rhymes with "loose") as safer than other versions of tobacco.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:05 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

IRS Head Says So Far, So Good For Obamacare's First Tax Season

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service says everything has gone smoothly as, for the first time, taxpayers have to report their compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:36 pm

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act five years ago, but it didn't impose tax penalties for failure to obtain health insurance until this year.

So a big question has hung over this tax-filing season: Would the ACA unleash mass confusion as Americans grappled with new tax rules?

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen today said that so far at least, all has gone "swimmingly."

And for that, we can thank software geeks, he says.

Read more
Health
4:46 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Germanwings Co-Pilot Shines Light On Opaqueness Of Mental Illness

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 9:00 pm

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Dr. Michael C. Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, about how someone's deep inner turmoil can remain hidden from coworkers, neighbors and casual friends.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Tweeners Trust Peers More Than Adults When Judging Risks

Jump off a roof? Ride a bike while texting? Well, what do you think?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:33 pm

If you are the parent of a preteen, you are all too aware that they suddenly seem to value the opinions of their peers far more than yours.

The good news, if there is any, is that you're not alone. Young teenagers ages 12 to 14 are more influenced by their peers' opinions than they are by adults', a study finds. That's true only for that age group, not for older teens, children or adults.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:11 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Hackers Teach Computers To Tell Healthy And Sick Brain Cells Apart

The Allen Institute for Brain Science hosted its first BigNeuron Hackathon in Beijing earlier this month. Similar events are planned for the U.S. and U.K.
Courtesy of Allen Institute for Brain Science

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 10:03 am

Brain researchers are joining forces with computer hackers to tackle a big challenge in neuroscience: teaching computers how to tell a healthy neuron from a sick one.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:19 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Meet The Bacteria That Make A Stink In Your Pits

While you're resting, your armpit bacteria are hard at work pumping out stinky thioalcohols.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:32 pm

The human armpit has a lot to offer bacteria. It's moist, it's warm, and it's usually dark.

But when the bacteria show up, they can make a stink. That's because when some kinds of bacteria encounter sweat they produce smelly compounds, transforming the armpit from a neutral oasis to the mothership of body odor. And one group of bacteria is to blame for the stink, researchers say.

Read more
Goats and Soda
9:16 am
Tue March 31, 2015

The Challenge: Curb Violence In Most Violent City. Hint: Nuns Can Help

A police officer is silhouetted through the emergency room door at a public hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. With 91 murders per 100,000 people, the Central American nation is often called the most violent in the world. The homicide rate is roughly 20 times that of the U.S. rate, according to a 2011 U.N. report.
Esteban Felix AP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 2:50 pm

The most pressing health threat in the Latin American country of Honduras has nothing to do with germs or superbugs.

It's from the barrel of a gun.

Every day, patients with gunshot wounds seek treatment, overwhelming the country's few hospitals. Violence is the third leading cause of death in the country of 8.2 million people. For four years running now, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has ranked San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city in Honduras, as the world's most violent city.

So how do you stop it?

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:58 am
Tue March 31, 2015

No Easy, Reliable Way To Screen For Suicide

About twice a year, statistics suggest, a pilot somewhere in the world β€” usually flying alone β€” deliberately crashes a plane. The Germanwing flight downed last week may be one such case. But most people who fit the psychological profile of the pilots in these very rare events never have problems while flying.
Patrik Stollarz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:31 pm

Even a careful psychiatric examination of the co-pilot involved in last week's Germanwings jetliner crash probably would not have revealed whether he intended to kill himself, researchers say.

"As a field, we're not very good at accurately predicting who is at risk for suicidal behavior," says Matthew Nock, a psychology professor at Harvard. He says studies show that mental health professionals "perform no better than chance" when it comes to predicting which patients will attempt suicide.

Read more
Health
4:46 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

GNC Announces New Policy After Facing Scrutiny Over Mislabeled Products

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 6:23 pm

After a probe by the New York Attorney General's office, GNC has announced major new testing and quality control procedures. The dietary supplement retailer recently faced allegations of mislabeling its products.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
The Salt
3:41 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Our Food-Safety System Is A Patchwork With Big Holes, Critics Say

Walking through the warehouse of food processor Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb., shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour, and the smell of fresh-baked apple-cinnamon muffins floats in the air.

Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods β€” from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. That means business manager Mark Zink has to answer to both of the main U.S. food safety regulators, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:08 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Why Are More Baby Boys Born Than Girls?

There's a widely held assumption that a slight imbalance in male births has its start at the very moment of conception. But researchers say factors later in pregnancy are more likely to explain the phenomenon.
CNRI Science Source

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:31 pm

Scientists have found some unexpected clues that could help explain why 51 percent of the babies born in the United States are male.

It's been a mystery why that ratio isn't 50:50, since that's what basic biology would predict. But scientists have noticed a tilted sex ratio at birth since the 17th century.

The widely held assumption is that this imbalance starts at the very moment of conception β€” that more males are conceived than females.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:23 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Doctors With Cancer Push California To Allow Aid In Dying

Dan Swangard, a 48-year-old physician from San Francisco, was diagnosed in 2013 with a rare form of metastatic cancer.
Anna Gorman/KHN

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 2:55 pm

Dan Swangard knows what death looks like.

As a physician, he has seen patients die in hospitals, hooked to morphine drips and overcome with anxiety. He has watched death drag on for weeks or months as terrified relatives stand by helplessly.

Recently, however, his thoughts about how seriously ill people die have become personal. Swangard was diagnosed in 2013 with a rare form of metastatic cancer.

Read more
Goats and Soda
11:28 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Bill Gates Tells The World: Get Ready For The Next Epidemic

Health workers suit up for Ebola duty in Monrovia, Liberia.
John W. Poole/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 6:29 pm

"An epidemic is one of the few catastrophes that could set the world back drastically in the next few decades," Bill Gates warns in an essay he wrote for the March 18 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the article, titled "The Next Epidemic β€” Lessons From Ebola," he says the Ebola epidemic is a "wake-up call."

Read more
Around the Nation
6:52 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Congressional Panels Probe Opiate Prescriptions At Wis. VA Hospital

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 7:33 am

Copyright 2015 Wisconsin Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wpr.org.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:40 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Sure, Use A Treadmill Desk β€” But You Still Need To Exercise

NPR senior Washington editor Beth Donovan walks on a treadmill desk in her office in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:31 pm

First off, I need to be upfront: I have a treadmill desk. I got it about two years ago, prompted by all the studies showing the dangers of sitting all day. The idea is to get people more active and walking while working. The problem is, I don't use it. In fact, I probably only used it for a few months. I still stand all day, but I'm not walking.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:39 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Compression Clothing: Not The Magic Bullet For Performance

Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross pulls on compression sleeves before a 400-meter race at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul in 2012.
Martin Meissner AP

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 3:27 pm

Maybe you've seen them in the gym, or even squeezed into them yourself: super-tight T-shirts, leggings, knee and calf sleeves, even tube tops. More and more athletes are wearing compression garments, hoping they will improve their performance and recovery.

But do they work? This is a question Abigail Stickford, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, wanted to answer.

Read more
Shots - Health News
5:43 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Videos On End-Of-Life Choices Ease Tough Conversation

Hawaii ranks 49th in the nation for use of home health care services during the last six months of someone's life. Videos from ACP Decisions show patients what their options are at the end of life.
ACP Decisions

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 2:01 pm

Lena Katakura's father is 81. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and doctors don't expect him to survive the illness. Katakura says a nurse at their Honolulu hospital gave them a form to fill out to indicate what kind of treatment he'd want at the end of life.

Read more
Health
5:43 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Starting Families Later In Life Could Cause 'Grandparent Deficit'

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 10:29 pm

In a recent piece for Time magazine, Susanna Schrobsdorff presents an unexpected challenge for people starting families later in life. She tells NPR's Arun Rath about the variable she calls the grandparent deficit.

Read more
Shots - Health News
7:39 am
Sat March 28, 2015

Indiana's HIV Spike Prompts New Calls For Needle Exchanges Statewide

Needle exchange programs, like this one in Portland, Maine, offer free, sterile syringes and needles to drug users. The programs save money and lives, health officials say, by curtailing the spread of bloodborne infections, such as hepatitis and HIV.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 10:56 am

Shane Avery practices family medicine in Scott County, Ind. In December, a patient came to his office who was pregnant, and an injection drug user.

After running some routine tests, Avery found out that she was positive for HIV. She was the second case he had seen in just a few weeks.

"Right then, I kind of realized, 'Wow, are we on the tip of something?' " Avery says. "But you just put it away. ... It's statistically an oddity when you're just one little doctor, you know?"

Read more
On Aging
7:39 am
Sat March 28, 2015

At Aging Conference, Old Is The New Black

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 10:56 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JAILHOUSE ROCK")

ELVIS PRESLEY: (Singing) Warden threw a party in the county jail. The prison band was there, they began to wail.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESPECT")

Read more
The Salt
6:01 am
Sat March 28, 2015

Guess What Makes The Cut As A 'Smart Snack' In Schools? Hot Cheetos

Frito-Lay reformulated Flamin' Hot Cheetos, a perennial favorite among school kids, to meet new federal "Smart Snack" rules for schools.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 10:56 am

Flamin' Hot Cheetos might conjure a lot of descriptors: spicy, crunchy, unnaturally fiery red. But it's a good bet that "healthy" didn't exactly spring to mind.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:04 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Medical Bills Linger, Long After Cancer Treatment Ends

Melinda Townsend-Breslin holds a photo showing her and her mother standing in the parking lot of a favorite thrift store in 2013.
William DeShazer for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 9:33 am

Melinda Townsend-Breslin keeps a photo of herself on her refrigerator standing with her mother, MaryLou Townsend, in the front of the Unique Thrift Store in Louisville, Ky. They're side by side in the parking lot, both wearing white shirts and sporting short, practical haircuts.

Mom is proudly showing her discount card. "For the thrift store!" said Townsend-Breslin, laughing. "The discount for the thrift store!"

Read more

Pages