There's something unsettling — freakish, even — about Lawrie Brown's photos of everyday meals.
In one photo, the California-based photographer has placed a shockingly blue raw chicken atop a bed of rice and peas. In another, pink cereal puffs float in a sea of yellow milk. And Brown slathers three hefty scoops of green ice cream with purple fudge in a third, with blood-red cherries as garnish. Other photos in her "Colored Food Series" feature green corn, blue crackers and green spaghetti.
After months of focusing on how many people have or haven't signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone's keen to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people?
Unfortunately, the answers to some of these questions simply aren't knowable — or, at least, not knowable yet.
Returning to watch the Boston Marathon was never a question for Heather Abbott. After losing her leg in the bombing last year, watching the race is just one item on a long list of things she did before and intends to do again. Also on that list: wearing 4-inch heels.
"Sometimes, I think: Why am I doing this to myself? Because I could just wear regular flat shoes," Abbott says. "I don't want to give things up that I love to do, so I'm going to get used to it and figure it out."
When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose in February, the New York City medical examiner ruled that his death was the result of "acute mixed drug intoxication." Heroin, cocaine and a widely prescribed class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or benzos, were found in his system.
The dangerous practice of mixing benzodiazepines and opiates doesn't just lie with people like Sayra Small, who was abusing heroin. New research suggests that part of the problem may lie with primary care doctors who are prescribing a mix of benzos for anxiety and opioids for pain.
Those are the findings of Dr. Sean Mackey. He joins us now. He is the chief of pain medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. Welcome to the program.
Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 4:29 pm
If you bought health coverage through one of the online insurance marketplaces, you might have a tough time determining whether your plan covers abortion services.
Though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got an earful from members of Congress about the problem at a hearing last November, little's been done yet to clear up the confusion in some states.
Want to know how many people have signed up for private insurance under Obamacare? Like the health care law itself, the answer is complicated.
The Obama administration is tracking the number of plans purchased on HealthCare.gov and on the state exchanges, and this month reported that it had exceeded expectations by signing up 7.5 million people. In addition, federal officials have said that 3 million people have enrolled in Medicaid this year.
We've all heard the advice to eat more whole grains, and cut back on refined starches.
And there's good reason. Compared with a diet heavy on refined grains, like white flour, a diet rich in whole grains — which includes everything from brown rice to steel-cut oats to farro — is linked to lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
There are lots of theories about why food allergies, asthma, celiac disease and intestinal disorders like Crohn's disease have been on the rise. Dr. Martin Blaser speculates that it may be connected to the overuse of antibiotics, which has resulted in killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.
Blaser is an expert on the human microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in and on the body. In fact, up to 90 percent of all the cells in the human body aren't human at all — they're micro-organisms.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. There has been a lot of progress in reducing the number of teen pregnancies over the last few decades. Rates have declined across all ethnic groups. But according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control, the teen birthrate among Hispanics is stubbornly high.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Some surprising news now about vitamin D. According to two major reviews in the British Medical Journal published last week, people with low levels of vitamin D could be more likely to die from cancer, heart disease and a number of other illnesses.
Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered.
To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer.
An automated pot-selling machine was unveiled at an event held at an Avon, Colo., restaurant Saturday, promising a potential new era of selling marijuana and pot-infused snacks from vending machines directly to customers.
Its creators say the machine, called the ZaZZZ, uses biometrics to verify a customer's age. The machine is climate-controlled to keep its product fresh.
I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.
I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.
Laurel Francoeur's son Jeremy was about a year old when he had his first life- threatening allergic reaction. She took him to the doctor when hives started to cover his whole body. Tests revealed severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, sesame and shellfish.
Like many parents of children with severe food allergies, Francoeur faces a host of unique challenges.
"It's a lot of planning," she says. "You have to always plan where you're going, how you're going to eat when you get there. Will the food be safe? Will he have something to eat?"
Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:15 pm
Why would anyone put her family of four through a radical food experiment that would deprive her children of Halloween candy and chocolate-chip cookies?
A cynic who happens upon Eve Schaub's recently published book, Year Of No Sugar, might say that banning sugar from your home for a year to document the effects on your family is no more than a gimmick veiled in a health halo, and a harsh one, at that. "This experiment was pretty much guaranteed to wreak all kinds of unpredictable havoc with our lives," Schaub admits early on in the memoir. "I loved it."
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is terrifying because there's no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there's no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.
Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got a fond farewell today from President Obama. She's resigning after a rocky tenure marred by the botched rollout of the government's health insurance exchange last fall. The president's tapping his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to replace Sebelius. NPR's Scott Horsley has more.
Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:38 pm
At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.