NPR Health

One of the largest supermarket companies in the U.S. has announced it is phasing out single-use plastic bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

The Kroger Co. says it plans to stop distributing single-use bags completely by 2025 across its chains.

New York University's School of Medicine is learning that no good deed goes unpunished.

The highly ranked medical school announced with much fanfare this month that it is raising $600 million from private donors to eliminate tuition for all its students — even providing refunds to those currently enrolled. Before the announcement, annual tuition at the school was $55,018.

In the Altai mountains of southern Siberia, there's a cave that was inhabited for millennia. It's called Denisova, and it shelters something remarkable: the bones of different types of ancient human relatives.

Sherri and Thomas Croom have been foster parents to 27 children — from newborns to teenagers — during the past decade.

That has meant visits to dozens of doctors and dentists for issues ranging from a tonsillectomy to depression.

Four years after going out on a limb to get Medicaid expansion enacted in Ohio, outgoing Republican Gov. John Kasich is worried about the future of the program. So he is now defending it — through a study and through the stories of people who have benefited from the coverage expansion.

There's no shortage of statistics about the depth of America's opioid epidemic — there were 72,000 overdose deaths just last year — but numbers don't tell the whole story. Beth Macy takes a ground-level look at the crisis in Dopesick, a new book focusing on central Appalachia. Macy has spent three decades reporting on the region, focusing on social and economic trends and how they affect ordinary people — she says this area is the birthplace of the modern opioid epidemic.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in April for more Americans to be prepared to administer naloxone, an opioid antidote, in case they or people close to them suffer an overdose.

"The call to action is to recognize if you're at risk," Adams told NPR's Rachel Martin. "And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone."

Federal health advisers say women can now consider three options when it's time for their cervical cancer screening tests. The influential group, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, has expanded its recommendations for this potentially lifesaving exam.

The new recommendations are published in the latest issue of JAMA.

The Food and Drug Administration took a big-tent approach earlier this month when it approved two new forms of birth control that seek to prevent pregnancy in very different ways.

Americans In Combat

Aug 20, 2018

Journalist C.J. Chivers doesn’t sugarcoat the American war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When it comes to cancer survival, the United States is sharply divided by race. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cancer death rate for African-Americans is 25 percent higher than whites, and Hispanics and Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a late, and more dangerous, stage of the disease.

As a nation, we could do a better job at taking time off.

About half of full-time workers recently surveyed by the U.S. Travel Association didn't take all the paid vacation days they earned last year.

More than 700 million vacation days went unused, and we forfeited about 200 million of those days — when vacation benefits didn't roll over. On average, American workers took almost six fewer vacation days than we earned.

Michael Doody remembers some things about his Columbus, Ohio neighborhood in the 1990s:

"Gunshots, helicopters, thefts, smashed out windows, burglaries, robberies, assaults and murders."

In addition to the crime, roughly 50 percent of the children were living in poverty in this area, known as Southern Orchards.

During the mid-20th century, construction of an interstate through the middle of the community separated many of the neighborhood's majority black residents from job opportunities in downtown Columbus.

Congo Faces Another Ebola Outbreak

Aug 19, 2018

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

What's it like to live in Honduras today — and why do so many people want to leave?

Those are the questions that photojournalist Tomas Ayuso, who grew up in the Central American country, explores in a project he calls "The Right To Grow Old."

Your doctor probably nags you to schedule cancer screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies. These tests, after all, can be life-saving, and most doctors want to make sure you get them done.

But when it comes to explaining the ways that certain screenings can cause you harm, your doctor may not be doing such a good job.

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JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

Note to readers: As you would expect in a story about a sex advice columnist, this post contains some frank language about sex.

Growing up in India, I had no sex ed in school. Sex was a taboo. Indian parents largely avoid the whole birds-and-bees talk.

I'd never heard words like condom, intercourse, ejaculation or penetration spoken aloud.

A Medicaid committee in Texas is requiring those who comment at its meetings to disclose more details about their ties to pharmaceutical companies after a Center for Public Integrity and NPR investigation into the drug industry's influence on such boards.

The state is one of the latest to respond to the findings of the Medicaid, Under the Influence project. Officials in Arizona, Colorado and New York have already taken action.

The World Health Organization said Friday that security concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu region were preventing aid workers from reaching certain areas — and leaving open the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading.

At least 1,500 people could be exposed to the virus, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva, according to Reuters.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

When Medicare in 2011 agreed to pay for a procedure to replace leaky heart valves by snaking a replacement through blood vessels, the goal was to offer relief to the tens of thousands of patients too frail to endure open-heart surgery, the gold standard.

To help ensure good results, federal officials limited Medicare payment only to hospitals that serve large numbers of cardiac patients.

In a move it said was to address the large cost of entering a career in medicine, New York University's School of Medicine said Thursday that it will offer full scholarships to all current and future students in its doctor of medicine program.

NYU said it was the "only top 10-ranked" medical school in the U.S. to offer such a generous package.

Health officials have determined that a type of bacteria found in food left at unsafe temperatures is the cause of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that struck 647 people who ate last month at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Ohio.

Between July 26 and July 30, customers of a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, Ohio, just north of Columbus, complained of food poisoning and diarrhea after eating tacos and burrito bowls there.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more on K2 and to get a better sense of exactly what this substance is, we turn to Dr. Kathryn Hawk. She's assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven. She joins us now. Welcome to the program.

Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.

Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.)

Editor's note: Story updated with additional information about generic pricing on August 17.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first identical alternative to the EpiPen, which is widely used to save children and adults suffering from dangerous allergic reactions.

The FDA Thursday authorized Teva Pharmaceuticals USA to sell generic versions of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr for adults and children who weigh more than 33 pounds.

Aaron Reid is lying in a hospital bed at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center when doctors arrive to make sure he's ready for his experimental treatment.

"How's your night? Any issues?" asks Dr. Katherine Barnett, a pediatric oncologist, as they begin to examine Reid.

Reid, 20, of Lucedale, Miss., has been fighting leukemia since he was 9 years old. He has been through chemotherapy and radiation twice, a bone marrow transplant and two other treatments.

Updated at 8:51 a.m. ET

More than 70 people overdosed in or around a historic Connecticut park near the Yale University campus on Wednesday after receiving what authorities believe was synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. Although there have been no deaths, at least two people suffered life-threatening symptoms, according to authorities.

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