Health

Health
5:45 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Carrot Juice Instead of Coke? USDA Proposes New School Snack Rules

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed new rules for school snacks promote healthier options, like the fruits and vegetables served in this Palo Alto, Calif., cafeteria.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 10:24 am

The Department of Agriculture has proposed a new "Smart Snacks in School" rule that aims to promote more healthful options in school vending machines, snack bars and cafeterias across the country.

The USDA's updated regulations, which are open to public comment for 60 days, will set nutrition standards and calorie limits for snack foods that are sold in schools.

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Health
9:05 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Lesson Learned: A Curb On Drugmakers' Gifts To Medical Students

A package of microwave popcorn promoting Johnson & Johnson's antipsychotic drug Invega back in 2008 would have been a no-no at many medical schools.
Nurse Ratched's Place

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 7:57 am

It used to be common for drugmakers to ply medical students with meals and gifts as a way to curry favor with America's next generation of doctors.

But times are changing.

To curb the influence of drug companies, most U.S. medical schools have now instituted policies that restrict or ban gifts altogether. The policies appear to have a lasting effect.

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Health
12:43 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Should Medicare Pay For Alzheimer's Scans?

The loss of contrast between gray and white matter in this brain scan indicates a high uptake of Amyvid and the presence of amyloid plaques.
Eli Lilly & Co. and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 4:18 pm

Though increasingly common, Alzheimer's disease still isn't all that easy to diagnose, especially in its early stages.

Forgetfulness and other signs of dementia can be caused by lots of things other than Alzheimer's. Sometimes the symptoms are fleeting or normal in the context of a person's age. But at other times these symptoms mark the dark path of Alzheimer's.

Doctors' standard approach to diagnosis includes taking a medical history of the patient, assessing mental function and administering various neurological and lab tests.

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Health
5:36 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Gut Microbes May Play Deadly Role In Malnutrition

Researchers followed 300 sets of twins in Malawi for the first three years of their life. In many cases, only one twin developed severe malnutrition, while the other remained healthier.
Photograph courtesy of Tanya Yatsunenko

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 10:44 am

There's a part of our body that's only now getting mapped: the trillions of microbes, mostly bacteria, that live in our guts.

Some scientists describe this community as a previously unnoticed vital organ. It appears to play a role in how quickly we gain weight and how well we fight off disease.

A study published in the journal Science suggests that changes in this community of microbes also may cause kwashiorkor, a kind of deadly malnutrition.

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Health
3:04 am
Wed January 30, 2013

To Maximize Weight Loss, Eat Early in The Day, Not Late

Front-loading your calories may help you lose weight.
Gaelle Cohen iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 10:44 am

You've heard the dieting advice to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper? Well, there's mounting evidence that there's some truth to it.

A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity builds on previous studies that suggest it's best not to eat too many calories late in the day.

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Health
3:30 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Fighting Misconceptions About Sickle Cell Disease In The ER

Nurse Corean McClinton, left, talks about pain management with Sherry Webb at the Sickle Cell Disease Center in the Truman Medical Center, in Kansas City, Mo., in 2007.
Dick Whipple Associated Press

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 1:47 pm

When sickle cell patients arrive at emergency rooms, they often have difficulty getting proper treatment. Paula Tanabe, an associate professor at the Duke University School of Nursing, is working to change that.

Sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder most common among people of African descent, affects 100,000 Americans. It causes normally disk-shaped red blood cells to take the form of pointed crescents or sickles.

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Health
11:38 am
Thu January 24, 2013

If You Think You're Good At Multitasking, You Probably Aren't

Take it easy, fella.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 4:54 pm

Everybody complains that people shouldn't talk on cellphones while driving. And yet it seems pretty much everybody does it.

That may be because so many of us think we're multitasking ninjas, while the rest of the people nattering away while driving are idiots.

But scientists say that the better people think they are at multitasking, the worse they really are at juggling.

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Health
8:35 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Nature Has A Formula That Tells Us When It's Time To Die

Courtesy of Yunfun Tan

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 10:19 pm

Editor's Note: Robert has added a postscript to this post. Scroll down or click here to read it.


We wax, we wane. It's the dance of life.

Every living thing is a pulse. We quicken, then we fade. There is a deep beauty in this, but deeper down, inside every plant, every leaf, inside every living thing (us included) sits a secret.

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Health
3:40 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Female Smokers Face Greater Risk Than Previously Thought

Women smoke in New York City's Times Square.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 1:19 pm

There's still more to learn about the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

Studies in this week's New England Journal of Medicine show that the risk for women has been under-appreciated for decades. New data also quantify the surprising payoffs of smoking cessation — especially under the age of 40.

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Health
3:51 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

A Worm's Ovary Cells Become A Flu Vaccine Machine

The fall armyworm, a corn pest, is now also a vaccine factory.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 9:57 am

As the flu season grinds on from news cycle to news cycle, there's some flu news of a different sort. Federal regulators have approved a next-generation type of flu vaccine for the second time in two months.

The two new vaccines are the first fruits of a big government push to hasten and simplify the laborious production of flu vaccines.

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Health
6:21 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

It's Legal For Some Insurers To Discriminate Based On Genes

Slides containing DNA sit in a bay waiting to be analyzed by a genome sequencing machine.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:48 am

Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora's box. You might learn something useful or interesting, or you might learn that you're likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.

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Health
11:55 am
Thu January 17, 2013

After Years Of Silence, The Plague Can Rise Again

There's no doubt that the plague has staying power.

The deadly bacterium has probably been infecting people for 20,000 years. And, its genes have hardly changed since it killed nearly half of Europe's population during The Black Death.

Now microbiologists have evidence that strains of the plague may be able to reactivate themselves and trigger new outbreaks — even after lying dormant for decades.

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Health
3:48 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Bad Flu Season Overshadows Other Winter Miseries

People line up at a Duane Reade pharmacy in New York behind a sign announcing the recent flu outbreak.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 11:11 am

Dr. Beth Zeeman says she can spot a case of influenza from 20 paces. It's not like a common cold.

"People think they've had the flu when they've had colds," Zeeman, an emergency room specialist at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., tells Shots. "People use the word 'flu' for everything. But having influenza is really a different thing. It hits you like a ton of bricks."

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Health
4:28 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Mental Health Gun Laws Unlikely To Reduce Shootings

State Senator Jeff Klein (L-R), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins congratulate New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after he signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act on Tuesday.
Hans Pennink Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 11:11 am

States aren't likely to prevent many shootings by requiring mental health professionals to report potentially violent patients, psychiatrists and psychologists say.

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Health
5:37 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Sick Workers' Dilemma: Stay Home Or Go To Work?

Chaim Gross, 24, is known as "Patient Zero" at his company Zeno Radio. About half of the workers have fallen ill in the past couple of months.
Ailsa Chang NPR

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 8:18 am

As the earliest flu outbreak in years continues to claim victims, businesses are taking a hit, too. They're faced with an unsolvable problem: If they tell too many sick employees to stay home, the work doesn't get done. But when people sick with flu and other bugs show up, they're spreading illness through the workplace.

It's a dilemma the staff at Zeno Radio, a media technology company in Midtown Manhattan, has seen unfold this winter.

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Health
7:33 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Phooey On Flu

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.

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Health
3:46 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Black Market Pharmacies And The Big Business Of Spam

Acne medicine, in Turkish.
Dave Keck

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 8:35 am

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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Health
4:20 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer's

Scientists have found that bilingual seniors are better at skills that can fade with age than their monolingual peers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 9:07 am

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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Health
3:29 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Promoting Hinduism? Parents Demand Removal Of School Yoga Class

Third-graders at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif., perform chair pose with instructor Kristen McCloskey last month.
Kyla Calvert for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 9:46 am

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.

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Health
3:49 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Can You Get A Flu Shot And Still Get The Flu?

Shea Catlin, a nurse practitioner, doses out flu vaccine to give a shot at a CVS Minute Clinic in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 3.
Barbara L. Salisbury The Washington Times/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:06 am

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.

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