Health

Health
3:49 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

For Many Kids, Winter Break Means Hungry Holidays

Tamara Burney's kindergartners eat lunch in the Hillview Elementary cafeteria in Jefferson County, Ala.
Dan Carsen WBHM

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 6:10 pm

Holidays are typically a festive time, with breaks from the routine, meals with loved ones, maybe even some gifts. But for many families across the U.S., the season comes with intense stress: Roughly 1 in 5 families with children are not getting enough food.

For some, free or reduced-price school meals have become a major source of basic nutrition. When schools close for the holidays, many of those families struggle to fill the gap.

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Health
3:00 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Pap Tests For Cervical Cancer Often Are Wasted

Cells gathered during a Pap test. Those on the left are normal, and those on the right are infected with human papillomavirus.
Ed Uthman Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 11:10 am

When it comes to testing women for cervical cancer, the nation sure could be doing a better job.

Too many women who don't need them are getting regular Pap tests. Other women who could benefit from the tests aren't getting them, often those are women without health insurance.

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Health
11:25 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Fire Risk Leads Praxair To Recall Grab 'n Go Oxygen Tanks

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 2:05 pm

When there's a cylinder of medical oxygen in the room, the last thing you want it to do is burst into flames.

So the Food and Drug Administration says Praxair has recalled its Grab 'n Go Vantage portable oxygen units. The product combines an aluminum cylinder with a regulator that releases the oxygen at the right pressure for medical use.

It's a handy combination, but only when the Grab 'n Go is working right.

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Health
3:04 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Drug Fulfills Promise Of Research Into Cystic Fibrosis Gene

Kalydeco is one of the first drugs that is effective at combating the root causes of a genetic disease.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 7:53 pm

The promise of genetic medicine is beginning to be fulfilled, but it's been a long, hard slog.

Take the story of Kalydeco. It's designed to treat people with a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. While not quite a cure, the drug is extremely effective for some CF patients.

But the success of Kalydeco has been more than two decades in the making.

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Health
4:35 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Research: A Little Extra Fat May Help You Live Longer

An analysis of many studies finds a small spare tire may be associated with longer life. But skeptics say that conclusion is rubbish.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 9:09 am

Being a little overweight may tip the odds in favor of living a long life, according to a new analysis. Researchers say there may be some benefit to having a little extra body fat.

This isn't the first time researchers have raised questions about the link between body weight and how long someone will live. While there's no debate that being severely obese will raise the risk of all kinds of illnesses and even cut some lives short, it's less clear what happens to people who are less overweight.

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Health
3:49 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Pete Stark, Health Policy Warrior, Leaves A Long Legacy

Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, was defeated in November. Stark leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:25 am

The 113th Congress will be the first one in 40 years to convene without California Rep. Pete Stark as a member.

Stark was defeated in November by a fellow Democrat under new California voting rules. Stark may not be a household name, but he leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.

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Health
3:48 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Mosquito Maven Takes Bites For Malaria Research

Chiara Andolina, a malaria researcher in Thailand, feeds her mosquito colony by letting the insects bite her right arm. These mosquitoes are picky and will dine only on live human blood.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:47 am

Most of us do everything possible to avoid mosquitoes. But one Italian researcher literally sacrifices her right arm to keep the lowly insects alive.

Chiara Adolina is studying a new malaria drug, and she needs the little suckers for her experiments. So she feeds them each day with her own blood.

She extends her arm into a mosquito cage to give the insects "breakfast." Several dozen mosquitoes spread across her forearm and jam their proboscises into her skin. "Can you see how fat they become?" she says. "Look at that tummy."

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Health
3:46 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Can Skinny Models Undermine Your Dieting Goals?

Posting a picture like this on the fridge might seem like good motivation for weight loss. But scientists say it might instead inspire weight gain.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:16 am

The millions of Americans who make New Year's resolutions to lose weight often have pictures in mind.

They're pictures that have been repeatedly supplied by the health and beauty magazines at supermarket checkout lines. They feature skinny models in bikinis, or toned guys with six-pack abs, and captions about how you could look like this by summer.

Some people go so far as to tape these pictures onto their refrigerators and cupboards. When they're tempted to reach for a cookie, they reason, the sight of that toned model might dissuade them from breaking their resolutions.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Research Moratoriums And Recipes For Superbugs: Bird Flu In 2012

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., use eggs to see if the Asian strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus has entered the U.S. in this photo from 2006.
Andy Manis AP

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 5:46 am

For scientists who study a dangerous form of bird flu, 2012 is ending as it began — with uncertainty about what the future holds for their research, but a hope that some contentious issues will soon be resolved.

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Health
7:44 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Americans Support Physician-Assisted Suicide For Terminally Ill

John Kelly and Dr. Marcia Angell were advocates on opposing sides of a Massachusetts measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Jesse Costa Jesse Costa/WBUR

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 10:07 am

Voters in Massachusetts were the latest to weigh in on whether it should be legal for doctors to prescribe drugs to help terminally ill patients end their lives.

The measure was controversial, and on Election Day it fell just short.

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Health
3:25 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Another Side Effect Of Chemotherapy: 'Chemo Brain'

Dr. Jame Abraham used positron emission tomography, or PET, scans to understand differences in brain metabolism before and after chemotherapy.
Dr. Jame Abraham

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 12:00 pm

It's well-known that chemotherapy often comes with side effects like fatigue, hair loss and extreme nausea. What's less well-known is how the cancer treatment affects crucial brain functions, like speech and cognition.

For Yolanda Hunter, a 41-year-old hospice nurse, mother of three and breast cancer patient, these cognitive side effects of chemotherapy were hard to miss.

"I could think of words I wanted to say," Hunter says. "I knew what I wanted to say. ... There was a disconnect from my brain to my mouth."

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Health
4:20 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Shootings Leave Sandy Hook Survivors Rethinking The Odds

People visit a memorial outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 15.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 11:02 pm

About a month ago, Declan Procaccini's 10-year-old son woke him early in the morning in a fright.

"He came into my bedroom and said, 'Dad, I had a horrible, horrible dream!' " Procaccini says. "He was really shaken up. I said, 'Tell me about it,' and he told me he'd had a dream that a teenager came into his classroom at his school and shot all the kids in front of him."

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Health
1:25 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Stores Recall 'Nap Nanny' After Feds Say It's A No-No

Nap Nanny Generation Two
CPSC

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 5:43 pm

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is fed up with the Nap Nanny.

Three models of the infant recliners — Nap Nanny Generations One and Two, and the Chill — are being recalled voluntarily by some of the nation's biggest retailers, including Amazon.com and Buy Buy Baby. Consumers can get refunds or credit toward another purchase.

The consumer agency says the recliners "contain defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury and death to infants."

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Health
10:39 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness Can Make Kids More Popular

A hug is good for Mom, and good for her daughter.
iStockphoto.com

In the aftermath of Christmas, a parent could be forgiven for thinking that materialism has trumped human kindness.

Take heart. Children can easily become kinder and more helpful. And that behavior makes them more positive, more accepting and more popular.

At least that's how it worked for fourth- and fifth-graders in Vancouver, Canada. Researchers there have been studying empathy and altruism in schoolchildren for decades.

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Health
9:51 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Hospital Bids Bye-Bye To Big Macs, Others May Follow Suit

Visitors to one Kansas City hospital will no longer be able to buy a Big Mac on the premises.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 1:25 pm

The McDonald's at the Truman Medical Centers' main campus in Kansas City, Mo., has closed, ending an epic, two-decade stint inside the hospital and making it the fifth health facility in the past few years to give the Big Mac the boot.

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Health
5:18 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

How A Drug Shortage Hiked Relapse Risks For Lymphoma Patients

The number of new drug shortages each year in the U.S., from 2001 through Dec. 21, 2012.
University of Utah

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Katie Alonzo was stunned when doctors told her they couldn't get a drug her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, was taking to fight lymphoma.

"When a doctor says, 'This is what you need to take.' And then all of a sudden somebody tells you, 'Well, that is what you need to take but this isn't available so we're going to try this instead,' it's very scary," say Alonzo, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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Health
3:22 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Despite Uneven Results, Alzheimer's Research Suggests A Path For Treatment

Brain scans using Amyvid dye to highlight beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Clockwise from top left: a cognitively normal subject; an amyloid-positive patient with Alzheimer's disease; a patient with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to dementia during a study; and a patient with mild cognitive impairment.
Slide courtesy of the journal Neurology

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

It's been a mixed year for Alzheimer's research. Some promising drugs failed to stop or even slow the disease. But researchers also found reasons to think that treatments can work if they just start sooner.

Scientists who study Alzheimer's say they aren't discouraged by the drug failures. "I actually think it was a phenomenal year for research," says Bill Rebeck, a brain scientist at Georgetown University.

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Health
5:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Finding New Meaning In The Loss Of A Son

Ronan at 2 years old. "I know Ronan's purpose in life was to shed light on this disease," says his mother, Maya Thompson. "This is why I will continue to fight for childhood cancer for the rest of my life."
Courtesy of Maya Thompson

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 6:00 pm

This is a story about loss and meaning. It's the story of a boy who died and a mother who tottered at the precipice of despair. It's about faith — not in God, but in the ability to build from ashes.

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Health
4:09 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

UOK? 'Dystextia' Alerts Doctors To Neurological Problems

Doctors used a type of MRI test to look at the blood vessels in the brain of a woman with dystextia. The test confirmed she was suffering from a stroke on the right side of her brain
Archives of Neurology

A young, pregnant woman went for a routine doctor's visit to find out her due date. As she was leaving the office, she got a text message from her husband:

Husband: So what's the deal?

Wife: Every where thinging days nighing

Wife: Some is where!

Husband: What the hell does that mean?

Husband: You're not making any sense.

Turns out the woman was having a stroke. And her garbled texting — something doctors are now calling 'dystextia' — was an early clue to the problem.

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Health
3:21 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Chance To Pause Biological Clock With Ovarian Transplant Stirs Debate

Sherman Silber, a surgeon at the Infertility Center of St. Louis, offers women a procedure that he claims will put their biological clocks on ice.
Courtesy of Infertility Center of St. Louis

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 9:34 pm

When Sarah Gardner was 34, she started getting really worried about whether she'd ever have kids.

"I bought this kit online that said that they could tell you your ovarian reserve," Gardner, now 40, says. These kits claim they can tell women how long their ovaries will continue producing eggs and how much time they have left to get pregnant.

"Well, mine said, 'we advise really you have a baby now.' Well, sadly that letter arrived three weeks after I just split up with my long-term partner. So, yeah, it opened a massive can of worms really," she says.

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