Health

Health
6:08 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Diabetes Raises Women's Risk Of Heart Disease More Than For Men

About 8 percent of Americans have diabetes.
iStockphoto

Diabetes increases a woman's risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke much more than it does for men, and scientists are trying to figure out why.

Women with diabetes were almost three times more likely to develop heart disease than women without the disease, a relative risk that's 44 percent higher than it is for men. That's despite the fact that men are more likely to have heart disease than women overall.

Since heart disease already is the number one killer of women, and the number of people with diabetes has been rising rapidly, this is not good news.

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Health
5:09 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Anxiety And MRIs May Be Driving The Rise In Double Mastectomies

More women are choosing double mastectomy even if they don't have a high cancer risk.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 10:21 am

The number of women getting double mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis has been rising in the past 10 years, even though most of them don't face a higher risk of getting cancer in the other breast.

That has cancer doctors troubled, because for those women having the other breast removed doesn't reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or increase their odds of survival. And they don't know why women are making this choice.

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Health
8:50 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Beezin' May Be Bogus, But Other Dopey Teen Fads Can Bite Back

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 2:00 pm

Another month, another apocalyptic news report of some weird substance that kids are abusing in pursuit of a high.

The most recent example is "beezin'," which supposedly involves smearing Burt's Bee's lip balm on one's eyelids. The tingling allegedly heightens the sensation of being drunk or high, according to the Oklahoma Fox News affiliate that first declared this a "viral trend."

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Health
8:37 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Just One-Third Of People Can Tell If You're Faking That Laugh

Does she really think you're funny, or is she just being polite?
Jon Feingersh/Getty Getty Images/Blend Images RM

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 11:42 am

  • Researcher Greg Bryant Speaks To NPR's Robert Siegel

Scene: The happy-hour office party.

Your boss is relaxed, drink in hand. A little liquid courage of your own, and you approach her, taking a shot at an opportunity to impress. You open with a quip. She chuckles.

But does she really mean it? Or is she faking?

Only one-third of people can tell the difference between a fake laugh and the real deal, according to a study by Greg Bryant, a professor of communication at University of California, Los Angeles.

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Health
7:19 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Don't Salmon, Don't Shoal: Learning The Lingo Of Safe Cycling

What's that salmon doing in the bike lane?
Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 9:48 am

Alec Baldwin, you were salmoning!

The actor was ticketed in New York on Tuesday for riding his bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street.

Cyclists use the term "salmoning" to describe a biker going against the stream on a one-way bike lane. Surely the definition can be broadened to include Baldwin's infraction.

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Health
10:39 am
Fri May 9, 2014

If Polar Bears Can Eat A Ton Of Fat And Be Healthy, Why Can't We?

Lots of swimming in icy seas may have helped bears evolve to eat a high-fat diet yet remain healthy.
Sebastien Bozon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 6:20 pm

If you were a bear and wanted to make a go of it in the frozen North (think polar bear, of course), what would you need to survive?

White fur would help, to help you sneak up on prey. Also plenty of body fat to stay warm. And you'd need great stamina to swim many miles from one ice floe to the next.

And there's another important trait, researchers reported Thursday: Polar bears have genes that help them live on a diet that's overloaded with fat — without suffering the sorts of human diseases that typically come with a diet of that sort.

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Health
3:04 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Less Nutritious Grains May Be In Our Future

Wheat fields like this one could yield wheat with less zinc and iron in the future if they are exposed to higher levels of CO2, according to the journal Nature.
Zaharov Evgeniy iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:26 am

In the future, Earth's atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are reporting that some of the world's most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.

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Health
5:35 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Doctors Think The Other Guy Often Prescribes Unnecessary Care

She ordered the test, not me.
iStockphoto

Three out of four physicians believe that fellow doctors prescribe an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week, a survey released Thursday finds.

The most frequent reasons that physicians order extraneous — and costly --medical care are fears of being sued, impulses to be extra careful and desires to reassure themselves about their assessments of patients, the survey said.

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Health
4:54 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

'Provocative' Research Turns Skin Cells Into Sperm

New research could be promising for infertile men. Scientists were able to make immature sperm cells from skin cells. Their next challenge is to make that sperm viable.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 8:46 am

Scientists reported Thursday they had figured out a way to make primitive human sperm out of skin cells, an advance that could someday help infertile men have children.

"I probably get 200 emails a year from people who are infertile, and very often the heading on the emails is: Can you help me?" says Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University, who led the research when she was at Stanford University.

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Health
1:34 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

A Brief Tour Of The Alimentary Canal, From Spit To You Know What

There's a lot more going on in our guts than just digestion.
Andreas Lindlahr iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:41 am

Not so long ago, the workings of the digestive system were of interest only to gastroenterologists and 10-year-old boys. But the gut is now chic, with its microbiome playing a huge role in human health, and passing gas deemed a sign of healthy gut microbes.

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Health
3:29 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Powerful Narcotic Painkiller Up For FDA Approval

Morphine and oxycodone (the active ingredient in Oxycontin) are strong narcotic pain relievers on their own. Moxduo, a drug now up for FDA approval, would combine morphine and oxycodone in a single capsule.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 12:34 pm

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to decide whether to approve a powerful new prescription painkiller that's designed to relieve severe pain quickly, and with fewer side effects than other opioids.

While some pain experts say the medicine could provide a valuable alternative for some patients in intense pain, the drug (called Moxduo) is also prompting concern that it could exacerbate the epidemic of abuse of prescription painkillers and overdoses.

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Health
3:40 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Scribes Are Back, Helping Doctors Tackle Electronic Medical Records

Medical scribe Connie Gayton keeps the electronic records, allowing orthopedic surgeon Devesh Ramnath to focus on his patients.
Brandon Thibodeaux for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 9:43 am

Like many other doctors across the country, Dr. Devesh Ramnath, a Dallas orthopedic surgeon, recently made the switch from paper to electronic medical records. This meant he no longer had to just take notes when he was examining a patient — he also had to put those notes into the computer as a permanent record.

"I was really focused on just trying to get the information in, and not really focusing on the patient anymore," Ramnath says.

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Health
3:25 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Voodoo Dolls Prove It: Hunger Makes Couples Turn On Each Other

Volunteers with lower levels of blood sugar stuck more pins in voodoo dolls of their spouses than people with higher levels.
Courtesy of Brad Bushman

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:03 pm

A lot of us know what can happen when we get hungry. We get grumpy, irritable and sometimes nasty.

There's even a name for this phenomenon: "Hangry, which is a combination of the words hungry and angry," says psychologist Brad Bushman from Ohio State University.

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Health
3:22 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach

Bianca Giaever for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 2:58 pm

It was late, almost 9 at night, when Justin Holden pulled the icy pizza box from the refrigerator at the Brookville Supermarket in Washington, D.C.

He stood in front of the open door, scanning the nutrition facts label.

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Health
4:18 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Doctors Use 3-D Printing To Help A Baby Breathe

Garrett shares a moment with his mother, Natalie Peterson. "He has been doing so good," she says. "He's been smiling."
Nicole Haley/University of Michigan Health System

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:59 am

Ever since the day Garrett Peterson was born, his parents have had to watch him suddenly just stop breathing.

"He could go from being totally fine to turning blue sometimes — not even kidding — in 30 seconds," says Garrett's mother, Natalie Peterson, 25, of Layton, Utah. "It was so fast. It was really scary."

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Health
3:41 am
Wed March 12, 2014

You Might Pay A Lot More Than $95 For Skipping Health Insurance

The tax penalty is designed to encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 4:08 pm

2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But most people who are aware of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.

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Health
2:57 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Of Cigs And Selfies: Teens Imitate Risky Behavior Shared Online

High school students whose friends posted photos of drinking and smoking were about 20 percent more likely to become drinkers or smokers themselves.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:59 am

Teenagers put a lot of stock in what their peers are doing, and parents are forever trying to push back against that influence. But with the advent of social media, hanging out with the wrong crowd can include not just classmates, but teenagers thousands of miles away on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

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Health
10:39 am
Wed February 26, 2014

For Those Unable To Talk, A Machine That Speaks Their Voice

Carl Moore, a former helicopter mechanic, was diagnosed with ALS 20 years ago. He has had unusual longevity for someone with ALS but expects someday to rely on his wheelchair and speech-generating device.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 8:26 am

It's hard to imagine a more devastating diagnosis than ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease. For most people, it means their nervous system is going to deteriorate until their body is completely immobile. That also means they'll lose their ability to speak.

So Carl Moore of Kent, Wash., worked with a speech pathologist to record his own voice to use later — when he can no longer talk on his own.

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Health
12:21 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Can A Doctor Really Demand An Extra $75 Upfront?

Insurers prohibit doctors from charging more than a copayment or other amount specified in your plan.
Douglas W Allen iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 4:25 pm

This week, I answer readers' questions about what doctors can ask for in advance and the nuances of switching insurance plans, both on and off the health exchanges.

Q. After signing up for a gold level plan on the health insurance marketplace, my physician, who is part of my plan, asked for $75 up front. My copayment is $25. His office also wants to keep a credit card on file. Is this legal?

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Health
11:25 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Scant Evidence To Support Vitamins Against Cancer, Heart Disease

Vitamin E for your heart? Don't bother, new guidelines say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 8:27 am

If you're taking vitamins to guard against cancer or a heart attack, you've got plenty of company.

Nearly half of American adults take a vitamin of some kind each a day. About a third take a multivitamin.

But are they worth it?

For people in good health and without any special nutritional deficiencies, there isn't enough evidence to say it's a good idea — at least when it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

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