Health

Health
6:13 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Health Spending Increases Remain At Record Lows

Orcea David iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 6:57 pm

For the third straight year, spending on health care in 2011 grew at a historically slow rate, government researchers report.

According to a study published in the January issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, U.S. health spending rose 3.9 percent in 2011. That's statistically almost identical to the rate of increase in each of the two previous years.

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Health
5:38 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Didn't Your Doctor Prescribe A Generic? Look In The Mirror.

Generic or brand?
iStockphoto.com

We're living in the golden age of generic drugs.

Eight in 10 prescriptions are filled with generics rather than brand-name drugs these days.

The generics are usually inexpensive. Think $4 for a month's supply of the depression drug fluoxetine (or Prozac) at Wal-Mart. If you have insurance that covers pharmaceuticals, your copay will be lower with a generic than a brand-name drug, too.

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Health
12:06 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Pregnancies Way Past Due Date Are On The Decline

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 8:03 am

Ask any obstetrician, babies want to come out only when they're good and ready.

At least 39 weeks after conception is the goal. But some babies bust out early, and others take longer — sometimes much longer.

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Health
11:26 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Skinny Isn't All That: Survey Finds Fewer American Women Are Dieting

Fewer women are dieting — and fewer people agree that thinner necessarily equals more attractive, according to NPD's latest survey of national eating trends.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 8:41 am

Our perceptions about dieting and our attitudes about overweight people are shifting, according to a new survey by the NPD Group.

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Health
3:39 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Triage System Helps Colleges Treat Mentally Ill Students

Meredith Was, a senior at the University of Virginia, heads a chapter of the mental health advocacy group Active Minds.
Jenny Gold for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:34 pm

Miranda Dale had her first breakdown during her freshman year at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It was 2 a.m. on a Saturday, and she hadn't left her dorm room in days.

"I honestly didn't know what to do," says Dale. "I heard rumors that at a big university you're just a number and you're not going to get through to anyone" at the university counseling center.

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Health
3:37 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Exercise May Do A Teenage Mind Good

Members of the boys basketball team from Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, celebrate their 2012 state championship victory. Psychological research shows that sports camaraderie improves teenagers' mental health.
Charles Pulliam AP

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 8:02 am

It's well known that routine physical activity benefits both body and mind. And there are no age limits. Both children and adults can reap big benefits.

Now a study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores whether certain factors may help to explain the value of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Bargain Over Fiscal Cliff Brings Changes To Health Care

A compromise bill that passed the Congress at the last minute included provisions that will reverberate through the nation's health care system.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 8:46 am

The bill that prevented the nation from plunging over the fiscal cliff did more than just stop income tax increases and delay across-the-board spending cuts. It also included several provisions that tweaked Medicare and brought bigger changes to other health care programs.

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Health
4:39 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Utah And 6 Other States Get Feds' OK To Run Insurance Exchanges

Utah got the go-ahead to run its own insurance exchange, but the federal blessing may not last.
iStockphoto.com

In a surprise, the Obama administration said Thursday that it has given Utah a conditional OK to run its own health insurance marketplace.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, has resisted making major changes to the state's existing marketplace, which was built before passage of the federal health law and is geared to small business.

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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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