Health

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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Health
4:25 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Online Education Didn't Boost Colon Cancer Screening Much

Kristen Miller, a colonoscopy patient, sits with Dr. Stephen Hanauer at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago in 2010. They're looking at an interactive computer program describing benefits and risks of the procedure.
Brian Kersey AP

Turn 50, and you can pretty much count on an invitation to join the AARP and a referral to the gastroenterologist to be screened for colon cancer.

Two-thirds or less of people ages 50-75, the target range for colorectal cancer screening, are up-to-date on testing, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

That's better than it used to be, but still isn't up to par. The national screening goal is 70.5 percent of eligible people in 2020.

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Health
3:49 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Killer's DNA Won't Explain His Crime

A person's DNA can say a lot about a person, but not why someone has committed a horrific crime like mass murder.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

Connecticut's chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, has raised the possibility of requesting genetic tests on Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Carver hasn't said precisely what he may want geneticists to look for, but scientists who study the links between genes and violence say those tests won't reveal much about why Lanza did what he did.

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Health
3:16 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Dismissed Case Raises Questions On Shaken Baby Diagnosis

Jennie and Kristian Aspelin pose in a pumpkin patch with their children two weeks before three-month-old Johan died.
Courtesy of the Aspelin family

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 3:27 pm

When San Francisco prosecutors dismissed charges against Kristian Aspelin in early December, it became just the latest case to raise questions about how shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed. Aspelin, who was accused of causing the death of his infant son, had one thing in his favor: He had enough money to pay for medical experts who cast doubt on the prosecution's theory.

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Health
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

When The Doctor Works For The Insurance Company

This won't hurt a bit.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Some insurance companies are taking a page out of their own history books: running their own doctors' offices and clinics. Though the strategy previously had mixed results, insurers think that by providing primary care for patients, they might reduce costly diseases and hospital stays in the long run.

Dr. Michael Byrne spent eight years working for a Brooklyn hospital and he saw firsthand why the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world.

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Health
4:35 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

How The U.S. Stopped Malaria, One Cartoon At A Time

The U.S. Army distributed a monthly pinup calendar to GIs, which encouraged them to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Cartoon by Frank Mack for the U.S. Army. Courtesy of the Images from the History of Medicine.

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:28 pm

"Her business is robbery and coldblooded murder ... they call her Annie Awful ... She's a thief and a killer. She stops at nothing."

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Health
12:14 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

A Question About Aspirin And Age-Related Vision Loss

This image shows how macular degeneration affects a person's vision.
National Eye Institute, NIH

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:28 pm

About 20 percent of adults take aspirin regularly, either to ease pain or to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

But taking aspirin might increase the risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in old age, according to a study of nearly 5,000 people in Wisconsin.

Nobody wants to go blind. So does this mean it's time to give up on aspirin? Not at all, say ophthalmologists.

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Health
4:53 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Gunmen In Pakistan Target Polio Vaccinators

Rukhsana Bibi (center) mourns for her daughter, polio worker Madiha Bibi, killed by unknown gunmen, at a local hospital in Karachi on Tuesday. Gunmen staged additional attacks Wednesday.
Fareed Khan AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 am

Pakistani gunmen staged new attacks Wednesday on health workers carrying out a nationwide polio vaccination program. Six workers were killed Tuesday as they went house to house to administer the immunizations to area children in Karachi and the northwest city of Peshawar.

Although there were additional attacks, the Pakistani government vowed to continue the vaccination campaign — and eradicate the disease — even if there is bloodshed.

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Health
3:48 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Fake Malaria Drugs Fuel Rise Of Drug-Resistant Disease

In rural areas of Myanmar, villagers can buy inexpensive packets of drugs, called Ya Chut, when they have malaria. But these local remedies often don't contain adequate amounts of malaria medicines.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 am

Counterfeit drugs are a growing scourge around the world. They're generating millions of dollars in revenue for organized crime and fueling the rise of drug-resistant parasites.

Anti-malarials are among the most popular drugs to fake. But these faux pharmaceuticals are particularly dangerous because malaria can kill a person in a matter of days.

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Health
4:27 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Easing Of Marijuana Laws Complicates Parents' Advice To Kids

People at a Denver party early this month celebrate the recognition of an amendment to the Colorado constitution legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Brennan Linsley AP

Parents drill certain warnings into their children: don't drink, don't smoke and don't do drugs. But those conversations have gotten tougher now that two states, Colorado and Washington, have decriminalized some recreational marijuana use.

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Health
1:20 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Dangers of 'Whoonga': Abuse Of AIDS Drugs Stokes Resistance

A whoonga smoker near Durban, South Africa, shows a crushed AIDS pill in the palm of his hand before mixing the drug with marijuana.
John Robinson AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 4:01 pm

Opportunists who market street drugs may be undermining the global struggle against AIDS.

In South Africa, two mainstay HIV drugs have found their way into recreational use. That may help explain why some HIV patients are resistant to these front-line medicines even if they've never been in treatment before.

It can happen in two ways.

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Health
12:34 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

A View From The Ground: Thailand Confronts Drug-Resistant Malaria

Dr. Aun Pyae Phyo examines a baby at the Whampa malaria clinic on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:16 pm

Global efforts to combat malaria are under threat from new strains of drug-resistant malaria, which are cropping up in Southeast Asia.

Over the last decade, the number of malaria deaths around the world has dropped sharply, from just over 1 million in 2000 to roughly 600,000 last year.

Much of that progress is due to the widespread use of drugs containing artemisinin. The new malaria drugs quickly kill the parasite.

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Health
10:59 am
Tue December 18, 2012

In France, Free Birth Control For Girls At Age 15

An employee tidies boxes of medicines displayed in a pharmacy in the city of Caen in western France last month. Beginning in 2013, girls between the ages of 15 and 18 will be able to get birth control free of charge, and without parental notification.
Charly Triballeau AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:16 pm

Beginning next year, young women in France between the ages of 15 and 18 will have access to birth control free of charge, and without parental notification. The French government says the new measure is intended to reduce pregnancies in this age group that result from a mixture of ignorance, taboo and lack of access to contraception.

One place where information is available on birth control, abortion and sexual abuse is a family planning clinic in a gritty neighborhood in the east of Paris.

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Health
3:18 am
Tue December 18, 2012

NIH Revisits Debate On Controversial Bird Flu Research

A prefectural officer carries a chicken on a poultry farm on Oct. 15 on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal, where chickens suspected of being infected with bird flu were found.
Prakash Mathema AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 8:14 am

On Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health in Maryland is holding a second day of talks about whether and how to continue funding some controversial scientific experiments.

Back in January, virologists agreed to temporarily stop research that was creating new forms of bird flu because critics argued that the work was too dangerous. NIH officials are now seeking input from scientists and the public about how to proceed.

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Health
3:36 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Experts Argue Against Proposed Ban On Vaccine Preservative

A boy in Lima, Peru, receives a hepatitis B vaccine during an immunization drive in 2008. The United Nations is considering a ban on the preservative thimerosal, which is often used in hepatitis B and other vaccines in developing countries.
Martin Mejia AP

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 8:55 am

An old complaint about the safety of childhood vaccines is finding new life at the United Nations.

The U.N. Environment Program is considering a ban on thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that is widely used in developing countries. The program expects to make a decision sometime after a final meeting on the issue in January.

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