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Health

Health

Flu pandemics don't happen very often. So many people might feel the relative fizzle of a flu pandemic three years ago somehow immunizes the globe against another one for awhile.

But don't relax, say the authors of a report published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After decades of encouragement, Americans are getting their blood pressure checked more often.

And there's a little more good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most adults with high blood pressure are being treated these days.

But, and you knew there had to be a but, more than half of all Americans with hypertension — about 36 million people, all told — still haven't got it under control.

Seventeen states offer tax incentives to people who donate a kidney, a portion of their liver or bone marrow for transplantation. But a study finds these sweeteners aren't working.

Researchers looked at what happened in the years before and after these tax incentives were passed and found no increase in organ donation rates.

We've come to accept the baby-fication of our vegetables – baby spinach, baby lettuce, and baby squash prized for their tenderness and cute size have staked out territory in the produce section of many a grocery store.

Why Does Pregnancy Last 9 Months?

Aug 28, 2012

Babies are lovely but altogether helpless creatures.

Wouldn't it be better if tiny humans were born able to walk, like horses, or generally were readier for the rigors of the world, like, say, chimps?

Among primates, human have the least developed brains at birth, at least when compared to adult human brains. If humans were born as far along on cognitive and neurological scales as rough and ready chimps are, though, human pregnancy would have to last at least twice as long. Eighteen months in the womb, anyone?

If men could become pregnant, they'd probably visit the doctor more often.

But without a compelling inducement like contraception to get them in the door, they often miss out on sexual and reproductive health services that could protect not only them but also their partners.

Diet soda, once the soft drink of choice for adults watching their calories, isn't just for grown ups anymore. Increasingly, kids are getting their fix, too.

In offices around the country, the ranks of workers are pretty thin as people grab their last moments of summer vacation.

For those of us left to toil in our cubicles, the absence of disruptions might seem like a help for productivity. So why is it still so hard to focus?

In 1991, a man named Stephen Mobley robbed a Domino's pizza in Hall County, Ga., and shot the restaurant manager dead.

Crimes like this happen all the time, but this particular case became a national story, in part because Mobley seemed so proud of his crime. After the robbery, he bragged about the killing and had the Domino's logo tattooed on his back.

But there was another reason Mobley's case became famous.

Listen up, baby boomers. The government wants every one of you to get tested for the hepatitis C virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a sweeping recommendation official amid growing concern about the estimated 2 million boomers infected with the virus, which can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer. The advice was published in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

After a tsunami disabled the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March of 2011, residents of the nearby city of Minamisoma, just 14 miles from the plant, were evacuated.

But within a few months, most returned to their homes. Still, many communities near the plant have remained skeptical and concerned about possible radiation exposure.

To find out how much radiation exposure these people have received, Japanese researchers measured levels of radioactive cesium in nearly 10,000 residents starting six months after the incident.

The Mayo Clinic's confirmation Monday that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is receiving care there for bipolar depression is a reminder that the condition, which affects around 2.3 million Americans, can be treated.

But figuring out the right treatment for each patient can be a long and difficult road, as a new memoir called Perfect Chaos: A Daughter's Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother's Struggle to Save Her shows.

The addition of Rep. Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket is certain to elevate health care as a campaign issue this fall.

When it comes to a healthy diet — especially for women, and especially after menopause — nutritionists, doctors, everybody it seems, will tell you: calcium, calcium, calcium.

Federal health officials recommend that women and men younger than 50 consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. The recommendation goes up to 1,200 milligrams after age 70 for men and after menopause for women, when a major drop in estrogen causes bone loss.

If you feel like your employer is more interested in your health lately, you're probably right.

How many calories have I consumed this week? How well did I sleep last night?

What about this thing on my leg — is it infected? What does an ECG for ventricular tachycardia look like again?

Yes, you guessed it. There is an app for that.

It's Saturday night at the Metropolitan Room, a comedy club in New York City. Host Jimmy Failla is warming up the crowd.

"Where you guys from?" he asks one group in the audience. "Boston? Home of the Red Sox. Personally, we'd prefer you rooted for the Taliban!"

There are 50 or 60 people in the audience, sipping cocktails. Failla has a system. He asks people where they're from. Most are locals. He then hits them with something they can relate to.

Whooping cough is getting a foothold once again in the U.S., and it seems to be getting stronger. More than 20,000 cases have been reported so far this year, compared with only about 8,500 last year, and Washington State has already declared a whooping cough epidemic.

Nursing Schools Brace For Faculty Shortage

Aug 3, 2012

There have been lots of goodbye parties this year at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. So far, 11 professors have retired. That's one-fourth of the faculty, and Dean Dorrie Fontaine is in no mood to celebrate.

Over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act will probably boost demand for nurses to take care of the newly insured, she says, "and I need faculty to teach the practitioners that are going to take care of these uninsured."

When the nation's chiropractors descended on Chicago for a weeklong convention in May 1956, they threw a beauty contest.

The judges crowned Lois Conway, 18, Miss Correct Posture. Second place went to Marianne Caba, 16, according to an account in the Chicago Tribune. Ruth Swenson, 26, came in third.

But this was no ordinary pageant.

Scientists reported new evidence Wednesday that supports a provocative theory about cancer.

Three separate teams of scientists said they had, for the first time, shown that so-called cancer stem cells can be found naturally in brain tumors and early forms of skin and colon cancer.

Evidence has been mounting in recent years for the existence of these cells, which would be especially insidious. They are believed to resist standard chemotherapy and radiation and fuel the growth of tumors and relapses.

You may not have heard of pectus excavatum — or "sunken chest," as it's commonly known — but there's a good chance you know someone who was born with it.

It's the most common deformity of the chest wall, affecting roughly one in 500 people — boys much more often than girls. And while sunken chest can be corrected with surgery, the procedure is invasive and very painful. Many families won't do it.

For decades, the primary goal of those who would fix the U.S. health system has been to help people without insurance get coverage. Now, it seems, all that may be changing. At least some top Republicans are trying to steer the health debate away from the problem of the uninsured.

The shift in emphasis is a subtle one, but it's noticeable.

The so-called Berlin patient is famously the only person in the world who has been cured of HIV. But he may soon have company.

Two people in Boston also seem to be free of HIV after undergoing bone marrow transplants for cancer, just as the Berlin patient did five years ago. The crucial difference is that the Boston patients have not yet stopped taking anti-HIV drugs — although that may happen in the coming months.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's HIV epidemic. South Africa already has more people infected with HIV than any other country in the world, but parts of KwaZulu-Natal have HIV rates that are more than twice the national average.

Now in addition to HIV and AIDS, the province is also dealing with a major tuberculosis epidemic.

In the northeastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, dusty dirt tracks wind through pastures and fields of sugar cane. The hillsides are dotted with small huts made of cinder blocks and field stones.

There's currently no cure for Parkinson's, a debilitating neurological disease. There's also no blood test that can detect it, meaning early intervention is almost impossible.

But soon there might be a shockingly easy way to screen for Parkinson's disease. It would be as simple as picking up the telephone and saying "ahhh."

"There's some evidence, admittedly weak, that voice disturbances may well be one of the first or early indicator of the disease," mathematician Max Little tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Part 3 in a four-part series

Maybe you've agreed to be an organ donor. There might be something on your driver's license — a red heart, a pink dot or the word "Donor" — to show it. That also means you've very likely agreed — even if you don't realize it — to donate more than just your organs.

I know that I'm an organ donor. I signed up years ago, when I renewed my driver's license. But I had no idea that I'd also signed up to donate my tissue. That is, until Laura Siminoff, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical school, explained it to me.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the first OK for a drug to prevent HIV infection.

The daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV. It's been a mainstay in the treatment of HIV/AIDS for years, and as of today is an approved option for reducing the risk of HIV infection for people at high risk.

There's no magic elixir for healthy aging, but here's one more thing to add to the list: good gut health.

A study published in the latest issue of Nature finds diet may be key to promoting diverse communities of beneficial bacteria in the guts of older people.

To evaluate this, researchers analyzed the microbiota, or gut bacteria, of 178 older folks, mostly in their 70s and 80s.

Staph Infections Tied To Misuse Of Drug Vials

Jul 12, 2012

Ten people were hospitalized and one was found dead after contracting staph infections from injections received at health clinics in Delaware and Arizona in early spring, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection clusters were described in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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