Health

Health
4:59 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Why Is Nearsightedness Skyrocketing Among Chinese Youth?

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:24 pm

If you walk the streets of China today, you'll quickly notice that most young people wear glasses. In Shanghai, for instance, 86 percent of high school students suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the government's Xinhua News Agency.

Myopia has risen quickly in much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. And researchers are still trying to pin down exactly what's driving the epidemic.

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Health
3:10 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Most People Getting Measles Are Adults. Time For A Shot?

Jackie Carnegie immunizes Mabel Haywood in a Colorado Health Department immunization van in 1972. Shots for measles and other infectious diseases were offered.
Ira Gay Sealy Denver Post Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:27 pm

Most of the 92 cases of measles confirmed in California are among adults — more than 62 percent. Maybe they or their parents chose not to vaccinate, or maybe those people are allergic to one of the ingredients in the measles vaccine.

But it's also possible that a few of those adults happened to slip through the cracks when the measles vaccine first came to the public.

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Health
11:09 am
Wed February 4, 2015

New Clues To Mysterious Kidney Disease Afflicting Sugar Cane Workers

A new study finds that strenuous labor in the sugar cane fields of Central America is contributing to a mysterious form of kidney failure. Above: Workers harvest sugar cane in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:48 am

Something is destroying the kidneys of farm workers along the Pacific coast of Central America. Over the past two decades, more than 20,000 people in western Nicaragua and El Salvador — mostly men and many of them in their 20s and 30s — have died of a mysterious form of kidney failure. Researchers have been able to say definitively that it's not diabetes or other common causes of kidney failure.

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Health
1:51 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Fingertips To Hair Follicles: Why 'Touch' Triggers Pleasure And Pain

David Linden is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and is a former chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He also wrote The Compass of Pleasure.
Jacob Linden Courtesy of Viking

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 4:39 pm

The rate at which someone strokes your hair can cause feelings of pleasure or annoyance — too slow is repulsive, too fast is annoying, and just right soothes.

There's a scientific explanation for this: People have special nerve endings (wrapped around the base of hair follicles) that detect the deflection of the hairs.

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Health
11:42 am
Mon February 2, 2015

As America Grays, A Call For Dignity In Aging And Elder Care

The baby boomers are getting older: This year, 4 million people in America will turn 65.

In her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, author Ai-jen Poo says that means the country is on the cusp of a major shift.

"The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 people per day," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "What that means is that by 2050, 27 million Americans will need some form of long-term care or assistance, and that's the basis for this book."

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Health
9:13 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Rise In Measles Cases Marks A 'Wake-Up Call' For U.S.

Aly Hurt/NPR

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 1:26 pm

After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.

An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Health
2:42 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains

Dr. Frances Jensen is a professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
Courtesy of Harper Collins

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 1:26 pm

Teens can't control impulses and make rapid, smart decisions like adults can — but why?

Research into how the human brain develops helps explain. In a teenager, the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls decision-making, is built but not fully insulated — so signals move slowly.

"Teenagers are not as readily able to access their frontal lobe to say, 'Oh, I better not do this,' " Dr. Frances Jensen tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Health
5:04 am
Mon January 26, 2015

High Schools Seek A Safer Path Back From Concussion

High school athlete Graham Hill, number 50, suffered a concussion in 2013 while playing football at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas.
Courtesy of Jeffrey McWhorter

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 10:53 am

Nearly half of all reported sports concussions occur during a high school football game or practice. And even when injured bodies are ready to get back on the field, injured brains might not be ready to return to class.

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Health
3:03 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Scientists Give Genetically Modified Organisms A Safety Switch

Scientists reprogrammed the common bacterium E. coli so it requires a synthetic amino acid to live.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:37 pm

Researchers at Harvard and Yale have used some extreme gene-manipulation tools to engineer safety features into designer organisms.

This work goes far beyond traditional genetic engineering, which involves moving a gene from one organism to another. In this case, they're actually rewriting the language of genetics.

The goal is to make modified organisms safer to use, and also to protect them against viruses that can wreak havoc on pharmaceutical production.

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Health
2:59 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Tax Preparers Get Ready To Be Bearers Of Bad News About Health Law

Lou Graham prepares taxes in Connecticut and is ready to answer client questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:17 pm

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

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Health
2:06 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

From Detox To Elimination Diets, Skipping Sugar May Be The Best Bet

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:32 pm

When it comes to detox diets, we totally get the appeal.

Who's not drawn to the idea of flushing all the toxins out of our bodies — a sort of spring cleaning of our insides?

And yes, several years back, I even remember trying — if only for a day — the trendy cayenne-pepper liquid cleanse (as seen in this Mindy Kaling clip from The Office) as part of a cleansing/detox diet.

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Health
1:22 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Why I Left The ER To Run Baltimore's Health Department

Dr. Leana Wen became Baltimore's health commissioner on Thursday.
Mark Dennis City of Baltimore

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 8:56 am

When I was just beginning my third year as a medical student, I learned an important lesson about what matters most in health.

It was a typical summer afternoon in St. Louis, with the temperature and humidity both approaching 100. My patient was a woman in her 40s who was being admitted to the hospital because her lungs were filling with fluid, a complication of kidney failure. She had missed all three dialysis appointments that week.

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Health
1:15 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Trying To Lose Weight? Your Environment, Mindset May Need Work First

Sure, these Buffalo-chicken-and-kale-stuffed mushrooms look tasty, but they aren't the giant bowl of salt and corn syrup your brain really, really wants.
Matthew Mead AP

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 7:51 am

This January, either you or someone you know is probably trying to lose some weight. Either you or that person probably will fail. In fact, only 77 percent of people maintain their resolutions for a single week, and only 19 percent last two years (some claim the success rate might be as low as 8 percent).

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Health
9:15 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Health Insurance Prices: Highest In Alaska, Lowest In Sun Belt

Alaska: home to Denali National Park and Preserve, grizzly bears and some very pricey health insurance.
Universal Images Group UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 8:56 am

In health insurance prices, as in the weather, Alaska and the Sun Belt are extremes. This year Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, while Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., are among the very cheapest.

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Health
11:26 am
Wed January 14, 2015

New Apps Give Teens Easier, Persistent Access To Mental Help

Sgt. Mark Miranda, a public affairs specialist at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, demonstrates the use of a program in July 2011 that was designed to help calm symptoms of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. A new class of apps is offering more sophisticated mental health help to struggling teens, including emergency, 24/7 connection to counselors.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 6:35 am

Twelve years into a struggle with bulimia and anorexia, Jessie Joachim says she still feels guilty whenever she tells her therapist out loud that she has purged a meal.

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Health
3:22 am
Mon January 12, 2015

The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing And Briefly Saved Lives

Semmelweis considered scientific inquiry part of his mission as a physician.
De Agostini Picture Library Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 2:55 pm

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

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Health
3:38 am
Wed January 7, 2015

A Bed Of Mouse Cells Helps Human Cells Thrive In The Lab

Dr. Richard Schlegel and postdoctoral fellow Nancy Palechor-Ceron use a microscope to look at human epithelial cells growing on mouse fibroblasts at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Lauren Wolkoff/Georgetown University

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:35 pm

A drug that is used worldwide to treat malaria is now being tested as a treatment for cervical cancer. This surprising idea is the result of a new laboratory technique that could have far-reaching uses.

Our story starts with Dr. Richard Schlegel at Georgetown University Medical Center. He's best known for inventing the Gardasil vaccine to protect women from cervical cancer.

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Health
3:10 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Tight Control Of Type 1 Diabetes Saves Lives, But It's Tough

Even with the best available technology, keeping blood sugar under control requires constant vigilance.
Mark Hatfield iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 8:06 am

Here's more evidence that for people with Type 1 diabetes, strict blood sugar control matters – in this case, it actually reduces the risk of early death. But another study reveals the grim reality: Those with the condition still die about a decade sooner than those without.

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Health
3:02 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Many Insurers Don't Cover Drugs For Weight Loss

Belviq, a weight-loss drug from Arena Pharmaceuticals, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. With the agency's approval of Saxenda in December, there are four new weight-loss pills available.
Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc/Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 8:07 am

In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new obesity drug, Saxenda, the fourth prescription medicine the agency has given the green light to fight obesity since 2012. But even though two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, there's a good chance their insurer won't cover Saxenda or other anti-obesity drugs.

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Health
11:53 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Sleeping Near A Smartphone Can Disturb A Child's Rest

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 4:17 pm

The last thing my 11-year-old does before she goes to sleep is put her iPod on the nightstand. And that could mean less sleep for her, researchers say.

There's plenty of evidence that children who have televisions in their rooms get less sleep. This is one of the first studies to look at whether having a small screen like an iPod or smartphone in the room also affects rest.

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