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Health

Health

On the northern Virginia farm where Helen Downs spent her childhood, Christmas meant a freshly butchered hog and an epic family meal. When she had her own children, Helen brought this spirit of abundance to their home.

In 2008, Army Reserve Capt. LeRoy Torres returned home to Robstown, Texas, after a tour in Iraq. He went back to work as a state trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol.

Torres was a longtime runner. So when a suspect took off on foot one morning, Torres sprinted after him. But something was wrong. A burning sensation in his chest hurt so bad, it almost knocked him down.

The world has made a big commitment in recent years to treat and prevent infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. But another threat to global health is on the rise: Cancer rates are going up in the developing world.

Growing up as the son of a pathologist, Thomas Laqueur says, his father would leave the dinner table to conduct autopsies. Sometimes Laqueur would watch his father prepare pathological samples that he had taken from the bodies.

"I lived in a family in which the dead were present," Laqueur explains to Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "My father regarded the dead very routinely, in a way a mortician might regard them. He was interested in them scientifically."

Taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, according to a study of Canadian mothers and children published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

But scientists not involved in the research say the results are hard to interpret and don't settle the long-running debate about whether expectant mothers with depression should take antidepressants.

There are a number of options for women when they learn they have breast cancer in its earliest stages, when the tumor is relatively small and has not yet spread.

Each option is similarly effective when it comes to killing cancer cells and preventing the disease from returning.

With sexually transmitted diseases on the rise, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago think they might have a powerful new weapon to fight their spread: Google searches.

The company behind the Web's leading search engine has quietly begun giving researchers access to its data troves to develop analytical models for tracking infectious diseases in real time or close to it. UIC is one of at least four academic institutions that have received access so far, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Google said.

Improper access to the medical information of celebrities and people in the news has been a bane of health systems around the country for years. The proliferation of electronic medical records systems has made it easier to track and punish those who peek in records for no legitimate reason.

Below is a partial list of high-profile breaches and the consequences that followed, compiled from news reports.


"PPL WORLD WIDE," the Facebook post shouted, using text-speak for the word "people." "FRANCES ... IS HPV POSITIVE!"

The public missive from January 2014 gave Frances' full name, along with the revelation that she had human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts and cancer. It also included her date of birth and ended with a plea to friends: "PLZ HELP EXPOSE THIS HOE!"

If you've found that you are sensitive to gluten — the stretchy protein that makes wheat bread fluffy and pie crusts crisp — perhaps you've had to bear the brunt of the gluten-free backlash.

The number of people newly diagnosed with diabetes continues to decline after decades of increases that transformed what was once a disease of the old into a public health crisis that affects even children.

That's not to say the crisis is over; 1.4 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2014, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's down from 1.7 million new cases in 2009, the fifth straight year of decline.

Loneliness has been linked to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's disease. Depression is common among the lonely. Cancers tear through their bodies more rapidly, and viruses hit them harder and more frequently. In the short term, it feels like the loneliness will kill you. A study suggests that's because the pain of loneliness activates the immune pattern of a primordial response commonly known as fight or flight.

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn't just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

When A Stranger Leaves You $125 Million

Nov 21, 2015

One morning last year, when Bryan Bashin sat down to check his email, a peculiarly short note caught his attention.

"A businessman has passed away. I think you might want to talk to us," it read.

Bashin directs a nonprofit in San Francisco called the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, so he gets a lot of email about donations. But this one felt different. It came from a group of lawyers handling the estate of a Seattle businessman who had died, Donald Sirkin.

Note: This post was updated on February 5. As more information comes to light about Zika virus, there will be further updates.

After testing all the pieces of a tiny pill-size device, Albert Swiston sent it on a unique journey: through the guts of six live Yorkshire pigs.

Pig bodies are a lot like human bodies, and Swiston wanted to know whether the device would be able to monitor vital signs from inside a body. It did.

Dr. William Benitz walks past the rows of clear plastic isolettes in the neonatal intensive care unit at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University.

There's little room to navigate — the space is jampacked with beeping machines and ventilators. The health team in the unit can care for as many as 70 fragile infants. One tiny, pink baby girl here today was born weighing 13 ounces.

The oral polio vaccine may go down in history as one of the most powerful public health tools of modern times. Developed by Albert Sabin in 1961, the vaccine is cheap, easy to administer and has pushed polio to the brink of extinction.

The joke is that if you can "count to two" you can vaccinate kids against polio. That's because all it takes is squeezing two drops of the vaccine into a child's mouth.

Contraceptive implants and IUDs are very effective in preventing pregnancy — nearly 100 percent, statistics show. A new federal survey finds many more women are making this choice than did a decade ago.

English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.

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