When Dr. Robert Zarr wanted a young patient to get more exercise, he gave her an unusual prescription: Get off the bus to school earlier.
"She has to take a bus to the train, then a train to another bus, then that bus to her school," says Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care, a clinic that serves low-income and uninsured families in Washington, D.C. So the prescription read: "Walk the remaining four blocks on the second bus on your route to school from home, every day."
Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 12:09 pm
Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.
Stress is bad for your health. And bad health causes a lot of stress.
Poor health and disability are common among people who say they suffer from a lot of stress, according to a national poll by NPR, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
And it's not just those whose own health is poor. Serious illness and injury often impose enormous stress on entire families.
The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.
This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.
"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."
More than half of 16-year-olds in the United States have tried alcohol. While many of them learn to drink responsibly, some go on to binge on alcohol, putting themselves at risk for trouble as adults. Researchers still aren't sure why that is.
But it may be possible to predict with about 70 percent accuracy which teens will become binge drinkers, based on their genetics, brain function, personality traits and history, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature.
Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 11:21 am
A prestigious scientific journal Wednesday took the unusual step of retracting some high-profile research that had generated international excitement about stem cell research.
The British scientific journal Nature retracted two papers published in January by scientists at the Riken research institute in Japan and at Harvard Medical School that claimed that they could create stem cells simply by dipping skin and blood cells into acid.
Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 11:58 am
In just 12 years, the oldest members of the huge baby-boom generation will turn 80. Many will need some kind of long-term care. A new study from AARP says that care could vary dramatically in cost and quality depending on where they live.
Government warnings that antidepressants may be risky for adolescents, and the ensuing media coverage, appear to have caused an increase in suicide attempts among young people, researchers reported Wednesday.
A study involving the health records of more than 7 million people between 2000 and 2010 found a sharp drop in antidepressant use among adolescents and young people and a significant increase in suicide attempts after the Food and Drug Administration issued its warnings.
When an Ebola outbreak lasts for months and continues to show up in new cities, health officials take notice.
That's exactly what's happening in West Africa. An outbreak that started in Guinea last February has surged in the past few weeks. It's now the deadliest outbreak since the virus was first detected in 1976.
What if you could swallow a computer the size of a poppy seed, and it could report back exactly if and when you took a medicine while recording how your body responded to the drug?
It sounds crazy, but the tiny computers exist. It sounds dangerous, but they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And the company that makes them, Proteus, has tens of millions of dollars and relationships with some of the biggest drug companies in the world, including Novartis.
There has been a major effort in the past several years to reduce the rate of early elective deliveries. Those are births that for no medical reason are hastened by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section before the pregnancy has reached 39 weeks of gestation.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now have laws allowing for some form of medical marijuana.
Florida appears poised to join the club. Polls show that voters there are likely to approve a November ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medical use.
If it passes, regulations that would set up a market for medical marijuana in Florida are still at least a year away. But cannabis entrepreneurs from around the country are already setting up shop in the state.
Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a study conducted by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.