Health

Health
4:28 am
Mon July 14, 2014

To Make Children Healthier, A Doctor Prescribes A Trip To The Park

Zarr with Kellsi Aguilar and her father, Felipe, in Zarr's Washington, D.C., office.
Sam Sanders/NPR

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 1:08 pm

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."

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Health
3:36 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Why HIV Spreads Less Easily In Heterosexual Couples

HIV particles (red) invade a human immune cell. When HIV is transmitted through sex, only the strongest versions of the virus establish long-term infection.
Chris Bjornberg/ScienceSource

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:07 pm

HIV is sexist.

A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.

And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They're more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.

Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist.

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Health
3:27 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 3:34 pm

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Health
3:32 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Like All Animals, We Need Stress. Just Not Too Much

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

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.

In fact, it's essential.

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Health
3:37 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Stress Causes Health Problems, Which Then Cause More Stress

Staci Moritz and her son Aidan, 11, play at a park in their neighborhood in Portland, Ore. Caring for three children and her injured husband exacerbated her health problems.
Beth Nakamura for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 12:38 pm

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.

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Health
4:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The Secret History Behind The Science Of Stress

Camel marketed smoke breaks at work as time spent relaxing instead of stressing. Camel, 1964.
Stanford University

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 3:47 pm

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."

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Health
3:18 am
Mon July 7, 2014

For Many Americans, Stress Takes A Toll On Health And Family

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 1:14 pm

Stress is part of the human condition, unavoidable and even necessary to a degree. But too much stress can be toxic — even disabling.

And there's a lot of toxic stress out there.

A national poll done by NPR with our partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they had a great deal of stress in the previous month.

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Health
5:06 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Can We Predict Which Teens Are Likely To Binge Drink? Maybe

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 6:07 pm

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.

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Health
11:37 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Easy Method For Making Stem Cells Was Too Good To Be True

The heart beats in a mouse embryo grown with stem cells made from blood. Now the research that claimed a simple acid solution could be used to create those cells has been retracted.
Courtesy of Haruko Obokata

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.

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Health
3:49 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Targeting Overweight Workers With Wellness Programs Can Backfire

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:08 pm

Employers say obesity is a top health concern for their workers. But health is a sensitive and personal issue. Some employees say these wellness initiatives can go too far.

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Health
12:04 am
Thu June 19, 2014

How Your State Rates In Terms Of Long-Term Care

Minnesota, Washington and Oregon topped the ranking, which looked at 26 variables, including affordability and whether patients could get good paid care at home. Alabama and Kentucky came in last.
Fred Froese/iStockphoto

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.

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Health
6:34 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Warnings Against Antidepressants For Teens May Have Backfired

Antidepressant use nationally fell by 31 percent among adolescents between 2000 and 2010. Suicide attempts increased by almost 22 percent.
JustinLing/Flickr

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:24 am

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.

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Health
3:14 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Doctors Aren't Sure How To Stop Africa's Deadliest Ebola Outbreak

A health worker from Doctors Without Borders examines Ebola patient Finda Marie Kamano, 33, at her home in Conakry, Guinea, in April. The outbreak that began in February is still spreading in West Africa.
Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos/Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:24 am

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.

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Health
3:08 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Someday Soon You May Swallow A Computer With Your Pill

The company Proteus has developed a computer that attaches to a pill and tracks the pill's absorption into the body. The technology has passed clinical trials.
iStock

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:24 am

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.

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Health
10:22 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:47 pm

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

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Health
9:03 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Fewer Women Are Having Labor Induced Early

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 7:43 am

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.

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Health
4:58 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

India's Transgender Community Turns Seat Belt Safety Into Video Hit

India's transgender community, known as hijras, stars in an ad promoting seat belt use across the country.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:36 pm

Members of India's transgender community, known as hijras, are now the stars of an entertaining advocacy campaign aimed at persuading India's motorists to buckle up.

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Health
5:24 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Entrepreneurs Buzzing Over Medical Marijuana In Florida

One of three marijuana plants growing in the backyard of a 65-year-old retiree from Pompano Beach, Fla. He grows and smokes his own "happy grass" to alleviate pain.
Carline Jean MCT/Landov

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:05 am

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.

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Health
11:23 am
Wed June 11, 2014

More Young Adults Get Inpatient Psychiatric Care After Health Law

Mental health admissions of young people rose 9 percent after implementation of a key portion of the Affordable Care Act, researchers say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 8:29 am

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.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

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Health
5:05 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental Tourism

Mexico's 2010 census counted fewer than 5,500 residents in Los Algodones, but more than 350 dentists ply their trade here, serving U.S. and Canadian patients seeking affordable procedures.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 10:22 am

Sitting in a dentist's chair hardly rates as a vacation. But every year, tens of thousands of people go to a tiny border town near Yuma, Ariz., that has proclaimed itself the dental capital of Mexico.

Los Algodones is a virtual dental factory. Some 350 dentists work within a few blocks of downtown. Because of the low prices and fast service, most patients come for major work.

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