Health

The Salt
3:44 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Key Chain Blood-Alcohol Testing May Make Quantified Drinking Easy

The BACTrack Vio keychain breathalyzer and app on the iPhone at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. A public health researcher says tools like this could help people make better decisions about alcohol use.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:36 pm

While testing whether a dash of yeast could keep you from getting drunk, we discovered that it's pretty entertaining — and revealing — to track your blood alcohol while drinking.

Using a device to test blood-alcohol levels, we watched the alcohol in our bodies soar as we drank two beers on empty stomachs. And we noticed there's a place on the curve — about 0.04 or 0.05 BAC — when the buzz is the sweetest.

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Shots - Health News
3:35 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Well Does A Drug Work? Look Beyond The Fine Print

Traditional warning labels on medicine boxes tend to be long on confusing language, critics say, but short on helpful numbers.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 9:47 am

Anybody who has ever seen a drug advertisement or talked over the pros and cons of a medicine with a doctor can be forgiven for being confused.

Sorting out the risks and benefits of taking a medicine can be complicated even for professionals.

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Mental Health
3:35 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Pa. Hospital Sees Gun Fight Between Psychiatrist And Patient

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Global Health
3:35 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Leading Ebola Doctor Stricken With The Disease Himself

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Goats and Soda
5:15 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

UNICEF Report On Female Genital Mutilation Holds Hope And Woe

For 15 years, Amran Mahamood made a living circumcising young girls in Hargeysa, Somalia. Four years ago, she gave it up after a religious leader convinced her that Islamic law did not require it.
Nichole Sobecki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 9:00 am

Women and girls are less likely to undergo female genital mutilation, or FGM, than 30 years ago. That's the encouraging news from a UNICEF report on the controversial practice, presented this week at London's first Girl Summit.

The rate has dropped in many of the 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East where FGM is practiced. In Kenya, for example, nearly half the girls age 15 to 19 were circumcised in 1980; in 2010 the rate was just under 20 percent.

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The Salt
4:26 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

Food companies spend a lot of time and resources coming up with the perfect plastic packaging to keep their products fresh.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 2:51 pm

Like it or not, plastic packaging has become an ingrained part of the food system.

While it's clearly wasteful to buy salad, sandwiches and chips encased in plastic and then promptly throw that plastic away, we take for granted how it keeps so much of what we eat fresh and portable.

And behind many of those packages that allow us to eat on the go or savor perishable cookies or fish imported from the other side of the globe is a whole lot of science and innovation.

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Shots - Health News
3:15 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

For Better Treatment, Doctors And Patients Share The Decisions

When weighing the risk of heart disease, how the numbers are presented to patients can make all the difference.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 5:22 pm

Many of us get confused by claims of how much the risk of a heart attack, for example, might be reduced by taking medicine for it. And doctors can get confused, too.

Just ask Karen Sepucha. She runs the Health Decisions Sciences Center at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. A few years ago she surveyed primary care physicians, and asked how confident they were in their ability to talk about numbers and probabilities with patients.

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Shots - Health News
3:03 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

U.S. Teens Still Lag In Getting Vaccinated Against HPV

Dr. Donald Brown inoculated Kelly Kent with the HPV vaccine in his Chicago office in the summer of 2006 — not long after the first version of the vaccine reached the market.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 9:48 am

Though the vaccine against human papilloma virus is highly effective in preventing certain forms of cancer, the number of preteens getting the vaccine is still dismally low, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

"One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn't been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing.

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Goats and Soda
1:58 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

This Suit Keeps Ebola Out — So How Can A Health Worker Catch It?

Protective gear runs from goggles and head covering to gloves and boots. This health worker was photographed leaving the isolation area at the treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 3:56 pm

The fight against Ebola in West Africa suffered a setback Wednesday. Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, one of the top doctors treating patients, caught the virus, even though he was wearing protective gear.

"Even with the full protective clothing you put on," Khan has said, "you are at risk."

That statement made us wonder about those yellow and white suits you see in photos: Just how good are they at protecting health workers from the bodily fluids that can transmit the virus — vomit, blood, sweat, mucus?

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U.S.
12:33 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Do Heat-Sensitive Inmates Have A Right To Air Conditioning?

Inmate dormitories at Louisiana State Penitentiary, like this one photographed in July 2011, have heating in the winter and cooling by fans and open windows in the summer, but no air conditioning. A judge ruled earlier this year that that constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but installation is on hold pending a state appeal.
Scott Threlkeld The Times-Picayune/Landov

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

The exact cause of prisoner Jerome Murdough's death at Rikers Island in February is still under investigation. But the temperature in the cell when he was found in New York City's biggest jail was at least 100 degrees.

The death of Murdough, who had severe mental illness, called renewed attention to a long-standing problem: maintaining reasonable temperatures in jails and prisons.

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