Health

Vietnamese authorities have buried thousands of cats, many of them apparently still alive, that were destined for restaurant tables. The Associated Press says the felines were culled because they posed an environmental and health risk.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.

For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don't go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.

Mike Quaglia was 42 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which gradually robs its victims of their ability to move normally. For the next seven years, his condition deteriorated despite medication.

"I was at a point where I was either going to give up and let the Parkinson's take over, or I was going to decide to fight back," Quaglia says.

Fight back he did — literally. Last February he stumbled on a program called Rock Steady Boxing. That's right: It teaches Parkinson's patients how to box.

Across the country, efforts to make marijuana more accessible have quickly gained traction. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational use is also legal in four states and the District of Columbia.

Science, however, hasn't quite caught up. Largely due to its illegal status, there's been very little research done on marijuana's health effects. And researchers don't fully understand how pot affects the developing teenage brain.

This may explain the why the nation's pediatricians have changed their recommendations on marijuana and children.

Jennifer Pemberton

If it passes, it would be one of the strictest wood burning bans in the nation. State officials are accepting public comment on a proposed winter burn ban. UPR’s Jennifer Pemberton has this report on the overwhelming opposition expressed at Wednesday night’s public hearing in Logan.

In the simplest terms it’s the right to burn versus the right to breathe. At least that’s how those who oppose and support a seasonal ban on wood burning in Northern Utah are voicing it.

Governor Herbert tasked the state Air Quality Board with probing public opinion on the ban, which would prohibit use of all wood stoves in seven inversion-prone Utah counties from Nov. 1 to March 15 in an effort to limit winter air pollution.

At the public hearing Wednesday night in Logan the opposition was overwhelming. The sheriff’s office estimates there were 500 people trying to attend the hearing in the Cache County Courthouse with a capacity of 160.

Vapor produced by electronic cigarettes can contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — researchers reported Wednesday.

The findings, described in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, intensify concern about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular.

Schools are offering more and more healthy foods for lunch. And schools that participate in the National School Lunch program require students to choose a fruit and a vegetable side. Yet plate waste is a big problem in schools; as The Salt has reported, kids throw away anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of what's on their trays.

Noncommunicable diseases have become the leading killers around the globe. In 2012, two-thirds of all deaths worldwide were the result of conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory infections. The mortality rate from noncommunicable diseases was even higher in low- and middle-income countries.

What is it that's most likely to kill you? The World Health Organization says that in the 21st century, it's your lifestyle.

And it's not just a Western problem.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will step down.

Tavenner announced her departure on Friday in a message to staff.

"I have great pride and joy knowing all that we have accomplished together since I came on board five years ago in February of 2010," Tavenner said.

Obama administration officials have warned that ambitious experiments run by the health law's $10 billion innovation lab wouldn't always be successful. Now there is evidence their caution was well placed.

Only a small minority of community groups getting federal reimbursement to reduce expensive hospital readmissions produced significant results compared with sites that weren't part of the $300 million program, according to partial, early results.

Americans, by and large, don't seem all that worried about what happens to the information in their medical records.

A NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll found that data privacy didn't appear to bother most respondents. Privacy worries ran highest for information held by health insurers, but even then only 16 percent of people expressed concern.

ct.gov

This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

It's a new way to do silk screening, that's for sure.

Bangalore-based Achira Labs has figured out a way to hand weave diabetes test strips from silk. That sounds pretty luxurious compared to the standard materials of plastic or paper. But silk turns out to have several advantages in a country like India, where weavers who can work a handloom are abundant and the material is readily available and inexpensive.

A trip to Disneyland is on many families' bucket lists, but that dream probably didn't including catching the measles.

Nine people who visited Disneyland or Disneyland California Adventure Park during December have confirmed measles cases, state health officials said Wednesday. Seven of the patients live in California and two live in Utah.

As New Year's resolutions go, cutting back on food and drink are right at the top of the list. And while those vowing to change their eating habits may cut the carbohydrates or say a sweet goodbye to sugar, for regular drinkers, the tradition may involve what's known as a "dry January": giving up booze for a month.

But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits?

Copyright 2015 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.mtpr.org.

Potent Bird Flu Spotted In West, Utah May Be Next

Jan 5, 2015
turkey
www.markey.senate.gov

Utah officials are warning hunters and owners of backyard poultry flocks to be wary of a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus that could appear in the state.

Though currently no affected birds have been reported, Utah is on the migratory path of affected animals, which have been found in Oregon, California and Washington.

Dr. Warren Hess, a veterinarian for the state, said the virus is carried by water fowl, but the effects are felt by domesticated birds.

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M&M's that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

Young children are especially susceptible to the seasonal flu, and annual flu immunizations are the best way to protect them.

But many children under 9 require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected, and only about half of those who need two doses get both. That's in addition to the one-third of children in the United States who don't get flu immunizations at all.

What'll it take to drive those numbers up? Simply texting parents a few reminders may help.

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

Editor's note, Jan. 15, 2015: Mae Keane was one of the last "radium girls," but not the last one. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the full correction note.


Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Mae Keane.

In the early 1920s, the hot new gadget was a wristwatch with a glow-in-the-dark dial.

"Made possible by the magic of radium!" bragged one advertisement.

It's time to set the table for 2015. What will be the next kale? Has the cupcake breathed its last?

We're headed for high times. As states legalize marijuana, cannabis comestibles are coming. Pot brownies — so 1960s — are joined by marijuana mac 'n' cheese and pot pesto. There's a new cooking show called Bong Appetit.

Another crushed leaf is this year's superdrink. Matcha is made from green tea and promises a calmer energy boost than Red Bull. The Japanese have been drinking it for centuries.

Vegan Christmas
http://recipes.millionhearts.hhs.gov/

The holidays can be stressful for anyone planning on cooking a Christmas feast, but especially for those who are trying to cook for their vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free friends and family.

Chef Ian Brandt is the owner of some of Utah’s most beloved vegetarian-friendly restaurants including Sages Café, Vertical Diner and Cali’s Natural Foods in Salt Lake City.

While Brandt said he himself takes a break from cooking and parties during the holidays, he said he’s seen the stress that comes with trying to get a meal to turn out just right. His advice: develop a cookbook of your own.


You're in the supermarket gathering ingredients for eggnog and a Christmas Bundt cake, and you're staring at a wall of egg cartons. They're plastered with terms that all sound pretty wonderful: All-Natural, Cage-Free, Free-Range, Farm Fresh, Organic, No Hormones, Omega-3. And so on.

And yet the longer you stare at them, the more confused you become. You are tired and hungry, so you just grab the cheapest one — or the one with the most adorable chicken illustration — and head for the checkout line.

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