NPR Health

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The White House had an unexpected visitor this week, actor Sylvester Stallone. He stood by President Trump as the president announced a posthumous pardon for legendary boxer Jack Johnson.

Patients sitting in emergency rooms, at chiropractors' offices and at pain clinics in the Philadelphia area may start noticing on their phones the kind of messages typically seen along highway billboards and public transit: personal injury law firms looking for business by casting mobile online ads at patients.

The potentially creepy part? They're only getting fed the ad because somebody knows they are in an emergency room.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Attention Please.

About Manoush Zomorodi's TED Talk

With a never-ending stream of stimulation, we rarely experience boredom. But tech podcast host Manoush Zomorodi says we actually need to feel bored in order to jump-start our creativity.

About Manoush Zomorodi

Manoush Zomorodi is the co-founder of Stable Genius Productions.

Police in Nebraska say they've seized 118 pounds of pure fentanyl — one of the largest seizures in U.S. history, they say, and enough to kill more than 26 million people, according to government estimates.

Nebraska State Patrol troopers say they seized the drugs during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Kearney on April 26, but at the time suspected most of the powder to be cocaine.

Michael Frank ran his finger down his medical bill, studying the charges and pausing in disbelief. The numbers didn't make sense.

His recovery from a partial hip replacement had been difficult. He had iced and elevated his leg for weeks. He had pushed his 49-year-old body, limping and wincing, through more than a dozen physical therapy sessions.

The last thing he needed was a botched bill.

His December 2015 surgery to replace the ball in his left hip joint at NYU Langone Health in New York City had been routine. One night in the hospital and no complications.

Each year, malaria kills about half a million people around the world. Health officials say a fast, cheap, accurate way to test for people infected with the malaria parasite would be extremely helpful in combating the disease. Now some engineers in California say they've invented a device they someday will do just that.

The device takes advantage of the fact that the malaria parasite produces tiny crystals inside infected red blood cells. These crystals have a magnetic property. Put a magnet next to a drop of infected blood, and the crystals move toward the magnet.

Chaos is neither friend nor foe. It just is. This week: two very different perspectives on how to deal with life's most tumultuous moments.

We begin in 2015, in a poor slum in the West African country of Liberia. Police have just discovered a young man, dead and covered in stab wounds. Tests show he was infected with a terrifying disease that causes raging fever, severe internal bleeding, and kills up to 90 percent of the people it touches: Ebola.

Grains are the bedrock of civilization. They led humans from hunting and gathering to city-building. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.

But rice as we know it is at risk.

Right To Try Act Poses Big Challenge For FDA

May 24, 2018

In his first year as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb has managed to surprise early critics with bold public health moves, such as a plan to limit nicotine in cigarettes, while also keeping many industry supporters and the president on his side.

On a bright afternoon outside the elegant facade of Trinity College Dublin, students hand out flyers to passers-by urging them to vote in Friday's referendum to lift Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion in most circumstances.

"Please vote yes on Friday! Thank you! Please vote yes," chirp the students, who have big smiles and colored sweaters with "REPEAL" emblazoned across the front.

An appeals court has let stand a lower court ruling overturning a California law that allows physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally ill.

California's Fourth District Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to stay last week's decision by the Riverside County Superior Court, which ruled that state lawmakers should not have passed the law during a special session on health care funding. However, the constitutionality of the law itself — passed nearly three years ago — was not challenged.

One out of five Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers, according to a new report about the economic well-being of U.S. households.

The Federal Reserve report, based on a national survey, also found that exposure to opioid addiction was twice as likely among whites, regardless of education level, as among African-Americans.

A newly unveiled Trump administration proposal would not just block groups like Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds. It also could pave the way for a host of previously ineligible organizations — some of which oppose contraception — to receive funds through the federal government's family planning program.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran on May 25, 2017.

May 24 is Red Nose Day in the United States.

One of the main principles behind purchasing health insurance is protection in the event of an emergency.

But in the case of Anthem, the nation's second-largest insurer, policy holders may be denied coverage if the company considers their visit to the emergency room unnecessary.

Every year, Gallup and Sharecare rank U.S. cities for well-being, based on how residents feel about living in their communities, and their health, finances, social ties and sense of purpose. Perhaps unsurprisingly, places like Naples, Fla., and Boulder, Col., tend to top the list, while Southern and Midwestern towns including Canton, Ohio, and Fort Smith, Ark., often come in last. But what hard data underpin the differences between these communities?

Sometimes 11-year-old B. comes home from school in tears. Maybe she was taunted about her weight that day, called "ugly." Or her so-called friends blocked her on their phones. Some nights she is too anxious to sleep alone and climbs into her mother's bed. It's just the two of them at home, ever since her father was deported back to West Africa when she was a toddler.

The State Department said that a U.S. government employee assigned to Guangzhou, China, has reported experiencing "vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that "the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent" with the symptoms reported by Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. "We have medical teams that are moving to be on the ground there. We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana, and now in China, as well."

Though Americans spend an estimated $80 billion to $100 billion each year in hopes of easing their aching backs, the evidence is mounting that many pricey standard treatments — including surgery and spinal injections — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has devised what could be a powerful new way to hold hospitals accountable for the quality of their care.

Starting in less than two years, if the hospitals haven't met certain designated targets for safety and quality, they'll risk being excluded from the "in-network" designation of health plans sold on the state's insurance exchange.

Legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to get access to experimental drugs is headed to the president's desk.

The House on Tuesday passed a "right-to-try" bill that was approved by the Senate in 2017.

"People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to find a cure," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, on the House floor Tuesday.

The bill, which President Trump is expected to sign, has patient advocates divided.

More coal miners in central Appalachia have suffered the advanced stages of the deadly disease black lung than previous government research has found, and more miners working in the region today have earlier stages of the disease.

Those are two of the findings in a bundle of studies released Tuesday and expected to be released soon, which focus on the epidemic of black lung disease first reported by NPR in 2016.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Every month, about 300 refugees apply for asylum in Denmark, seeking shelter from conflicts and persecution in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. And many of them need help beyond finding a new home.

A 2013 study calculated that 30 percent of refugees in high-income host countries have experienced torture; about 150 refugees seek treatment at the Danish Institute Against Torture every year.

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