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Your doctor probably nags you to schedule cancer screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies. These tests, after all, can be life-saving, and most doctors want to make sure you get them done.

But when it comes to explaining the ways that certain screenings can cause you harm, your doctor may not be doing such a good job.

Carolyn Beans is a freelance science journalist living in Washington, D.C. She specializes in ecology, evolution and health.

In Washington, D.C., Peter Rabbit regularly challenges me to stop wasting food. On a billboard hovering beyond my local grocery store and on posters on bus stop shelters, he casually chomps on a carrot while leaning on big bold letters: "Better Ate Than Never."

Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.

Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.)

Editor's note: Story updated with additional information about generic pricing on August 17.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first identical alternative to the EpiPen, which is widely used to save children and adults suffering from dangerous allergic reactions.

The FDA Thursday authorized Teva Pharmaceuticals USA to sell generic versions of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr for adults and children who weigh more than 33 pounds.

Heavy smoke from wildfires is shown on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, outside of Wenatchee.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

If you're a longtime Seattleite, this may seem like one of the worst weeks ever for air pollution.

Air quality experts say ... that's probably true. 


Aaron Reid is lying in a hospital bed at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center when doctors arrive to make sure he's ready for his experimental treatment.

"How's your night? Any issues?" asks Dr. Katherine Barnett, a pediatric oncologist, as they begin to examine Reid.

Reid, 20, of Lucedale, Miss., has been fighting leukemia since he was 9 years old. He has been through chemotherapy and radiation twice, a bone marrow transplant and two other treatments.

Hospital stays are usually short: days, weeks, sometimes months.

But when the state of Washington sent 16 patients with brain injuries to a rehabilitation hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, some of them ended up staying for years.


More than $12 million dollars.

That’s what the state of Washington spent to send 16 patients with serious brain injuries to a rehabilitation facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Between 2014 and 2017, the state of Washington sent 16 patients with brain injuries to a rehabilitation hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Sometimes people with severe brain injuries develop behavioral issues that are hard to manage. This can make it difficult to find them a place to live.

 


My back hurts when I sit down.

It's been going on for 10 years. It really doesn't matter where I am — at work, at a restaurant, even on our couch at home. My lower back screams, "Stop sitting!"

To try to reduce the pain, I bought a kneeling chair at work. Then I got a standing desk. Then I went back to a regular chair because standing became painful.

I've seen physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and pain specialists. I've mastered Pilates, increased flexibility and strengthened muscles. At one point, my abs were so strong my husband nicknamed them "the plate."

Taking a genetic test in your 20s or 30s could, indeed, affect your ability to get long-term-care insurance later — or at least the price you'll pay. And people who are considering enrolling in Medicare after age 65 would do well to read the fine print of the sign-up rules. Readers have insurance questions on these topics this month, and we have answers:

Q: Can getting a genetic test interfere with being able to buy long-term-care insurance in the future? If you do get a plan, can the insurer drop you after you find out the results of a genetic test?

On the evening of August 14, 2010, Steve and Laurie Jenks were returning to their motel from a wedding in Walla Walla. It was dark and Steve, who was driving, had been warned to watch for deer along Highway 124. 

Have you ever been on a diet but didn't hit your goal weight? Your gut bacteria may be part of the explanation.

New research suggests the mix of microbes in our guts can either help — or hinder — weight-loss efforts.

"We started with the premise that people have different microbial makeups, and this could influence how well they do with dieting," explains Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The first prescription medication extracted from the marijuana plant is poised to land on pharmacists' shelves this fall. Epidiolex, made from purified cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant, is approved for two rare types of epilepsy.

Its journey to market was driven forward by one family's quest to find a treatment for their son's epilepsy.

Japanese media is buzzing about reports that a prestigious Tokyo medical school systematically lowered women's scores on an admission test in order to admit fewer women.

Starting in about 2011, Tokyo Medical University started deducting points from female applicants' entrance exam scores, according to multiple reports.

A national shortage of anesthesia and pain medications have put providers in a tough spot, including in obstetrics. Collage
KUOW Illustration/Isolde Raftery

The supply room for drugs at Wenatchee LifeLine, a rural ambulance service, is bare. Morphine is scant. Bags of saline are precious.

Heading May Be Riskier For Female Soccer Players Than Males

Jul 31, 2018

The first rule of soccer is pretty obvious: don't use your hands. But soccer's signature move, heading the ball, can cause a detectable impact on players' brains. And according to a study published Tuesday in Radiology, female players are more sensitive to the impact than males.

Was it hard to concentrate during that long meeting? Does the crossword seem a little tougher? You could be mildly dehydrated.

A growing body of evidence finds that being just a little dehydrated is tied to a range of subtle effects — from mood changes to muddled thinking.

When Cayti Kane delivered a baby boy via cesarean section last year, her team of doctors was prepared.

Kane had been diagnosed with placenta accreta, a condition that increased the likelihood of a dangerous hemorrhage during delivery. When that happened, she had an emergency hysterectomy. Kane and her son went home healthy.

The Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would affect about 40 percent of the payments physicians receive from Medicare. Not everybody's pleased.

It's hard enough for employers to find workers to fill open jobs these days, but on top of it, many prospective hires are failing drug tests.

The Belden electric wire factory in Richmond, Ind., is taking a novel approach to both problems: It now offers drug treatment, paid for by the company, to job applicants who fail the drug screen. Those who complete treatment are also promised a job.

The two biggest blood networks in the Pacific Northwest say the region's blood supply is suffering a critical shortage.

When Dorothy Paugh was 9, her father bought a pistol and started talking openly about ending his life. Her mother was terrified but didn't know what to do.

"She called our priest and called his best friend," Paugh recalled. "They came and talked to him, and they didn't ask to take his gun away."

Her father was 51 when he shot himself to death.

Avoid heating food in plastic, especially those with recycling codes 3, 6 and 7.
Wikimedia Commons, User Z22 http://bit.ly/2OiW387

Pediatricians are urging Congress to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to collect more data  on chemicals in food.

A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics says synthetic chemicals used as additives and in food packaging are harmful to kids.

Hospitals Gear Up For New Diagnosis: Human Trafficking

Jul 24, 2018

The woman arrived at the emergency department at Huntington Hospital on New York's Long Island after she was hit by her boyfriend during an argument. Her situation raised concerns among the medical staff, which had recently been trained to be on the lookout for signs of sex trafficking.

If you're in the hospital or a doctor's office with a painful problem, you'll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 meaning no pain at all and 10 indicating the worst pain you can imagine. But many doctors and nurses say this rating system isn't working and they're trying a new approach.

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016 file photo, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington during a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on The Flint Water Crisis.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

The city of Flint, Michigan represents the height of American ingenuity, productivity and economic progress — and also the mirror opposite. 

In the early 2000s — the beginning of the third decade of the AIDS epidemic--the world came together in an unprecedented global health effort to provide life-saving AIDS drugs to people even in the poorest corners of the world. It has been an overwhelming public health success story. In 2000, fewer than a million of the then 34.3 million people with HIV/AIDS were being treated with AIDS drugs, and almost all of them lived in wealthy countries.

Eight months pregnant, the drug sales representative wore a wire for the FBI around her bulging belly as she recorded conversations with colleagues at a conference in Chicago. Her code name? Pampers.

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