Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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There's no shortage of statistics about the depth of America's opioid epidemic — there were 72,000 overdose deaths just last year — but numbers don't tell the whole story. Beth Macy takes a ground-level look at the crisis in Dopesick, a new book focusing on central Appalachia. Macy has spent three decades reporting on the region, focusing on social and economic trends and how they affect ordinary people — she says this area is the birthplace of the modern opioid epidemic.

Federal health advisers say women can now consider three options when it's time for their cervical cancer screening tests. The influential group, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, has expanded its recommendations for this potentially lifesaving exam.

The new recommendations are published in the latest issue of JAMA.

The Trump administration has moved to formally replace the Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that former President Barack Obama once lauded as the single-most important step America has ever taken to fight climate change.

The long-anticipated proposal, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, would give individual states more authority to make their own plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Across California and the West, where dozens of large wildfires are burning, public health agencies are urging people to seal off their windows and doors, change filters in air conditioning units and in some places wear masks if they have to go outside for any extended period.

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When it comes to cancer survival, the United States is sharply divided by race. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cancer death rate for African-Americans is 25 percent higher than whites, and Hispanics and Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a late, and more dangerous, stage of the disease.

Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there.

Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.

As a nation, we could do a better job at taking time off.

About half of full-time workers recently surveyed by the U.S. Travel Association didn't take all the paid vacation days they earned last year.

More than 700 million vacation days went unused, and we forfeited about 200 million of those days — when vacation benefits didn't roll over. On average, American workers took almost six fewer vacation days than we earned.

Michael Doody remembers some things about his Columbus, Ohio neighborhood in the 1990s:

"Gunshots, helicopters, thefts, smashed out windows, burglaries, robberies, assaults and murders."

In addition to the crime, roughly 50 percent of the children were living in poverty in this area, known as Southern Orchards.

During the mid-20th century, construction of an interstate through the middle of the community separated many of the neighborhood's majority black residents from job opportunities in downtown Columbus.

Mountain Gets A Downgrade To A Hill

Aug 19, 2018

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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.

Eyeliner On Spiders: It's For Science

Aug 18, 2018

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We learned this week that scientists in Florida are putting eyeliner on spiders. Why? Well, to understand, you need to know male jumping spiders are pretty flamboyant during mating rituals. They vibrate and dance. And they're pretty colorful too.

'Ticker' And Building An Artificial Heart

Aug 18, 2018

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Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Story Behind The Numbers.

About Paul Gilding's TED Talk

Environmental activist Paul Gilding says the world has been growing too fast for too long. And now...the Earth is full. The only solution, he says, is to radically change the way we consume.

About Paul Gilding

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For more on K2 and to get a better sense of exactly what this substance is, we turn to Dr. Kathryn Hawk. She's assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven. She joins us now. Welcome to the program.

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.)

Perhaps you've heard that classic anecdote about Richard Feynman, the Nobel-winning theoretical physicist, who famously spent hours with a buddy puzzling over why uncooked spaghetti always breaks into more than two pieces.

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.

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When Star Ames was a child there was a flood. The streets were like rivers and the houses like islands. It was 1960 and the village of Odanah, Wis. was up to its neck.

The town had been built on the banks of the Bad River, in the floodplain. "I remember watching the river come up," Ames says. "Every place we thought was high enough, the water kept coming up."

Florida this week declared a state of emergency because of a slow-moving natural disaster — red tide.

Red tide is toxic algae that have persisted off Florida's Gulf Coast for nearly a year. In recent weeks, the algae bloom has worsened, killing fish, turtles and dolphins and discouraging tourism on some of the state's most beautiful beaches.

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Usually when scientists find fossils of ancient creatures, they're not in great shape.

BROOKS BRITT: They all look like roadkill.

Watch This Native Pollinator Build Her Bee-Jeweled Nest

Aug 14, 2018

While honeybees and their buzzing hives and hyper-fertile queens get all the press for pollinating our food supply, the hard-working blue orchard bee is one of 4,000 bee species native to North America that does its solitary work in relative obscurity. That is, until now.

Women struggling with symptoms like vaginal dryness and pain during sex, may be drawn to treatments, marketed as "vaginal rejuvenation," that claim to fix such issues.

Providers who offer the treatments, often dermatologists or plastic surgeons' offices, often claim they can not only cure discomfort, but also tighten the vagina and give it a more "youthful appearance."

This week, the Puy du Fou theme park in western France put some new employees in the field: six trained rooks, members of the crow family, picking up small pieces of paper and cigarette butts in exchange for food.

Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, Bricole and Baco officially started their new gigs on Monday.

For the record, the park would like to note, the corvid colleagues are not replacing any human cleaning staff.

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