Health & Science

Ways to Connect

Scientists on the hunt for anti-aging drugs say they've made an advance with tantalizing potential: Two experimental drugs appear to safely boost the immune systems of elderly humans.

The researchers stress that more research is needed to confirm the findings and show the drugs are safe. And at least one researcher says the findings are based on a relatively small number of people and used methods that could produce misleading results.

Still, many researchers say the findings are encouraging.

The population of Madagascar has more than doubled over the past generation, from 11.8 million in 1990 to 25 million today. And with more mouths to feed, residents are cutting down rainforests so there will be more land for agriculture.

That's a threat to the rainforest ecosystem. Madagascar rainforests are home to rare and endangered species like the black-and-white indri, the largest known lemur, topping out at about 20 pounds.

Many people who attempt suicide end up in an emergency room for immediate treatment. But few of those suicide survivors get the follow-up care they need at a time when they are especially likely to attempt suicide again.

Now, a study shows that a simple intervention conducted by staff in emergency departments can reduce the risk of future attempts. The intervention involves creating a safety plan for each patient and following up with phone calls after discharge.

If there's one thing we're grateful for on Shots, it's our passionate, engaged audience. Our stories often prompt a lively response from readers and people who hear us on the radio. This was definitely the case with Monday's look at the use of permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites, which can cause a lot of nasty diseases.

Fresh Starts

Jul 11, 2018

In 2006, Derek Amato suffered a major concussion from diving into a shallow swimming pool. When he woke up in the hospital, he was different. He discovered he was really good a playing piano.

It was a hot day at the zoo when Jordan Carlson's son, who has motor-planning delays, got thirsty. "We went to the snack bar and found out they had a 'no straw' policy," Carlson says. "It was a hot day and he couldn't drink."

This week, we're tackling questions from readers who are worried about health insurance roadblocks in the face of a serious illness or medical crisis.

Q: I think genetic testing could be a great tool for physicians. My fear is what the insurance industry will do with the information, especially in today's political climate. Could they decide that you have a pre-existing condition and charge a higher rate, or not cover you at all?

Summer is the season of downtime, relaxation and, hopefully, some vacation. NPR is working on a series about how technology has changed our summers. We want to hear your stories about how your vacations have been affected, for better or worse, by tech.

Your responses may be used in an upcoming story, on air or on NPR.org. A producer may reach out to you to follow up on your response, too.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Senate Democrats, who are divided on abortion policy, are instead turning to health care as a rallying cry for opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Specifically, they are sounding the alarm that confirming the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals judge could jeopardize one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

President Trump is now applauding Pfizer for agreeing to reverse or postpone drug price hikes, a day after he pressured the pharmaceutical giant in a scathing tweet.

He posted a tweet Tuesday evening saying he has spoken with both Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ian Read about the price increases. Trump praised Pfizer for "rolling back price hikes, so American patients don't pay more," saying he "hopes other companies do the same."

Like millions of global citizens, Abraham Leno has been riveted by the story of the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.

"I sat around the radio with my family and we wanted to hear the recent updates of the kids, every little detail," he says. "To see all the governments sending their best divers, giving them equipment, offering their moral support — it was a beautiful thing to see."

Fast-food workers may be stuck in jobs for various reasons. In many cases, their employers prevent them from leaving to work for other restaurants within the same chain.

Now, 10 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia are taking on the issue with an investigation into eight national fast-food chains. At issue are "noncompete" clauses that limit where employees can work after they leave.

U.S. officials made threats to Ecuador in an attempt to water down a resolution in support of breastfeeding, according to a report in The New York Times.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Right now, paleontology is booming. Lots of scientists are entering the field, competing for academic and research jobs. And a new dinosaur species is being discovered on average every 10 days.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

By some accounts, nearly half of America's incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren't getting the treatment they need.

Roth has visited jails in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta and a rural women's prison in Oklahoma to assess the condition of mentally ill prisoners. She says correctional officers are on the "front lines" of mental health treatment — despite the fact that they lack clinical training.

What would the U.S. look like without Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide?

That's the question now that President Trump has chosen conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

How Postcards Solved The Problem Of Disappearing Rice

Jul 10, 2018

Imagine if you had a rice delivery system that was supposed to deliver grain from point A, a government warehouse, to point B, homes of low-income residents.

But for every 100 kilos of rice that left the warehouse less than 50 kilos were actually reaching people's kitchens. This was the situation in Indonesia for nearly two decades as the government tried to provide a nutritional safety net to the nation's poorest citizens.

Pages