Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Part 4 in a four-part series

The human tissue industry has created medical advances for millions of Americans. Tissue taken from cadavers is turned into medical products for the living. A tendon can be used to repair a torn ACL. Veins are used in heart bypass operations. Bone can be turned into plates and screws. They look like something you'd find in a hardware store, but these get used to mend a broken leg. It's a $1 billion-a-year industry that attracts the altruistic, but sometimes the greedy.

Interactive: Mapping The U.S. Drought

Jul 18, 2012

Texas experienced its worst drought on record last year. Now that the state is seeing some relief, drought conditions have consumed more than half the United States. Use this interactive map and chart to see how conditions have changed over time. Related story: 1,200 counties affected.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the first OK for a drug to prevent HIV infection.

The daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV. It's been a mainstay in the treatment of HIV/AIDS for years, and as of today is an approved option for reducing the risk of HIV infection for people at high risk.

More rain headed toward Alabama

Jul 12, 2012
The Drought Monitor / National Drought Mitigation Center

Forecasters say more storms are headed toward Alabama, but still more rain is needed to break a worsening drought.

The National Weather Service says there's a good chance of precipitation statewide on Thursday. The Tennessee Valley counties in north Alabama could get 1 or 2 inches of rain with gusty winds, and high temperatures will top out around 80 degrees.

There's an 80 percent chance of rain in central Alabama, and a 60 percent chance on the coast.

It's well-known that exercise is good for our bones, even as we age, but how about that nightly glass of wine?

A new study of women in their 50s and early 60s finds that moderate alcohol consumption may help prevent bone loss. The women in the study consumed about 1 1/2 drinks per day.

Most Americans use electricity, gas or oil to heat and cool their homes. But the small city of Brainerd, Minn., is turning to something a bit less conventional: the sewer.

As it turns out, a sewer — the place where a city's hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city's sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.

It's just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd hopes to exploit.

We now know that Pluto, the dwarf planet formerly known as a planet, has one more moon orbiting it. Using the Hubble Space telescope, astronomers have discovered Pluto's fifth moon.

NPR's Joe Palca filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The new moon is tiny, something between 6 and 15 miles across. It showed up in nine separate images the space telescope made in the last month. The latest image came earlier this week.

Study says Gulf oil spill might have lasting impact

Jul 10, 2012
NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Flickr

New research by an Auburn University professor and other scientists suggests that the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could have significant impacts on microscopic life that might not become apparent for years.

Auburn professor Ken Halanych and scientists from the University of New Hampshire, the University of California Davis Genome Center, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, published their work last month in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Documenting 'Dirty' Jobs: Miners At Work

Jul 9, 2012

When I was little, my mom bought me a book of photos: Lewis Hine's Kids at Work, a softcover volume made for kids my age at the time. Seeing images of barefoot boys in cotton mills and toddlers picking fruit was my first encounter with the power of photography. I couldn't believe kids my age worked so hard — and in such dangerous conditions.

This story is part of an investigation into how federal regulators and the mining industry are failing to protect coal miners from the excessive toxic coal mine dust that causes black lung.

The concern about black lung isn't just focused on coal miners working underground. A new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) documents severe cases of the disease among surface coal miners, too.

What Is Black Lung?

Jul 9, 2012

An investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity found federal regulators and the mining industry are failing to protect miners from the excessive toxic coal mine dust that causes black lung. The disease is now being diagnosed in younger miners and evolving more quickly to complicated stages.

When we think about improving urban food systems, we tend think about growing more vegetables — densely planted backyard plots and community gardens, with tiny tomatoes ripening in the sun. But according to some experts, we should start thinking smaller — way smaller — as in bugs.

It's hot today. Really, really, hot; over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit hot, and so I'm sweating.

Sweating is what we people do to cool off, which is good. But sweating is also what makes me ... what's the word? Odoriferous. (Latinate for stinky, which is not so good.)

With triple-digit heat across the country and places from Denver (105 degrees) to Farmville, Va. (106), setting or tying all-time record highs, let's set down our lemonades and iced teas long enough to show our appreciation for Willis H. Carrier.

So scientists at the Tevatron, the premier U.S. particle collider that was shut down last year, may be announcing their own results on the Higgs search today. Tommaso Dorigo, a physicist at CERN reports the status in his Quantum Diaries Survivor blog with a post called A Significant Higgs Signal From The Tevatron !

As Dorigo puts it

California has long been a trendsetter. But when it comes to reducing smoking and lung cancer, the Golden State's success hasn't taken the entire nation by storm.

Just take a look at the chart, which shows lung cancer death rates among white women by the year they were born.

For those women born since 1933, lung cancer death rates in California have dropped by more than half. In Alabama, they've more than doubled.

No, said airline security, you can't take this bottle onboard. It exceeds the 100 milliliter limit; it's forbidden.

But wait, said professor Martin Birchall of Bristol University. This is a medical container. Inside is a trachea, a carefully constructed human windpipe, seeded with 60 million stem cells from a very sick woman in Barcelona. We have just 16 hours to get it into her body. We pre-arranged this.

We have no record of your request, said the airline.

picture of mosquito on skin
eyeweed / Flickr

A warmer winter in Alabama means an early mosquito season. While the biting bugs can spoil your outdoor summer events, they can also pose a serious health threat. Dee Jones is the state public health veterinarian. He says illnesses like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis tend to effect particular groups of people.

Tuscaloosa, AL – It's been one week since cuts to the state's Medicaid budget took effect. A dire budget shortfall prompted state lawmakers to make spending cuts. Dr. Don Williamson is Alabama's public health officer and is also chair of the Medicaid Transition task force. Alabama Public Radio's Ryan Vasquez talked to Wiliamson about the short term and long term impact of the cuts as well as how to fix Medicaid going forward.

Tuscaloosa, AL – A reported 5 million Americans have Hepatitis C, with 13,000 of those cases in Birmingham alone. And according to a new study, 75% of those patients don't know they have it and baby boomers make up the biggest group. A recent survey of over 1,000 people found that only 5% thought they were at risk for Hepatitis C. Dr. Michael Ryan is a clinical professor with the Eastern Virginia Medical School. APR's Maggie Martin talked with Ryan about why baby boomers are so at risk.

Birmingham, AL – April's tornadoes left a devastating mark on neighborhoods and businesses across Alabama. But for some residents, the storms took a toll on their mental health as well. Alabama Public Radio's Maggie Martin takes a look at a federal program that trains and deploys Alabamians as crisis counselors to assist storm survivors rebuild their lives.

Tuscaloosa, AL – After last week's tornados devastated dozens of neighborhoods across Alabama, health professionals scrambled to tend to the injured and prevent further illnesses from breaking out. The most pressing health issues in the state range from the blood supply for trauma victims to food and water safety. Alabama Public Radio's Maggie Martin takes a look at some of the short term health concerns in the wake of the disaster.

Valdez, Alaska – Part Two "The View from Valdez." Bob Donald is the talk of the town in Gulf Shores near Alabama's beaches. Before moving to the beaches, he and his wife lived in Valdez, Alaska during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Donald, former Valdez Mayor Dave Cobb, and first responder Stan Stevens re-live the accident on Prince William Sound, and the painful aftermath Gulf coast residents may face here in the years to come.

Tuscaloosa AL – In her final episode of Prototype, executive producer Courtney Bowland takes into a brief "hibernation" with a recap of some favorite stories as told by her faithful staff of reporters. Stay tuned as a new voice comes to Prototype this summer!

Tuscaloosa, AL – In this edition of Prototype, Todd Panciera talks with some University of Alabama seniors about their memories from college. Ryan Vasquez follows that with a chat with an ESPN scouting director about the celebrity aspect of football recruits. Executive Producer Courtney Bowland tries to keep herself composed as she nears the end of her EP tenure.

Tuscaloosa, AL – On this edition of Prototype, Bulter Cain talks with a journalist who has traveled all the way from Germany, and Courtney Bowland talks love and relationships with Dr. Linda Enders, a marriage and family therapist.

Tuscaloosa, AL – In this edition of Prototype, Todd Panciera interviews a blood plasma donor and finds out about the peculiar job requirements it takes to be one. Brandon Hollingsworth looks at some off-the-wall college classes that students are able to take. Executive Producer Courtney Bowland produced the show.

Tuscaloosa, AL – In this edition of Prototype, Tricia Masucci investigates the process involved in "How To" make beer. Ryan Vasquez talks to a few college football recruitors about the demands of their job. And Courtney Bowland, our Executive Producer, tells us how you can contribute to the APR Fund drive and how it might get you a free iPod Nano.