Science & Health

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As anyone with diabetes can tell you, managing the disease with insulin usually means regular checkups at the doctor's office to fine-tune the dosage, monitor blood-sugar levels and check for complications.

But here's a little known fact: Some forms of insulin can be bought without a prescription.

Carmen Smith did that for six years when she didn't have health insurance and didn't have a primary care doctor. She bought her insulin without a prescription at Wal-Mart.

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Movie screens are thundering with futuristic stories this year, from the final installment of The Hunger Games to The Martian. Both films started as books — The Martian originally self-published — but it's The Martian that taps into an intriguing trend toward realism. Space travel has been a sci-fi staple for more than a century, and now some of the biggest names in the genre are trying to imagine what it would actually take to send humans to another planet.

Russian investigators have opened the tomb of 19th century Czar Alexander III in search of evidence that may help confirm the remains of his grandchildren, who were executed shortly after the Russian Revolution.

Alexander III, who went by the title "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias," died in 1894. His reign was conservative and repressive, and may have spurred the discontent that eventually engulfed his son, Czar Nicholas II, in revolution.

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In what supporters are calling a historic achievement, 196 nations attending the COP21 climate meetings outside Paris voted to adopt an agreement Saturday that covers both developed and developing countries. Their respective governments will now need to adopt the deal.

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Today was supposed to be the last day of the U.N. Climate Summit. Representatives from nearly 200 countries are continuing their negotiations now in overtime. Our ALL THINGS CONSIDERED co-host, Ari Shapiro, is in Paris covering the summit.

Climate change can affect everything from air and ocean temperatures to weather and disease. In Senegal, one man has made it his mission to connect communities with information that might affect their distant future but also their immediate reality.

To Go Green, Bars Try To Reuse Their Booze

Dec 11, 2015

You probably don't waste a whole lot of wine or booze in your own home. But bars and restaurants throw out alcohol all the time.

The booze, wine and beer left behind in customers' drinks have to be discarded per food safety law, of course.

But what about the wine bottles designated for serving by the glass? Those dregs often go right down the drain.

If you go by their declarations and promises, meat producers are drastically cutting back on the use of antibiotics to treat their poultry, pigs and cattle. Over the past year, one big food company after another has announced plans to stop using these drugs.

But if you go by the government's data on drugs sold to livestock producers, it's a different story.

There are a number of options for women when they learn they have breast cancer in its earliest stages, when the tumor is relatively small and has not yet spread.

Each option is similarly effective when it comes to killing cancer cells and preventing the disease from returning.

Medical advisers to the Food and Drug Administration say that prescription drugs containing codeine should not be used to treat children or the majority of teens suffering from pain or a cough.

In their meeting Thursday, the advisers also voted overwhelmingly against the over-the-counter sales of codeine-containing cough syrup for children. Selling such products without a prescription is currently permitted in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

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For the unhappy people among us who are inclined to yell...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HAPPY GILMORE")

ADAM SANDLER: (As Happy Gilmore) Are you too good for your home? Answer me.

MCEVERS: ...Or call people names...

When police investigate suspicious deaths, one of the key questions is: When did the victim die?

A study published Thursday in Science may lead forensics experts and detectives to a more precise answer in the future.

Researchers studying the microbes on decomposing bodies have found that the mix of bacteria and other organisms on dead bodies changes over time in a clear pattern.

The mysterious bright spots glowed from Ceres' dark surface like alien headlights, capturing many Earthlings' imaginations. But researchers say they're the result of mineral salts, citing data captured by NASA's Dawn mission to study the dwarf planet.

Seven tussling puppies could bring a smile to anyone's face. But one litter has a team of scientists beaming more than usual.

The puppies — five beagles and two "bockers," or beagle-cocker spaniel mixes — are the first ever born through in vitro fertilization.

IVF has been used successfully in other animals — including, notably, humans — for decades. But despite numerous attempts, scientists had never succeeded in using IVF in dogs.

If you've found that you are sensitive to gluten — the stretchy protein that makes wheat bread fluffy and pie crusts crisp — perhaps you've had to bear the brunt of the gluten-free backlash.

Cancers are diverse, and that makes them extremely difficult to treat. What worked stunningly for one person might fail utterly for another. What worked for a tumor in the brain probably won't work on a cancer of the liver. Scientists are trying to outwit tumors by coming up with tailored treatments like the immunotherapy drug used to successfully treat former President Jimmy Carter.

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At the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris, negotiators have 48 hours until their deadline to reach a deal on global warming. Our ALL THINGS CONSIDERED co-host Ari Shapiro is there.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Florida's Everglades has an ecosystem known for its sawgrass, cypress trees, alligators — and perhaps soon, oil wells.

Oil drilling isn't allowed in the 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park, but the ecosystem extends far beyond the park's boundaries — and drilling is allowed in Big Cypress National Preserve, an adjacent protected area about half the size of the park.

Douglas Tompkins, who made a fortune in retailing as the founder of The North Face and co-founder of Esprit and went on to become a major donor to conservation causes, has died in a kayaking accident in Chile. He was 72.

Nearly 200 countries are attending the Paris climate summit and nearly every one has something at stake. Yet it's hard to find anyone with more on the line than Tony de Brum, the foreign minister for the Marshall Islands.

"The Marshall Islands covers an area of approximately a million square miles of ocean. Many people call us a small island state. I prefer to be called a large ocean state," de Brum says.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding the first of a series of hearings Wednesday into why the prices of medicines that have been on the market for decades are suddenly climbing.

The investigation by the Senate committee, led by Maine Republican Susan Collins and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, is focusing on four pharmaceutical companies that bought the rights to certain drugs, and then dramatically increased the prices.

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At the U.N. climate summit in Paris, the U.S. has a big footprint. Cabinet officials scurry from meeting to meeting, trying to get a binding deal that would help some 200 countries slow the planet's warming. Yet in some ways, the United States is an outlier.

"Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously," President Obama said during his visit to Paris at the start of the summit. "They think it's a really big problem."

Climate negotiators in Paris are wrangling over "country commitments," "caps" and "cuts" in greenhouse gases.

Some environmentalists, however, argue that the most important "c" word is missing: consumption. In India, they say little will change unless fossil-fuel-reliant rich countries moderate how they consume energy.

"An inconvenient truth is that we do not want to talk about consumption or lifestyle," says environmentalist Sunita Narain.

Mass shootings and police shootings have spurred calls for authorities to take action to reduce the violence. But policymakers may be stymied by the dearth of public health research into both gun violence and deaths that involve the police. One big obstacle: congressional restrictions on funding of such research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Right now, the CDC studies all kinds of violence. There's a program on child abuse and youth violence, and the public health agency collects data on suicides and sexual assaults.

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If you had traveled to visit Stonehenge around 4,500 years ago, you might have stayed in a village called Durrington Walls, just a couple of miles east of the monument of standing stones. You might have gone to this site in southern England because it was getting close to the winter solstice — and the celebrations at Durrington Walls would have included some pretty incredible feasts.

Drug Cocktails Fuel Massachusetts' Overdose Crisis

Dec 8, 2015

In a brick plaza next to the Chelsea, Massachusetts city hall, Anthony, a bald but still-youthful man in grey sweats, tells me he spent the previous night in the hospital for what he says was his twelfth overdose.

Anthony and other users of illegal drugs agreed to speak to NPR for this story on the condition that we use only their first names. He blames his overdose on what his dealer told him was a particularly strong bag of heroin laced with the anesthesia drug fentanyl — or something like it.

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