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Peter Haden / WLRN

Spit in a tube. Drop it in the mail.

In a few weeks, a genetic counselor calls you up with your results.

JScreen is a non-profit public health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases. It is based at Emory University in Atlanta. For $149, the test will tell you if you are a carrier for more than 200 genetic diseases.

When she was a young physician, Dr. Martha Gulati noticed that many of her mentors were prescribing vitamin E and folic acid to patients. Preliminary studies in the early 1990s had linked both supplements to a lower risk of heart disease.

She urged her father to pop the pills as well: “Dad, you should be on these vitamins, because every cardiologist is taking them or putting their patients on [them],” recalled Gulati, now chief of cardiology for the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

Survey: Florida Lags In Healthiest Cities

Feb 13, 2018

Florida cities have some perks when it comes to healthy living, but overall they don’t make the cut when it comes to a newly published list of healthiest cities in the United States.

iStockphoto via NPR News

According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes – many of them the Type 2 form of the disease. That's where the body doesn't produce enough insulin on its own.

Florida was among the nation’s worst in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2015, part of a 10 percent increase nationwide, according to an analysis of preliminary state traffic fatality data.

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

Spencer Bragan

In a story that has gained international attention, a Tampa blind date set up by Tinder has helped saved a life.

Peek into a Peloton indoor cycling class in New York's posh Chelsea neighborhood and it'll look like most other indoor cycling classes. Sixty stationary bikes are clustered in a dark room, loud music blares to get the heart racing, and a mic-ed up instructor motivates riders.

Except this class has one major difference: Instructor Jen Sherman isn't just talking to riders in the classroom. She's also monitoring metrics for riders in places like New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Kansas. "Jamie in Wichita, good to see you this morning," she says.

Florida Medicaid, which has been touting its "Managed Medical Assistance" program as a national model, may want to hold off.

The program, which shifts virtually all Medicaid recipients into managed-care plans, underestimated how much their care would cost.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Abuse. Drugs. Mental health issues.

It’s tough enough for anyone to talk about those problems. It can be even harder for teens facing them for the first time.

Eat more when you're stressed? You're not alone. More than a third of the participants in a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health said they change their diets during stressful times.

And many of us are quick to turn to either sugary foods or highly refined carbohydrates such as bagels or white pasta when the stress hits.

Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.

In fact, it's essential.

Stress is bad for your health. And bad health causes a lot of stress.

Poor health and disability are common among people who say they suffer from a lot of stress, according to a national poll by NPR, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

And it's not just those whose own health is poor. Serious illness and injury often impose enormous stress on entire families.

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."

Stress is part of the human condition, unavoidable and even necessary to a degree. But too much stress can be toxic — even disabling.

And there's a lot of toxic stress out there.

A national poll done by NPR with our partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they had a great deal of stress in the previous month.

When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical.

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida.  He's also lived through several hurricanes.  

“I remember the worst one for me was in the Bahamas, where I was on the first floor and it was a pretty bad hurricane, and Nassau typically floods a lot,” Said said.

When he offers advice on preparing for hurricanes, it comes from his own experience.

Todd Farha, former CEO of WellCare Health Plans, drew a three-year sentence for Medicaid fraud Monday, far below the sentencing guidelines. The judge said Farha has already suffered the loss of his reputation and career and that he is unlikely to repeat his "mistake."

Other former WellCare executives also drew sentences lighter than the guidelines:   former CFO Paul Behrens, two years; William Kale, who led the subsidiary where the fraud took place, one year and one day; and Peter Clay, a former vice president, who received probation.

The Health News Florida team is coming to USF Sarasota-Manatee on Thursday, May 8 at 5:30 p.m. for a brief program and reception.

It's your chance to meet us and the leaders of WUSF Public Media, which has been our home since September 2012.

Lottie Watts

For the first time, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is including the time spent in a car getting to and from work as a factor that influences health in its County Health Rankings.

The addition of the commuting measures comes out of a number of different studies, according to Dr. Roderick King, executive director of the Florida Public Health Institute.   

Whenever we give in to temptation, be it for a helping of something divine, like fine chocolate, or just a so-so piece of saltwater taffy abandoned next to the office coffeepot, there's something more than self-control at work.

Woven into the complexities of food choices and eating behaviors are all sorts of subtle factors that we're likely not even aware of.

Flickr Creative Commons

A bit of bad news on this Good Friday: If you thought living in the land of sunshine and freshly squeezed orange juice would make you the picture of health, then you're sadly mistaken.

In a new Gallup-Healthways poll, Tampa Bay scored lowest for well-being among the country's 52 largest metro areas.

The findings were based on phone interviews last year with 353,563 adults, who were asked to rank their hometowns on six factors: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to basic necessities.

Summer Safety: Heat-Related Illnesses

Jul 3, 2012
Dreamstime

You've been hearing about the record-breaking heat in parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. It's not quite as hot here, but hot enough to cause heat-related illnesses. 

Summer is the time for "fun in the sun." That means more people will be outside in the heat. Health officials are reminding people to be safe about it.

Heat-related illnesses like heat stress, exhaustion, and stoke are more common in these hotter temperatures.