NIAID / Creative Commons

We’re finally going to do a show about you! And when I say this, I’m not talking to the people listening, but to the microbes living in their armpits and belly buttons. This hour, we tell the humans what you little guys have been doing for them all along -- and how much more you might be able to do with a few tweaks from science.

Tim Samoff / Creative Commons

For the third year in a row, a proposal to allow the terminally ill to receive medication to end their lives will be before Connecticut legislators.

One of the main opponents has already launched a campaign against the bill. 

Courtesy of Access Health CT

When people without health insurance get around to filing their taxes this year, they may find that they have to pay a penalty. State officials are working on a fix. 

The Affordable Care Act mandates that everyone have insurance or face a fine. Last year was the first year the penalty applied, but some people may not know they owe it until they prepare their 2014 taxes -- and it's already too late to sign up for health insurance for 2015.

Sarah Sphar/flickr creative commons

What types of foods burn faster when you eat them? Is it really possible to love your food and lose weight? What is the secret to not feeling tortured or deprived by an eating plan? Don't miss our second conversation with metabolic doctor Reza Yavari, who runs Beyond Care in Madison, Conn., and is on the staff of Yale's Northeast Medical Group in Trumbull, Conn.

Sage Ross / Wikimedia Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed legislation requiring officials at nonprofit hospitals to disclose financial benefits they would gain if the hospital is bought by a for-profit entity.

The Journal Inquirer reports that Malloy's bill would require the disclosure as part of the approval process.

Paul Keller / Creative Commons

With sex education being a big political issue in many states, what does this all mean for the future of sex education funding in America? 

This hour, local and national experts weigh in on how public schools are talking to students about their sexual health. We learn about the history of sex education in the U.S., and find out where it's all headed in the future.

Creative Commons

Alzheimer's Disease affects millions of Americans, but right now, there isn't a known cure. Researchers in Connecticut, however, suggest that the solution might lie in understanding the gooey protein that builds up in brains of Alzheimer’s patients. 

Homelessness in Greater Hartford: Meet Sal Pinna

Feb 20, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

Salvatore Pinna, 52, grew up on Long Island and came to Connecticut 20 years ago. In official parlance, Pinna is chronically homeless, which is how the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development describes someone who has been homeless for a year or more, or who has had at least four incidences of homelessness in three years, and has a disability. 

Pinna more than fits the description. He has effectively been homeless since he came to Connecticut in the '90s. Some of that time he spent living on the streets and sleeping under bridges. 

New findings have lead researchers to believe that the link between marijuana and hunger is not just psychological.  Recently published in Nature, Yale professor Tamas Horvath, with his colleagues at the Yale School of Medicine, have monitored the brain circuitry that promotes eating and have found that neurons in the brain which are used to suppress appetite remain active while using cannabis.   

Alyssa L. Miller / WNPR

My mother was an Alzheimer's patient. I think it's fair to say the disease killed her although like a lot of people in their 80's with serious illnesses, she got caught in a whirlpool of problems that made it hard to pin the blame on any one thing.

Parents have made news recently after being detained for purposefully leaving children on their own, prompting renewed debate about so-called "free-range parenting."

That includes Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, a Silver Spring, Md., couple who are being investigated after they let their children, ages 10 and 6, walk home from a park last month by themselves.

Bortoletto family

Ten million uninsured people nationwide have enrolled in private health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. But it doesn't cover everyone living in the U.S., like undocumented residents. This includes the Bortoletto sisters who live in Connecticut.  

Ted Murphy / Creative Commons

A study co-authored by Yale University finds a link between problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Over the years, it's been difficult for psychiatrists to classify problem gambling. It was once considered a impulse control disorder.

In the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, problem gambling is classified as an addiction.

A new study by Yale University, St. Louis University, and the VA finds an overlap between problem gambling and obsessive compulsive behaviors. 

Office of Gov. Malloy

Connecticut passed several laws in recent years to address the growing problem of addiction to opioids and the rising number of overdose deaths. Governor Dannel Malloy will unveil a package of proposals this legislative session to further prevent abuse of painkillers and overdoses.

The state has a Good Samaritan law that encourages people to call 911 if they are with someone overdosing. Doctors can also write a prescription for anyone to obtain Narcan, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses. 

Malloy's proposals will include allowing pharmacists to prescribe Narcan after being trained and certified through the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

America is growing older, and so is its population of HIV-positive adults. This year, for the first time ever, half of Americans living with HIV are 50 years old and older. For many of them, like Michael Hawkins of New Britain, Connecticut, life presents a unique set of challenges, including increased social isolation. I visited Hawkins recently to learn how he's been coping with HIV. 

Ethan Stock / Creative Commons

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t worry whether our food and working conditions were safe, or whether government regulators were keeping track of these things for us -- but we don’t live in a perfect world.

In fact, there’s a sense that if you run a big company, and you’re responsible for something really bad happening, that you’ll probably skate away with a slap on the wrist while somebody else has to live with the damage done.

The U.S. surgeon general lists 21 deadly diseases that are caused by smoking. Now, a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine points to more than a dozen other diseases that apparently add to the tobacco death toll.

To arrive at this conclusion, scientists from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and several universities tracked nearly a million people for a decade and recorded their causes of death.

scantaur/iStock / Thinkstock

For the first time ever, the federal government is penalizing more than 700 hospitals across the country for having high rates of things called hospital acquired infections.

Those are potentially avoidable mistakes in health care, like urinary tract infections.

In Connecticut, 14 hospitals are facing the penalty -- and that means they're losing millions of dollars. 

The Affordable Care Act is well-known as a law intended to get more people on health insurance. But it also has provisions intended to improve health care itself. This is one of them.

When Sara Martín's children were infants, she made sure they got all the recommended immunizations.

"And then somewhere when they became toddlers I started to fall a little behind on the vaccinations," she says. "Not intentionally — just, that's kind of how it happened for me."

Martín is 29 years old and a single mother of two. She says it was a huge chore to travel from her home in East Los Angeles to a community clinic downtown.

akunamatata/flickr creative commons

No surgery. No medication. No drastic measures. Just healthy jointsfor life!

In Healthy Joints for Life, leading orthopedic surgeon and former NFL player Richard Diana applies his unique experience and training to tackle joint pain. Based on cutting-edge research that has clarified the crucial role of a molecule known as NFkB in regulating inflammation, Dr. Diana's proven eight-week program teaches you to harness the power of this research to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and rejuvenate your joints.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Do you know anyone who’s ever had measles, mumps, or rubella? Those diseases have essentially been wiped out in the U.S. because of effective and widespread adoption of vaccines. 

But that might be changing. Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that last year, there were more than 600 measles cases in the U.S., and that was more than there have been for a long time. "This year, there were 100 in January alone," he said.

Natalie Maynor/flickr creative commons

Thai basil chicken… joyful chocolate almond bars… no-bake cake… sweet potato and ground turkey shepherd's pie… it's all in the new book The Science of Skinny Cookbook, produced by the scientist Dee McCaffrey, who eliminated synthetic chemicals from her diet and went from obese to slender. Now she offers the recipes that have made her plan a success…

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A state representative has asked for a study of laws and policies governing vaccine exemption to determine if waivers intended for genuine religious objections are being used by parents personally opposed to vaccinations.

The Hartford Courant reports that State Representative Matt Ritter, House chairman of the Public Health Committee, wants a study of exemption laws and policies in states with the same waivers as Connecticut.

Javier Villa has worked at his family's used car dealership in San Juan, Puerto Rico, ever since he finished high school.

Villa, 35, always assumed the insurance plan he had through work would take care of him and his family. But a couple years ago, he ran into a problem.

He was taking a shower one morning when he noticed a lump on the side of his throat. "Very big, like maybe a tennis ball," he says.

D.C.'s new mayor Muriel E. Bowser surprised advocates for the homeless in the district when she filed an emergency motion late Thursday, hoping to end a mandatory demand to provide all homeless families a private room when temperatures drop below freezing.

Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."

Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.

Flickr Creative Commons, Pink Sherbet Photography

Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?

"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."

Paul Goyette / Creative Commons

There were 124 child fatalities in Connecticut between 2005 and 2014.  The state Department of Children and Families studied the cases and is now implementing a new strategy to identify and support at-risk families. 

DCF's study found that the most common cause of death was from Sudden Infant Death syndrome, or SIDS.

Susan Smith, DCF's Chief of Quality and Planning, said 34 percent of the child fatalities were attributed to SIDS when combined with unsafe sleep.

Flickr Creative Commons / DNA Art Online

Precision medicine includes all the stuff that makes you, you -- your DNA, the stuff inside your gut, your family history -- into medical care.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to funnel $215 million into a "Precision Medicine Initiative," with the hope of one day incorporating things like a person’s genome into everyday medical treatment. 

Senate Democrats

The U.S. Senate approved the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act by a vote of 99-0 Tuesday afternoon. The bill seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans. 

The federal VA estimates 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Marine Clay Hunt has become the face of the suicide epidemic. Hunt killed himself in 2011 after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family and veteran advocates say he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and received inadequate care from the VA before taking his own life.