health

Lower-back pain is very democratic in the people it strikes.

"It's a universal experience. You'd be a really uncommon person never to have had an episode of back pain," says Chris Maher, a physical therapist turned health researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia. "It's a common problem across the whole of the globe," he says, whether it's North America, sub-Saharan Africa or rural India.

When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

"This will fix me," O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. "It better fix me or I'm screwed."

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

"Same thing," he says. "Percocet, like, off the street. Pills."

Promising workers lower health insurance premiums for losing weight did nothing to help them take off the pounds, a recent study found. At the end of a year, obese workers had lost less than 1.5 pounds on average, statistically no different than the minute average gain of a tenth of a pound for workers who weren't offered a financial incentive to lose weight.

Bill Radke speaks with Dr. Jennifer Stuber, professor in the UW's School of Social Work and founder of the suicide prevention organization Forefront, about Washington state's new Suicide Prevention Plan.

Many people have Neanderthal genes in their DNA that predispose them to allergies, two studies published Thursday have found.

"So I suppose that some of us can blame Neanderthals for our susceptibility to common allergies, like hay fever," says Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led one of the teams.

"You have a minute to help that baby breathe," says Dr. Mark Hathaway. He works as a senior adviser for family planning at USAID's Maternal and Child Survival Program, and he is showing me how to get a newborn to take its first breath.

And it has to happen now — during the "golden minute" after a baby is born. That's what the medical world calls the tiny window of time an infant must bring oxygen into its lungs.

But I'm not a doctor or a nurse. I'm a reporter. So I am pretty clueless.

Flickr Photo/Chuck Coker (CC BY-ND 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1ZPVQSL

Washington is going to take a different tack on reducing gun violence, Gov. Jay Inslee says: Treat it as a public health problem.

With January comes lots of diet advice.

And today comes the official advice from the U.S. government: The Obama administration has released its much-anticipated update to the Dietary Guidelines.

The guidelines, which are revised every five years, are based on evolving nutrition science and serve as the government's official advice on what to eat.

Pregnant women worry about all kinds of things. Can I drink alcohol? (No.) Can I take antidepressants? (Maybe.) Can I do the downward dog? (Yes.)

Here's a stark fact: Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it's even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn't include time spent using devices for school or in school.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is struggling to convince its customers it's a safe place to eat, after several outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have sickened hundreds of its customers. But no one thinks the task is going to be easy.

Insurance policies that pay a lump sum if workers get cancer or another serious illness are being offered in growing numbers by employers. Companies say they want to help protect their workers against the financial pain of increasingly high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. But it's important to understand the limitations of these plans before buying.

Critical illness plans have been around for decades, but they've become more common lately as employers have shifted more health care costs onto their workers' shoulders.

The clock is ticking for you to get health insurance coverage for 2016: You've got until the end of January, state officials say.

And remember: Not being covered will be expensive. The penalty is $695 per adult or up to 2.5 percent of the person’s income, whichever is greater.

One of the great public-health success stories of the past couple of decades can be found in your cereal bowl.

At a warehouse near Dallas, a black Lab named Papi tugs on a rope to open a fridge and passes his trainer a plastic water bottle with his mouth.

Service dogs are often trained to help veterans with physical disabilities. Now, a growing number are being trained to meet the demand from vets with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

Those dogs learn extra tricks — how to sweep a house for intruders, for example, so a veteran feels safe.

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