Longer Looks: Obama And Smoking; ‘Poster Child’ For Chemical Regs; Abortion Training
Each week, KHN's Alana Pockros finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Why It Matters If Obama Smokes (And Why It Doesn’t)
Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has aced three physicals. He regularly exercises, especially playing basketball, and has a personal chef — not to mention wife — who ensure he eats healthy. But he has one (potential) vice that keeps coming back up: smoking. (Maya Rodhan, 6/10)
The New York Times:
Chemicals In Your Popcorn?
What do a pizza box, a polar bear and you have in common? All carry a kind of industrial toxicant called poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, that do two things: They make life convenient, and they also appear to increase the risk of cancer. The scientists I interviewed say that they try to avoid these chemicals in their daily lives, but they’re pretty much unavoidable and now are found in animals all over the planet (including polar bears in Greenland and probably you and me). PFASs are used to make nonstick frying pans, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, firefighting foam and thousands of other products. Many are unlabeled, so even chemists sometimes feel helpless. (Nicholas Kristoff, 6/4)
The Scarcity Of Abortion Training In America's Medical Schools
One of the reasons I went to medical school was to become an abortion provider—and, coming from a strongly pro-choice family, to use my medical training to increase abortion access in the U.S. I always assumed that my ability to do so was simply a matter of my willingness to perform the procedure. But in seeking out opportunities to learn about abortion—as a medical student, and now as a resident in family medicine—I have ended up in Philadelphia, where there are widespread abortion services, and where women don’t face the same barriers to abortion as they do in Kansas. As I think about the kind of doctor I want to be, I have to reckon with whether or not I have what it takes to serve the women who need me most. (Mara Gordon, 6/9)
The New Yorker:
Why Aren’t We More Scared Of The Bird Flu?
Ebola, which was responsible for two deaths in the United States, caused a level of unfettered hysteria hardly seen here since Senator Joseph McCarthy accused half the country’s creative class of holding membership in the Communist Party. The bird flu, although it has now caused the deaths of more than forty-five million chickens, devastated the American poultry industry, doubled the price of most eggs, and is by far the worst such outbreak in U.S. history, somehow doesn’t seem as menacing to people in this country. No doubt that is in part because the virus has not killed a single person. It doesn’t even infect humans. We can only hope that those facts remain unchanged. But we shouldn’t bet millions of lives on it. (Michael Specter, 6/9)
The Supreme Court's Gay Marriage And Obamacare Rulings, Predicted
June is always the most exciting month of the year for the Supreme Court. Typically, the court decides its most high-profile cases then, usually late in the month. And this June is no exception. It will bring important decisions regarding the Confederate flag on license plates, lethal injection drugs, regulating emissions of coal and power plants, housing discrimination and more. But those decisions will be decided in the shadows of two of the highest-profile cases the court has had in years, or possibly decades: Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, and King v. Burwell, the decision about whether to gut Obamacare and end affordable health care access for millions of people in the United States. (David Cohen, 6/8)
The New York Times:
Global Diabetes Rates Are Rising As Obesity Spreads
The global diabetes rate has risen by nearly half over the past two decades, according to a new study, as obesity and the health problems it spawns have taken hold across the developing world. The prevalence of diabetes has been rising in rich countries for several decades, largely driven by increases in the rate of obesity. More recently, poorer countries have begun to follow the trend, with major increases in countries like China, Mexico and India. (Sabrina Tavernise, 6/8)