Sarah Varney is a senior correspondent with Kaiser Health News. She also reports for NPR’s science and health desk and the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and McClatchy newspapers. She has reported extensively on health policy and health disparities within the public health sphere, and she has contributed multiple stories to NPR’s "Living Large," a series on how obesity is changing life in America.

In her book, XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America's Love Life, she travels the country and tells the personal stories of men and women who are experiencing what millions of others feel every day, along with the stories of those who are in the business of helping them: physicians, researchers, scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and more.

  In 2006 when he was 50 years old, Michael Kovarik of Greenwich was a third-grade teacher in a South Colonie School when he felt a lump in his left breast. He never thought he would develop breast cancer, but he did.

Although male breast cancer is rare, it exists. Nationally, the American Cancer Society predicts 2,360 men will develop the disease this year and 430 will die from it. Contrast that with the 232,670 new cases in women and the prediction that 40,000 will die.

Kovarik has been working to raise awareness about male breast cancer and has written a book about his experience, Healing Within: My Journey with Breast Cancer.

9/18/14 Panel

Sep 18, 2014

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, University at Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative reporter, Rosemary Armao and Times Union Associate Editor, Mike Spain.

Topics include:
House ISIS Vote
Times Poll on Obama Security Plan
Times Square Security
Debtor Rules
Health Stories


  Out of 238 million American adults, 100 million live in chronic pain. And yet the press has paid more attention to the abuses of pain medications than the astoundingly widespread condition they are intended to treat.

Ethically, the failure to manage pain better is tantamount to torture. When chronic pain is inadequately treated, it undermines the body and mind. Indeed, the risk of suicide for people in chronic pain is twice that of other people.

Far more than just a symptom, writes author Judy Foreman, chronic pain can be a disease in its own right -- the biggest health problem facing America today.

    Robin Asbell is a chef, food writer, and cooking teacher specializing in natural foods. Her new book, Juice It!: Energizing Blends for Today's Juicers provides 65 vibrant recipes for turning fresh fruits and vegetables into delicious and healthful juices, this refreshing cookbook offers essential guidance for utilizing the increasing number of juicers and high-performance blenders popping up in home kitchens.

    Much is written about psychiatry, but very little that describes psychiatry itself. Why should there be such a need? For good or ill, psychiatry is a polemical battleground, criticized on the one hand as an instrument of social control, while on the other the latest developments in neuroscience are trumpeted as lasting solutions to mental illness.

Which of these strikingly contrasting positions should we believe? In Our Necessary Shadow: The Nature and Meaning of Psychiatry, Tom Burns reviews the historical development of psychiatry, throughout alert to where psychiatry helps, and where it is imperfect. What is clear is that mental illnesses are intimately tied to what makes us human in the first place. and the drive to relieve the suffering they cause is even more human.

Does being happy make you healthier? Is, perhaps, the inverse also true?

Dr. Julia Boehm, assistant professor in psychology at Chapman University, is studying the correlation between mind and body.

E-Cigarettes are rapidly gaining popularity.

Lauren Dutra, post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco's School of Medicine, is studying the correlation between usages of these different tobacco products.

    Decisions made by the food, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, gun, and automobile industries have a greater impact on today's health than the decisions of scientists and policymakers. As the collective influence of corporations has grown, governments around the world have stepped back from their responsibility to protect public health by privatizing key services, weakening regulations, and cutting funding for consumer and environmental protection.

  Herbalist and founder of Good Fight Herb Co, Lauren Giambrone, will be teaching a seminar on herbal medicines at Verdigris Tea & Chocolate Bar in Hudson, NY on Saturday, February 1st. Giambrone has studied at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine and apprenticed with 7Song. The class runs from 5 – 7pm.

Lauren and Good Fight Herb Co offer medicinal herb products, health consultations, volunteer & work trade opportunities, community organizing opportunities, skillshares and workshops.

Lauren joins us to teach us a bit about tinctures, tonics and teas that help promote “natural” health. We are also joined by Betsy Miller who will tell us more about Verdigris Tea & Chocolate Bar.