A map from NC State show “hot spots” denoting high concentrations of manganese in North Carolina well water.
NC State University

North Carolina State University researchers estimate that thousands of North Carolina residents and more than 1 million residents in the southeast have high levels of manganese  in their well water. Manganese is found naturally in soil, but studies have linked long-term exposure to health problems, including cancer and heart defects.

Screenshot of interactive infant mortality rate map of NC
NC Child

Check out this interactive map to explore where your county stands on infant mortality rate.

North Carolina’s infant mortality rate is one of the worst in the country—only eight states have worse rates.

Alex Prolmos / Flickr Creative Commons

The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center show that the number of Americans who say they believe in God has declined in recent years. And millennials are much less likely than older Americans to belong to any religious faith.

But despite these trends, psychiatrist and researcher Harold Koenig argues that science shows that religious belief is good for mental and physical health.

The Army's first ever "Health of the Force" report found that about a third of all soldiers use tobacco, and many have other health issues that affect their performance.

Thousands of service members suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders. At greatest risk: those who are young, female, and under combat stress.

Photo: North Carolina license plates
Flickr User Eugena Ossi

Almost two dozen laws will go into effect on Jan. 1, impacting issues including health, transportation and firearm ownership in North Carolina.

condoms sex ed
Courtesy of

Lawmakers want to allow more types of experts to weigh in on sex education materials under a bill that advanced through the House Wednesday.

Under current law, experts in sexual health education are the only experts who can approve materials for sex education courses in public schools. But the bill the House approved Wednesday allows schools to use materials approved by experts in several additional fields.

Image of Ramon, who helps out with a Know Your Rights training session.
Ramon Zepeda

Foreign-born farmworkers are vital to the American food system. But while most of the produce that ends up on American plates is handpicked, the day-to-day lives of people laboring in the fields still remains more or less invisible. Ramón Zepeda is a 28-year-old working to change visibility of farmworkers.He grew up in a small farming community in Jalisco, Mexico. Most of his family members have spent time in the fields, and he has devoted his life to working in solidarity with underrepresented workers.

Duke professor William "Sandy" Darity studies the economics of social inequality.
@SandyDarity / Twitter

The term “social inequality” points to disparities in economics. 

But in reality, social inequality means inequities in many spheres: health, law, education and culture. Dissecting Inequality: Disparity and Difference in the 21st Century, a conference at Duke this week, explores the reasons for social inequality and the scientific approaches to addressing it.

New research finds that eating an avocado per day, as part of an overall diet rich in healthy fats, may help cut the bad kind cholesterol, known as LDL.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recruited 45 overweight participants who agreed to try three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets. Their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Ebola in Guinea.

It started with a whisper. 

How are Americans sizing up the threat from Ebola?

A Harvard School of Public Health poll finds that more than a third of Americans (38 percent) are worried that Ebola will infect them or a family member over the next year.

Most (81 percent) believe Ebola can spread from someone who is sick and has symptoms. And that's correct.

Photo of Dr. Jeffrey Brantley

Everyone gets mad sometimes, but learning to control anger is a challenge for many people. 

A chart showing the where there is a risk for CRE infections

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are organisms that do not respond to antibiotics. They're mostly picked up by patients while in the hospital, and have a mortality rate ranging from 48% - 71%.  What's more, between 2008 and 2012, reports of CRE jumped five-fold in the southeastern United States.

Robin Koval is making a career of her changed tobacco habit.

"I'm a child of a smoker — my father was a heavy smoker," Koval says. "Really typical to the way the story goes, I started smoking when I was 15."

Now she is president and CEO of Legacy, a foundation devoted to preventing tobacco use.

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.

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

  State lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow the use of a marijuana oil to help treat childhood seizures.

Researchers say the hemp oil extract, known as cannabidiol (CBD), is not psychoactive and would be used to treat only debilitating seizure disorders.

Several lawmakers, like Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), showed their support for the bill by relating their experiences of having family members with epilepsy.

WakeMed CEO Donald Gintzig

After a controversial year, WakeMed Health and Hospitals' Donald Gintzig became permanent CEO last month. Gintzig is a retired Rear Admiral in the United States Navy with experience leading non-profit, faith-based and private health systems. 

Assorted pharmaceuticals
creative commons


A recent deal between the biopharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis may mean more jobs and more attention for the Research Triangle. Plus, the $1.1 billion sale of Furiex pharmaceuticals increases possibilities for investment in the area. Meanwhile, Mooresville's Vestiq Holdings, a much smaller pharmaceutical company, is filing for bankruptcy. 

SwitchPoint 2013

There's a fascinating conference happening Thursday and Friday at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. It's called SwitchPoint. This is the conference for you if you're interested in things like using technology for good, social entrepreneurship and creativity/design.

The attendees are the kind of people who are doing the most interesting things in our society: printing 3-D organs, crowdsourcing crisis response via text, building medical devices out of broken toys.

UNC Hospital
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

UNC Healthcare has cut back the number of patients it's seeing at several of its facilities over the past two weeks. The hospital system is in the process of transitioning to a new electronic medical records system, and the cutbacks are part of anticipated roll-out period procedure.

The system, known as EPIC, is the same records software being implemented at Duke and Novant health systems. EPIC will allow patients to more seamlessly transition between the state's hospitals.

Dancing Through It My Journey In The Ballet Image of Jennifer in Pink Costume against black background / Penguin


In 2010, Jenifer Ringer starred as the sugar plum fairy in the New York City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. And when a New York Times dance critic insinuated in a review of the performance that Jenifer was overweight, she responded.  Her recent book Dancing Through It: My Journey in The Ballet talks about how she overcame that criticism and her struggle with health and weight (Penguin/2014). 

Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, and professor of Pediatrics at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. sitting in a movie theater / UNC Healthcare and school of medicine


Movies like Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and Up, may seem like harmless entertainment. But a new study shows these films may promote unhealthy behavior, especially eating habits, to young people. 

Brian Southwell's new book studies the effectiveness of social networking in spreading health news.
John Hopkins Press

Scientists and public health officials are increasingly turning to social media and peer-to-peer networks to educate the public.