Side Effects

Our reporting focuses on the impacts of environment, policy and economic conditions on Americans' health. Please contact us if you are interested in republishing these stories for free. Learn more about joining our network here.

CDC/ Debora Cartagena

Every month, Cynthia Edwards breathes through a machine that can tell if she’s been smoking. If the machine registers a low enough number, she takes home a $25 voucher to help her pay for diapers for her five-month old son, Justus.

New numbers released by the federal government reveal a continuing upward trend in drug overdose deaths, with 43,982 deaths in 2013 from both prescription medications and illegal drugs combined. Deaths involving prescription opioids increased 1 percent from 2012, while heroin-related deaths rose a staggering 39 percent.  However, almost twice as many people died from prescription opioid overdoses (16,235) as from heroin (8,257).

In Banjol, Liberia, neighbors of an Ebola victim watch medical workers carry away his body.
Dominique Faget / AFP/Getty Images

Since March of 2014, Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 8,600 people and sickened more than 21,000. Fortunately, according to the latest World Health Organization data, new transmissions are on the decline in Guniea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

woman jogging

If you’re already wavering on your resolution to shed those fifteen pounds, cut down on your drinking, or eat more kale, here’s another reason to stick with it.

From ALS to Egg Freezing: Top 10 Health Headlines of 2014

Dec 31, 2014
man with ice bucket
Kim Quintano |

In the year just past the world saw tragic epidemics (and we don't just mean Ebola), millions of Americans gaining health insurance, a silly campaign for a serious cause, groundbreaking, and sometimes weird, advances in medicine (poop pills, anyone?), and more. Here's a look back at the top health stories of 2014.  

1. West Africa Experiences Deadliest Ebola Epidemic on Record