What We're Reading: Possible "Superhero DNA" Protected Lucky 13 From Debilitating Diseases

What we're reading, April 13, 2016: scientists find possible "superhero DNA" protecting individuals from debilitating diseases; NPR shines a light on the long wait Native Americans face for healthcare; and doctors rarely discuss weight loss strategies with obese patients.

In a study of nearly 600,000 people, 13 individuals appear to have been born with “superhero DNA.” These people should have developed debilitating diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, but did not, and researchers are hoping to discover what has kept them healthy, according to the BBC. Unfortunately, due to consent rules that the 13 individuals signed when their DNA samples were taken, the scientists have been unable to find them, which means they don’t know what protected the lucky 13 and they cannot prove if there were errors in testing or bad record keeping.

In a special report, NPR highlighted the long wait Native Americans face for healthcare even in the case of emergency. While the federal government is obligated to provide medical care to Native Americans, there are significant gaps and the Indian Health Service (IHS) is chronically underfunded, NPR reported. While national healthcare spending was $7717 per person in 2013, the IHS spent $2849 per person. Access to care and lack of funding are 2 problems, but difficulties coordinating patient records can also hamper care for Native Americans.

When the diagnosis is obesity, most doctors don’t take the time to discuss patients’ options. Although there are a number of ways to lose weight, doctors report they either don’t have the time to discuss weight loss strategies or feel uncomfortable discussing it because they are also overweight, reported US New & World Report. However, doctors can influence their patients, who report being more motivated to lose weight after a doctor advised them to do so. Still, in 60% of doctor visits that were specifically for obesity, the patient receives no advice at all.

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