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multiple sclerosis

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Sue Beder, who has had multiple sclerosis since she was 18, is one of America's most expensive patients. Journalist Martha Bebinger checks in to see how she's doing.

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Soda makers take off the gloves as do Republican governors, while reporters use disease to humanize Ann Romney and surfers protest plans for new nuclear plants in Japan.

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“I’ve had MS [multiple sclerosis] since I was 18 years old,” says Sue Beder, 65, as she begins to tell her story. “My husband passed away when he was 37, leaving me with two children. It was hard, but my parents were a big help. I’ve always had a lot of doctors.”

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Bioethicist Leigh Turner, recently under fire from a stem cell company he criticized for ethical problems, talks about his research on medical tourism.

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Doctors and bloggers slam Huffington Post for wacky health theories, unhealthy journalism in wake of AOL merger, more from our Daily Briefing.

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This story is Part 8 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Ind.

Gary resident Teresa Johnson said she recognizes the woman in the “before” pictures and remembers her pain.

Johnson, 50, who worked with developmentally disabled adults in Lake and Porter counties before becoming disabled, said she has been overweight all her life.

“I had very little success losing weight on my own,” she said. “I’d lose weight and then gain it right back. But last year I needed a knee replacement surgery and didn’t want to have it while I was still morbidly obese.”

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What are the causes of cancer? What makes us older? If lifestyle choices like smoking cigarettes or drinking cola increase our risk of cancer, what can we do to try reverse or change these decisions? Is it even possible to reverse the damage? How proven are these theories?

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The therapeutic use of cannabis (marijuana) is a hot topic in some parts of the United States. The National Institutes of Health do not recommend its use for treatment of any illness, though some physicians prescribe it for pain, glaucoma, nausea and anorexia associated with chemotherapy, and, less commonly, for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraine, and asthma. Laws on medical usage vary by state, with 13 states, as of July 2009, permitting medical usage under certain conditions. The majority of Web sites on medical marijuana have a bias one way or another.

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Dr. Igor Grant is a professor and executive vice chairman of the psychiatry department at the UCSD School of Medicine. He also serves as director of two important research programs at UCSD: the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC), a clinical research center designated and funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health; and the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR), headquartered at UCSD and a collaborative effort of UCSD and UCLA to rigorously study the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis to treat certain diseases.

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Annie Burke-Doe is a faculty member at the University of St. Augustine's San Diego campus. Previously, she was an assistant professor of physical therapy at California State University, Fresno. She received her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of the Pacific in Stockton and her master's in physical therapy from University of the Pacific. She works with children and adults with neurologic disorders, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, duchenes muscular dystrophy, metabolic disorders, stroke, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

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If you're a journalist with big ideas who wants your work to matter, the Center for Health Journalism invites you to apply for the all-expenses-paid-- five days of stimulating discussions in Los Angeles about social and health safety net issues, reporting and engagement grants of $2,000-$12,000 and six months of expert mentoring.

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