Health Desk

In the gritty industrial town of Yiwu, workers prepare jeans to be dyed in a vivid range of colors.

Two months ago, this factory — and this entire city, located in China's eastern province of Zhejiang — was a much quieter place. Inspection crews from the environmental bureau had shut businesses down, cutting electricity and gas so that they could determine who was following China's environmental laws and who wasn't.

The boss of this factory, who asked that his name not be used for fear of punishment by local officials, says he's never seen anything like it.

Screening For Diabetes Is Working Better Than Thought

13 hours ago

Undiagnosed diabetes may not be as big of a public health problem as thought.

That's the takeaway from a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine that says that some previous efforts have likely overestimated the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes because they relied on a single positive test result.

Here's something that may sound like a contradiction in terms: low-fat pigs.

But that's exactly what Chinese scientists have created using new genetic engineering techniques.

In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report that they have created 12 healthy pigs with about 24 percent less body fat than normal pigs.

What counts as dietary fiber? That's up for debate.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing 26 ingredients that food manufacturers use to bulk up the fiber content of processed foods to determine if there's a health benefit.

If you're a nutrition-label reader, the list includes some familiar-ish sounding ingredients — such as inulin, which is often sourced from chicory root.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When it comes to brain training, some workouts seem to work better than others.

A comparison of the two most common training methods scientists use to improve memory and attention found that one was twice as effective as the other. The more effective method also changed brain activity in a part of the brain involved in high-level thinking.

When Annie Dennison was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she readily followed advice from her medical team, agreeing to harsh treatments in the hope of curing her disease.

"You're terrified out of your mind" after a diagnosis of cancer, said Dennison, 55, a retired psychologist from Orange County, Calif.

In addition to lumpectomy surgery, chemotherapy and other medications, Dennison underwent six weeks of daily radiation treatments. She agreed to the lengthy radiation regimen, she said, because she had no idea there was another option.

Dove isn't the only skin-care company caught up in a controversy about its ads.

Nivea, a German company with global reach, has been called out on social media for ads in West Africa that many described as racist, colorist and tone-deaf.

The ads promote Natural Fairness Body Lotion, a cream that promises, according to the tagline, "visibly fairer skin." The social media storm erupted after the Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG posted the ad on Instagram this week.

When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.

Urinary tract infections cause painful urination and are unfortunately widespread. Scientists estimate that somewhere between 40 percent to more than 50 percent of women will get a UTI in their lifetime, and one in four will get a repeat infection. Left untreated, they can lead to kidney problems.

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Editor's note: The archived video of the polio panel discussion will be posted next week.

The world is incredibly close to wiping out polio. This year the number of polio cases has shrunk to fewer than a dozen. And those cases are in just two countries- Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rose Crumb can't even count the number of people she's helped die.

The former nurse, 91, who retired in her mid-80s, considers the question and then shakes her head, her blue eyes sharp above oval spectacles.

"Oh, hundreds," estimates Crumb, the woman who almost single-handedly brought hospice care to the remote Pacific Northwest city of Port Angeles, Wash., nearly 40 years ago.

Exposure to polluted air, water and soil caused nine million premature deaths in 2015, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.

The causes of death vary — cancer, lung disease, heart disease. The report links them to pollution, drawing upon previous studies that show how pollution is tied to a wider range of diseases than previously thought.

This winter is going to be a warm one for the majority of the United States, according to forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

They say that the La Niña weather pattern is likely to develop. That means "greater-than-average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies, with less-than-average snowfall throughout the Mid-Atlantic region," Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center said in a forecast Thursday.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

A bipartisan coalition of 24 senators — 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats — has signed on to health care legislation to prop up the individual insurance market and keep premiums down. With the expected support of all Senate Democrats, it could have the votes to pass the chamber. But questions remain over when it might actually get a vote, as well as whether President Trump and House Republicans would bring the bill over the finish line.

As someone who lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder, novelist John Green sometimes feels like his mind is spiraling uncontrollably.

"It starts out with one little thought, and then slowly that becomes the only thought that you're able to have," Green says. "It's like there's an invasive weed that just spreads out of control."

The night before the fire overtook LeRoy and Donna Halbur, the couple had dinner at their home north of Santa Rosa, Calif., with their eldest son, Dave, his wife and their 2-year-old son. Dave Halbur remembers it as a typical Sunday dinner with his folks.

We "had Chinese food and talked. It was a really nice evening," Halbur recalls.

The fire came through a few hours later in the early morning darkness. By Monday, Dave Halbur had heard nothing from his parents. LeRoy and Donna Halbur were both 80.

It's a bright fall morning in Santa Cruz County, Calif., and the tennis area at Brommer Street Park is overrun with dozens of people. But they aren't here for tennis. Instead, cadences of pick-pock sounds fill the air as doubles players — many in their 50s and older — whack yellow Wiffle-like balls back and forth on eight minicourts.

This recreational craze, which has an estimated 2.8 million players nationally, has a quirky name: pickleball.

It was the Friday before a Monday deadline, and federal health officials in Washington, D.C., were working feverishly with their counterparts in Oklahoma to finalize the details of a new state reinsurance program.

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The day before Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Rico's governor predicted that the island would soon need, quote, "help from all our fellow citizens."

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Editor's note: This story contains graphic language.

As women around the world tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault using the phrase "#MeToo," one prominent voice added her own harrowing account.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For more on President Trump's role in all of this, NPR's Geoff Bennett joins us now from the White House. Hi, Geoff.

GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

The Deal With Drug Czars

Oct 18, 2017

The role of drug czar took the spotlight this week when Trump administration nominee Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.,

withdrew his name from consideration for the position.

For people with diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range – not too high or too low – is a lifelong challenge. New technologies to ease the burden are emerging rapidly, but insurance reimbursement challenges, supply shortages, and shifting competition make it tough for patients to access them quickly.

Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET

A proposal in the Senate to help stabilize Affordable Care Act marketplaces would ensure that subsidies paid to insurance companies benefit consumers rather than padding the companies' profits.

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