NPR Health

A few summers ago in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, an economist named Anant Nyshadham was heading to lunch with some executives at a garment factory.

"We walked through the factory floor on the way to the canteen," he recalls. "And I thought, 'Wow, this is really hot.' "

And this is a man who grew up in the state of Georgia. "But you know, I don't think I'll ever get used to the heat and humidity [there]," he says, laughing. "And India is on a different level."

President Xi Jinping has ordered an investigation — and promised serious punishment — after a drug company was found to have faked production records for a rabies vaccine and sold more than 250,000 doses of a vaccine for infants that didn't meet medical standards.

Regulators said the large drugmaker, Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Limited, had arbitrarily changed the way it makes freeze-dried human rabies vaccines, as well as falsifying records and inspection reports. The government says it has ordered the company to halt production of the vaccine.

There's new evidence that a woman's levels of female sex hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can influence her risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Women are less likely to develop dementia later in life if they begin to menstruate earlier, go through menopause later, and have more than one child, researchers reported Monday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Chicago.

If you're in the hospital or a doctor's office with a painful problem, you'll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 meaning no pain at all and 10 indicating the worst pain you can imagine. But many doctors and nurses say this rating system isn't working and they're trying a new approach.

Jose Belardo of Lansing, Kansas, spent most of his career in the U.S. Public Health Service. He worked on the frontlines of disasters in places like Haiti, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. At home with his three kids and wife, Elaine, he'd always been unfailingly reliable, so when he forgot their wedding anniversary two years in a row, they both started to worry.

"We recognized something wasn't right and pretty much attributed it to being overworked and tired," Elaine says.

In 1998, 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Sara Arey's cervix dilated and her amniotic sac started to descend into the birth canal. She was rushed to a hospital an hour and a half away from her home near Hickory, N.C., where she stayed for more than a week before her baby was born via emergency C-section. The baby, a girl, died 12 hours later in the hospital.

Just over four years ago, on July 17, 2014, six delegates on their way to the International AIDS Conference died in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

The delegates were among the 298 people killed hours after their flight took off from Amsterdam.

International investigations concluded that the missile that downed the jet originated with the Russian military, which has denied involvement.

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If you've been to a beach this summer, anywhere from Texas to the Carolinas, you've likely seen it. Masses of brown seaweed, sometimes a few clumps, often big mounds, line the shore. It's sargassum, a floating weed that's clogging bays and piling up on beaches in the Gulf and Caribbean.

On Miami Beach recently, Mike Berrier was enjoying the sun and the water, despite the sargassum weed.

Growing up in Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Rebecca Lemos-Otero says her first experience with nature came in her late teens when her mother started a community garden.

"I was really surprised and quickly fell in love," she recalls. The garden was peaceful, and a "respite" from the neighborhood, which had high crime rates, abandoned lots and buildings, she says.

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Police have arrested a Brazilian plastic surgeon known as "Dr. Bumbum" after a patient undergoing a procedure on her buttocks suddenly died.

Dr. Bumbum, whose real name is Denis Cesar Barros Furtado, enjoys a huge fan base on social media in Brazil. He was arrested by police in Rio de Janiero on Thursday after five days on the run.

Police say the exact cause of the death of the patient, identified as 46-year-old bank manager Lilian Calixto, has not been determined.

In hospitals across the country, anesthesiologists and other doctors are facing significant shortages of injectable opioids. Drugs such as morphine, Dilaudid and fentanyl are the mainstays of intravenous pain control and are regularly used in critical care settings like surgery, intensive care units and hospital emergency departments.

In the early 2000s — the beginning of the third decade of the AIDS epidemic--the world came together in an unprecedented global health effort to provide life-saving AIDS drugs to people even in the poorest corners of the world. It has been an overwhelming public health success story. In 2000, fewer than a million of the then 34.3 million people with HIV/AIDS were being treated with AIDS drugs, and almost all of them lived in wealthy countries.

A new report out Thursday by the federal government's auditing arm raises big concerns about how the Department of Veterans Affairs handles employees who report wrongdoing and managers found to have committed misconduct.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office's report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct.

One in five working coal miners in central Appalachia who have worked at least 25 years now suffer from the coal miners' disease black lung. That's the finding from the latest study tracking an epidemic of the incurable and fatal sickness.

Tall, dreadlocked Josh Scheper knew he was out of place as he surveyed the scene at a Santa Ana, Calif., parking lot on a Sunday morning this past April. And the 46-year-old loved it.

Hundreds of people waited in line at stalls for vegan food, but few people looked like the Los Angeles resident. Nearly everyone in the crowd was young and Latino, as were the chefs. The food on sale was Mexican — but not hippie-dippy cafe standbys like cauliflower tacos, or tempeh-stuffed burritos. Instead, chefs reimagined meaty classics that were honest-to-goodness bueno.

Mission Health, the largest hospital system in western North Carolina, provided $100 million in free charity care last year. This year, it has partnered with 17 civic organizations to deliver care for substance abuse by people who are low-income.

Based in bucolic Asheville, the six-hospital system also screens residents for food insecurity; provides free dental care to children in rural areas via the "ToothBus" mobile clinic; helps the homeless find permanent housing and encourages its 12,000 employees to volunteer at schools, churches and nonprofit groups.

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Rising drug prices, especially in Medicaid, are straining state budgets. Lawmakers across the country are being forced to make tough choices between giving the poor access to medications and other budget priorities, like education.

Julie Davis directs half a dozen volunteers as they unload a 16-foot truck in front of a Nashville duplex. Bunk beds, dressers, lamps and a diaper-changing station come out of the truck; so do boxes with shampoo, books, toys, a kitchen's worth of supplies.

Eight months pregnant, the drug sales representative wore a wire for the FBI around her bulging belly as she recorded conversations with colleagues at a conference in Chicago. Her code name? Pampers.

CTE has been part of the national lexicon in the U.S. since the 2015 movie Concussion dramatized the discovery of this degenerative brain disease among football players.

Most teens today own a smartphone and go online every day, and about a quarter of them use the internet "almost constantly," according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center.

Now a study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests that such frequent use of digital media by adolescents might increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Patients whose blood cancers have failed to respond to repeated rounds of chemotherapy may be candidates for a new type of gene therapy that could send their cancers into remission for years. But the two approved therapies, with price tags of hundreds of thousands of dollars, have roiled the insurance approval process, leading to delays and, in some cases, denials of coverage, clinicians and analysts say.

To an outsider, the fancy booths at a June health insurance industry gathering in San Diego, Calif., aren't very compelling: a handful of companies pitching "lifestyle" data and salespeople touting jargony phrases like "social determinants of health."

But dig deeper and the implications of what they're selling might give many patients pause: a future in which everything you do — the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV — may help determine how much you pay for health insurance.

Two years after China officially ended its one-child policy in order to counter the country's aging society and shrinking workforce, Chinese couples are not having babies fast enough.

In 2017, there were 17.6 million births in China, representing 12.43 births per thousand people. However, that was a drop from 2016, when the one-child policy was first relaxed – a year that saw 12.95 births per 1,000 people.

Can't cool off this summer? Heat waves can slow us down in ways we may not realize.

New research suggests heat stress can muddle our thinking, making simple math a little harder to do.

Every day, Dr. Walter Koroshetz, 65, takes a pill as part of his effort to help keep his brain healthy and sharp.

The pill is his blood pressure medication. And Koroshetz, who directs the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, says controlling high blood pressure helps him reduce his risk of dementia.

He also keeps his blood pressure down by exercising and paying attention to his weight and diet. "I'm a believer," he says.

When you go to your doctor's office, sometimes it seems the caregivers spend more time gathering data about you than treating you as a patient.

Electronic medical records are everywhere – annoying to doctors and intrusive to patients.

But now researchers are looking to see if they can plow through the vast amount of data that's gathered in those records, along with insurance billing information, to tease out the bits that could be useful in refining treatments and identifying new uses for drugs.

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