Health Desk

Remember the headlines a few weeks back, when the World Health Organization categorized red and processed meats as cancer-causing?

Turns out, the techniques you use to prepare your meat seem to play into this risk.

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn't just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

"The refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries." It could have been said today about the Syrian refugee crisis, but those words belong to President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940.

When A Stranger Leaves You $125 Million

Nov 21, 2015

One morning last year, when Bryan Bashin sat down to check his email, a peculiarly short note caught his attention.

"A businessman has passed away. I think you might want to talk to us," it read.

Bashin directs a nonprofit in San Francisco called the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, so he gets a lot of email about donations. But this one felt different. It came from a group of lawyers handling the estate of a Seattle businessman who had died, Donald Sirkin.

I remember being handed a white coat during my first year of medical school. It came crisply folded in a cellophane bag. I was told to wear it anytime we were in the hospital or with patients as a sign of respect.

There was no pomp about it. I took it home and tried it on. It was like putting on a costume and pretending to play doctor. The white coat continued to feel that way to me for a long time.

Where do you call home?

It seems like a simple question. But for ten million people around the world, there is no easy answer: They are stateless. They lack basic documents like a passport or a national ID card. And so they may not be able to go to school, hold a job, own land, get health care.

Photographer Greg Constantine calls them "Nowhere People" — that's the title of his new book, which documents the daily lives these individuals.

The giant roundworm looks a lot like an earthworm. It's pinkish, up to a foot long and can live for two years.

Opioids have a stranglehold on parts of the U.S. And where addictive pain medicines are the drug of choice, clinics for addiction treatment often follow.

Sometime these are doctor's offices where patients can get painkiller-replacement drugs, such as Subutex and Suboxone.

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The National Institutes of Health decided their last 50 research chimps are no longer needed. That means some new tenants are coming to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Louisiana. Cathy Willis Spraetz runs the group, and she's on the line with us.

After twice being declared Ebola-free, Liberia is reporting new cases of the disease.

The first case that was confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, was a 10-year-old boy in the capital, Monrovia. He fell ill on Nov. 14, was hospitalized a few days later and confirmed as having Ebola Thursday.

It's still unclear how the boy became infected, says WHO's special representative on Ebola, Bruce Aylward.

Lafayette Square across from the White House is a popular spot for people with a political bone to pick. Next to the persistent "ban nuclear weapons" sign, protesters come here to picket in front of the president's home. On Wednesday, there's a group of women gathered behind a banner scrawled with messages, among them: "Remembering those who lost their lives to the war on drugs." "Keeping faith, hope, and love in our hearts."

Colistin is the antibiotic that doctors use as a last resort to wipe out dangerous bacteria.

"It's really been kept as the last drug in the locker when all else has failed," says Dr. Jim Spencer, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Like Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is a time for coming together with loved ones – only the focus is on friends.

The Friendsgiving dinner – usually a potluck affair with plenty of booze — has taken off in recent years, especially among millennials. (Thank the gang from television's Friends for helping to popularize the concept.)

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A kind of salmon that's been genetically modified so that it grows faster may be on the way to a supermarket near you. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish on Thursday — a decision that environmental and food-safety groups are vowing to fight.

In recent days, presidential candidates and even the American Medical Association have griped about rising drug prices, pointing to brand-name blockbusters with splashy ad campaigns.

When it comes to patient satisfaction, however, there isn't much difference between brands and generics, according to data collected by the website Iodine, which is building a repository of user reviews on drugs.

UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurance company, says it's considering dropping out of the public exchanges that are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act, because it's losing money on them.

"We cannot sustain these losses," CEO Stephen Hemsley said in an investor call Thursday morning. "We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."

Cancer patients shopping on federal and state insurance marketplaces often find it difficult to determine whether their drugs are covered and how much they will pay for them, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society says in a report that also calls on regulators to restrict how much insurers can charge patients for medications.

You'd think that everyone on the planet would know how to use a flush toilet: Flip open the cover, assume the position and go.

But for many people, the flush toilet is a UFO — an unfamiliar flowing object.

Today is World Toilet Day, a chance to think about the billions of people in the world who don't have toilets. People like me.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread quickly in the past two years through the Pacific Islands and South America. Although there have been no reported deaths from the illness, a spate of recent outbreaks is cause for concern.

The Middle East is bursting at the seams from the Syrian refugee crisis. When I was in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley a few months ago, tension was mounting between the locals and the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who've flooded into the area. Officials in one town were threatening to evict hundreds of Syrians living in a squalid camp in a muddy lot. Schools have been overwhelmed by Syrian students.

In the United States, a baby is born dependent on opiates every 30 minutes. In Tennessee, the rate is three times the national average.

The drug withdrawal in newborns is called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, which can occur when women take opiates during their pregnancies.

After testing all the pieces of a tiny pill-size device, Albert Swiston sent it on a unique journey: through the guts of six live Yorkshire pigs.

Pig bodies are a lot like human bodies, and Swiston wanted to know whether the device would be able to monitor vital signs from inside a body. It did.

You're at the grocery store, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. You've grabbed sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cans of pumpkin. If you're from the Midwest like I am, you're also gearing up for green bean casserole.

But when you approach a refrigerated section of the store piled high with turkeys, you're suddenly inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on. Pretty soon, your head is spinning, so you grab the nearest one. As you head to the checkout line, you wonder if you've just made an ethical choice or been duped.

We live in a society where sex is often touted as the secret sauce that keeps a relationship tasty. So more sex must be better for you and your romantic partner, right?

Well, for established couples, having sex once a week hits the sweet spot for happiness and well-being, a study finds. This is either great news or tragic, depending on how you're feeling about your sex life.

It turns out that psychologists are working hard to figure out whether more sex makes us happier.

Blake Atkins gets a lot of texts from his mother when he's at school. But unlike most teenagers, this 16-year-old doesn't seem to mind.

That's because four years ago, Atkins was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And now, his mother, Lori, has a way to find out and let him know when his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range.

"I do like that my mom can look at my numbers," says Blake, from San Carlos, Calif. "It keeps me sane. It helps keep her sane."

Built it and they didn't come.

That could be the motto for China's infamous "ghost cities" — vast housing complexes that were frantically erected over the past decade but remain largely uninhabited.

For years, the real estate market in China has been booming. Chinese laws allow city governments to cheaply grab nearby rural areas for development, and that's fueled the frenzy to build, build, build. Over the past 20 years, the country's urban areas have quintupled.

The Department of Justice announced it is bringing civil and criminal charges against some makers and marketers of dietary supplements. According to a statement, the DOJ alleges that the companies sold supplements that either contained unlisted ingredients or make health claims that are inadequately supported by scientific evidence.