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Brainstorm Health: Black Lung on the Rise, Digital Contraception, America’s ‘Healthiest’ Communities

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

Environmental and workplace factors play a significant role in human health, as evidenced by the myriad studies establishing poor air quality, low access to nutrition, and other similar circumstances as important risk factors for earlier death and disease. And while global public health strategies like clean air policies and environmental regulations have helped mitigate the harms, certain workplace conditions may still present a big problem, as highlighted by a new report in West Virginia’s Register-Herald.

As my colleague Andrew Nusca reports, the Register-Herald says that local health centers in the state—which is a mainstay of the mining industry—have seen a swell in “black lung” (aka Pneumoconiosis) cases. It’s unclear exactly why this condition, associated heavily with poor air quality conditions in mines, is on the rise. But the numbers are striking, raising concerns about potential worker safety in the community—and questions about the cause of the reported black lung resurgence.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

A digital solution to ‘contraception deserts’? NPR reports that women in so-called contraception deserts—places where it’s hard to get into a clinic or a doctor’s office, particularly in states that have cracked down on family planning centers—are turning to digital services for their medical needs. That includes companies like NURX, Maven, and Lemonaid Health, which offer hormonal contraceptives through apps that can deliver the products to their pharmacies and doorsteps. (NPR)

INDICATIONS

Roche adds to impressive lung cancer data. Roche was a bit behind rivals like Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb in the new-wave cancer immunotherapy space of “checkpoint inhibitors”. But its marquee treatment in this lucrative new space, called Tecentriq, scored a new clinical trial win Monday when Roche announced the drug’s combination with another cancer therapy helped lung cancer patients live longer. (Reuters)

THE BIG PICTURE

What are America’s ‘healthiest’ communities? U.S. News & World Report is out with a new ranking of America’s “healthiest” communities (a list compiled in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation). According to the list’s methodology, the healthiest county in the U.S. is… Falls Church, Virginia. (The list “scores nearly 3,000 communities across 80 metrics that extend beyond health coverage and doctors’ visits to social determinants like income, housing and public safety, aiming to determine how location and circumstances affect the overall health of Americans across the country,” as U.S. News explains). Check out the full list here. (U.S. News & World Report)

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Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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