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Latest stories, news and breaking health and medical news from across the world

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What the European election means for health care

The European Parliament election is sure to shake up health care issues as newly elected MEPs jockey for positions following the departure of some key members. While some familiar faces are sticking around, theres a notable vacuum when it comes to one of the most controversial files that will carry over to the next Parliament — health technology assessment legislation — as many of the rapporteurs are now gone. An influx of Green party candidates will likely ramp up pressure on industry, including pharmaceutical and chemicals manufacturers, and also ensure stronger ties between environmental and health issues. MEPs will elect a new Parliament president and confirm the committees at the first plenary sitting scheduled to begin July 2. The committees will hold their first meetings in July, when theyll elect their chairs and vice-chairs. Romanian European Peoples Party MEP Adina-Ioana Vălean, the most recent chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI), is r..

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Ultra-processed food linked to early death

Ultra-processed foods – such as chicken nuggets, ice cream and breakfast cereals – have been linked to early death and poor health, scientists say. Researchers in France and Spain say the amount of such food being eaten has soared. Their studies are not definite proof of harm but do come hot on the heels of trials suggesting ultra-processed foods lead to overeating. Experts expressed caution but called for further investigation. What are ultra-processed foods? The term comes from a way of classifying food by how much industrial processing it has been through. The lowest category is "unprocessed or minimally processed foods", which include: • fruit • vegetables • milk • meat • legumes such as lentils • seeds • grains such as rice • eggs "Processed foods" have been altered to make them last longer or taste better – generally using salt, oil, sugar or fermentation. This category includes: • cheese • bacon • home-made bread • tinned fruit and vegetables • smoked fish • beer Then ..

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Psychiatrists call for warnings over antidepressant withdrawal

Patients suffering severe symptoms when they come off antidepressants too quickly need more help and support, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says. Current guidance suggests that most people should be able to withdraw from the drugs over four weeks. But psychiatrists say some patients taking the pills long-term can experience serious side effects that can last much longer. National clinical guidelines are currently being updated. Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said she wanted to see the guidelines "more in keeping with what we're hearing from some patients – and GPs – about the range of experiences of coming off antidepressants". The number of prescriptions for antidepressants in the UK nearly doubled between 2007 and 2017, from around 40 million to more than 82 million, a report by the College shows. At the same time, data shows an increase in depression among adults and children. A normal course of antidepressants should last at least six..

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UK Conservatives jostle for top job after Mays resignation

The field is getting crowded in the race to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May as head of the Conservative Party, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock becoming the fifth politician to announce he will compete for the post. “Im going to run to be the next prime minister, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that we need a leader for the future, not just for now,” Hancock told BBC4s Today program on Saturday. “Of course weve got to deliver Brexit, and I will, but we need to win the argument for free enterprise and a free society, and do all the other things that we need to do to make this country a great place to live,” he said, adding that “a no-deal Brexit is not an active policy thats available to the next prime minister, whoever they are.” May announced Friday she will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a rapid-fire battle to replace her as Tory leader and prime minister before Britains scheduled departure from the EU on October 31. Hancock j..

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Abortion debate goes mainstream in Malta

MSIDA, Malta — The controversial debate on Maltas stringent abortion laws has shifted from Facebook forums to the highest levels of politics just in time for the European election. In the weeks leading up to Saturdays ballot, the opposition Nationalist Party took out billboard adverts across the island championing the partys anti-abortion message. Its leader Adrian Delia called the European election a “referendum on abortion” — accusing the ruling Labour Party of secretly supporting greater abortion rights. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was pressed to respond, and said the government doesnt have a mandate to change abortion laws. Ninety-five percent of Maltese do not agree with abortion in the first 12 weeks of gestation (a health service available nearly everywhere else in Europe), according to the most recent polls. In a country with one of the highest number of social media users and some of the strictest abortion laws in the EU, abortion has always been a hot topic on Facebook fo..

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Ward closures among UK hospital contingency plans for no-deal Brexit

LONDON — A no-deal Brexit will severely impact hospital services and could even prompt ward closures and interruptions to childrens services, according to planning documents seen by POLITICO. Detailed preparations from 35 hospitals in England describe serious disruptions to the provision of health care services for patients in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU. One hospital said that a loss of EU staff could lead to the suspension of services, while another warned it may be unable to process diagnostic tests for Parkinsons disease because of missing medical supplies. The internal documents, released under Freedom of Information rules in response to a request from pro-Remain organization Best for Britain, include risk assessments and contingency plans formulated by hospitals since the Brexit referendum, as well as correspondence with NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Exiting the European Union. Opposition Labour MP Paul Williams descri..

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Where microplastics come from …

Look almost anywhere — in your food, in your water, in your body — and youre likely to find microplastics. These tiny particles, ranging in size from microscopic to 5 millimeters long, are infused in cosmetics and fertilizers. Theyre released unintentionally when we wash clothes made from polyester and nylon, or when the rubber hits the road as were driving. And they are produced when plastic products like bottles or packaging break down into smaller and smaller pieces. POLITICO presents plastics by the numbers. Microplastics have been found in the air, in animals, in food and beverages and in human feces. Drinking water: A 2017 study by Orb Media tested tap water samples from more than a dozen countries on five continents, and found microplastics in 83 percent. For bottled water, stats were even worse: 93 percent of samples contained some microplastics. Beer: Researchers found plastic fibers in German and American beer. In a U.S. study last year, an average of four particles were ..

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Training Britains doctors — in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — Brexit uncertainty isnt stopping the U.K.s National Health Service from hiring doctors from beyond its borders — including from the EU. Enter firms like Paragona, which calls itself “the leading global provider of international solutions to staff shortage problems for the healthcare sector.” The Polish company won a contract with the NHS a few weeks agoas part of the health services “international GP recruitment program,” and is training its first batch of 100 EU doctors to practice in England. The general practitioners, who come from Spain, Lithuania, Greece and Poland, are enrolled at a campus in the small town of Piaseczno, 20 kilometers south of Warsaw. “We provide EU GPs with a 12-20 week residential course in Poland and when in the U.K., the doctors undergo additional training under the supervision of a mentor,” Paragona Board Chairman Adam Ringer said. The training is intensive, with five-day, 40 hour-per-week courses that include simulated surgeries, langua..

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Plastics that save us may also hurt us

Hiding in plain sight, in every hospital in the world, is a product that embodies both the extraordinary benefits and the unsettling risks that plastics can pose to human health. This product is the blood bag. Introduced in 1950, as the United States was about to enter the Korean War, the plastic blood bag was a life-saving solution to a medical problem. Doctors had been collecting blood and performing transfusions since World War I, but the process was just beginning to be scaled up. The glass bottles used to hold blood were far from ideal. Not only did they break easily; they were hard to keep sterile, and air bubbles trapped in the rigid containers could complicate transfusions. The new bags, invented by two American scientists, had a host of advantages: They were lightweight, cheap, couldnt shatter and took up about half the space in a refrigerator as a bottle holding the same amount of blood. They could also be easily made and kept sterile and thrown away after a single use. L..

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Lithuanians are pissed

VILNIUS — Europes biggest drinkers have found plenty of ways around their countrys restrictive alcohol laws. In Lithuania, underage 19-year-olds get their friends to buy them beer at the bar. Neighbors bring back cheaper vodka from across the border in Belarus, and octogenarians sell illegal homemade whiskey called “samogon” from their homes. For those in pursuit of a drink, the governments restrictive laws implemented in 2017 to increase the drinking age to 20, cut selling hours and raise excise taxes are largely a nuisance. But for the ruling Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), and the partys Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, who has become the public face of the reforms, its a gamble that unpopular policies designed to combat a major public health problem will eventually pay off. The perception, especially among younger voters, that Veryga and his center-right party are out-of-date and authoritarian will be tested this month when Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis stands for the par..

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