Is salt bad for you? Let’s feed prisoners low-salt food and see

A group of medical researchers has proposed a clinical trial in American prisons to test whether too much salt is bad for you. In an editorial in the journal Hypertension the researchers argue that major professional associations believe that a randomized clinical trial in a controlled environment is needed to settle the matter once and for all.  

The “controlled environment” is very difficult to create for “free-living” people, the editorial says, because most people eat processed food at home at dine out at restaurants. The idea of asking participants to eat only prepared meals containing set amounts of… MORE

Guernsey rejects assisted suicide

A back door to assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United Kingdom has been closed. After a three-day debate, the Parliament of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency in the English Channel, has voted 24-14 to reject an Oregon-style bill for assisted suicide.

The proposal was a private member’s bill proposed by Guernsey’s chief minister, Gavin St Pier. He released a statement expressing his regret that the measure had not passed:

"We believe that a majority of the population do support a change in the law. However, we live in a representative democracy and our parliamentary assembly, the… MORE

US states could use nitrogen to execute prisoners

Underground methods of illegal assisted suicide could be used as a model for capital punishment in the United States. The New York Times reports that states are looking for alternative methods of executing prisoners after some of them suffered greatly during lethal injections.

One solution is inhaling nitrogen, a method promoted by groups like the Final Exit Network in the US and Exit International in Australia. Nitrogen is not poisonous in itself, but in the absence of oxygen, a person will suffocate painlessly.

Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi allow nitrogen to be used for executions. Although there has been… MORE

Nuffield Council releases study of AI in healthcare

AI in healthcare is developing rapidly, with many applications currently in use or in development in the UK and worldwide. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines the current and potential applications of AI in healthcare, and the ethical issues arising from its use, in a new briefing note, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research.

There is much hope and excitement surrounding the use of AI in healthcare. It has the potential to make healthcare more efficient and patient-friendly; speed up and reduce errors in diagnosis; help patients manage symptoms or cope with chronic illness; and help avoid human… MORE

California judge overturns assisted suicide

A California judge has sparked uproar after ruling that the state’s assisted suicide law was unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, Judge Daniel A. Ottolia of the Riverside County Superior Court ruled that the 2015 End of Life Option Act was passed in an unconstitutional manner, and gave the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra five days to file an appeal before the law was invalidated.

Importantly, Judge Ottolia’s decision did not pertain to the content of the Act, but rather to the manner in which was enacted.

Ottolia said that the summer… MORE

Vote narrows as Ireland’s abortion referendum approaches

Tensions are rising as Ireland’s 25th of May abortion referendum approaches, with polls indicating a narrowing gap between the “repeal” and “retain” vote.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll earlier this week found that out of 1200 respondents interviewed face to face across the country, 44 per cent of said they would be voting Yes (down 3 points in three weeks), 32 per cent said No (up 4 points) and 24 per cent said they were either not sure or not voting. When one excludes those who are unsure and those who are not voting,… MORE

What should a doctor do when a loved one is ill?

The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics strongly cautions doctors against treating themselves or family members. It outlines a series of reasons why doctors can lose their objectivity and professionalism when treating immediate family, and also enumerates reasons why patients can find it difficult to have a relative as a doctor.

But what about situations where a doctor is the primary caregiver for a patient? Or what about situations where a doctor feels uncomfortable when they hear about the way in which a relative is being treated.

A new edition of… MORE

New documentary tells personal story of VSED


A new American documentary, Tomorrow Never Knows, tells the story of a transgender person with early onset Alzheimer's who decided to end his life through “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” (VSED).

64-year-old Shar (Tim) Jones died on the 1st September 2016 in his home in Denver, Colorado, after consciously refusing nutrition and hydration. Jones had early onset Alzheimer’s, though he was not suffering from a terminal illness. He chose VSED because he couldn’t stand the thought of cognitive decline: “Alzheimer's destroys your being”, he… MORE

American Medical Association stands firm on assisted suicide

“Death with dignity” or “aid in dying” seem to be gathering pace in the United States, now that Hawaii has joined the list of states which permit it. But how does the American Medical Association stand?

According to a recent decision by its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, squarely against it.

The AMA has been under pressure to modify its stand. The American 
Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 
has adopted a position of “studied neutrality”. Physicians from Oregon are lobbying within the AMA for neutrality, if not outright endorsement.

The CEJA studied the growing literature on “death with… MORE

CIA nominee refuses to call torture ‘immoral’

Should Americans brace themselves for more reports of torture in the war on terror? This is what opponents of Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee as head of the CIA, fear. Physicians for Human Rights issued a stinging press release:

“Torture is illegal, immoral, and profoundly harmful, not only for its victims but for all institutions involved. Promoting Haspel to CIA director would cement impunity for torture and weaken the United States’ longstanding commitment against this crime. To uphold the progress that Congress has made to put this dark chapter to rest, the Senate must now follow through… MORE

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