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2008 Crisis Spurred Rise in Suicides in Europe

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

Researchers looked at mortality data provided by 10 European Union countries.

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UNHCR Says Many Dying en Route While Fleeing Somalia Drought

Many people are dying of hunger while fleeing serious drought in Somalia, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday, warning that aid efforts could be overwhelmed by large numbers of malnourished refugees.

"Many people are dying en route from what we hear," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

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It's Not Too Late for Pregnant Smokers to Butt Out

Women who quit smoking once they find out they are pregnant can give birth to a baby weighing the same as a child born to a non-smoker, a British expert told a European fertility meeting Wednesday.

"Once you find you're pregnant, it’s not too late to do something about your smoking," Nick Macklon, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southampton, told Agence France Presse.

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Ovulating? Urine Test More Precise Than Calendar

Women trying to conceive are better served by a urine test to determine if they are ovulating than the more commonly used calendar method, the makers of the test said at a Stockholm conference Tuesday.

"The calendar method is good to help women to start to understand how their cycle works, but if women are really trying to conceive ... it's not really the best method to use," said Jayne Ellis, head of scientific and medical affairs at SPD Swiss Precision Diagnostics, which makes the Clearblue ovulation test.

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New Study Links Heart Risks to Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix

A study found Monday that Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix poses significant cardiovascular risks, a claim the pharmaceutical giant immediately denied while defending the drug's benefits.

According to the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the drug varenicline (brand name Chantix) is linked to a 72 percent greater risk of hospitalization due to a serious adverse cardiovascular event like a heart attack or arrhythmia.

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Egyptian Fenugreek Seed Suspected in France, Germany E. coli

The European Food Safety Agency on Tuesday identified a batch of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt as the likely suspect in the outbreaks of E. coli disease in both Germany and France.

An EFSA task force set up to track the possible source of the disease said it recommended in consequence that "all efforts be made to prevent any consumer exposure to the suspect seeds".

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Study Shows Couch Potatoes Double Risk of Lung Blood Clots

Lying around for long stretches outside of work doubles the risk of dangerous blood clots in the lungs, according to a study among women released Tuesday.

The study looked at the risk of pulmonary embolism -- blood clots in the lungs that typically arise from a vein constriction in the legs -- among 69,950 female nurses over an 18-year period.

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Overweight Men Have Poorer Sperm Count

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

In what they described as the largest study of its kind, doctors looked at sperm samples from 1,940 men and matched them to the donor's weight.

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Fraternal Twins with Autism: Is Risk in The Womb?

Most of the risk of autism has been blamed by experts on inherited genes. Now one of the largest studies of twins and autism shifts the focus to the womb, suggesting that the mother's age and health may play a larger role than thought.

The new research doesn't solve the mystery of what causes autism. Most scientists think faulty genes and outside factors are both at work. And since autism spectrum disorders include a wide range of conditions, from mild to severe, it's unlikely there's a single cause for all of them.

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Egyptian Seeds May Have Caused E. Coli Outbreak

Fenugreek seeds exported from Egypt to France and Germany may have caused an E. coli outbreak that has killed 48 people in Europe, the European Food Safety Authority said Wednesday.

A "rapid risk assessment" conducted by the EFSA and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), "has thus far shown" that Egyptian seeds exported in 2009 and 2010 may be implicated, it said in a statement.

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