Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. to begin testing sick, dead pigs for fatal hog virus ravaging China

The U.S. Department of Agriculture within weeks will begin testing sick and dead pigs for a hog virus that has killed herds across Asia in an effort to minimize devastation if the disease enters the United States, the agency said on Thursday. Increased testing aims to help U.S. officials detect cases of African swine fever quickly so they can contain the disease.

Missouri Senate passes bill to ban abortions after eight weeks

Missouri’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill early on Thursday that would ban abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. The vote came a day after Alabama’s governor signed into law a ban on abortions at any time absent a medical emergency.

Charcoal toothpaste may do harm and not much good

Charcoal toothpaste may be having a moment as a go-to brightening and whitening tool, but some dentists say these products might actually damage tooth enamel and make cavities more likely. At a minimum, any claims charcoal toothpaste marketers make have no scientific evidence behind them, the authors of a paper in the British Dental Journal warn.

Opioids crisis has spread beyond United States: OECD

Opioid use has reached crisis proportions not only in the United States but also in Canada and some European countries, as prescription opioid painkillers have become much more common, the OECD club of wealthy nations said on Thursday. So far the opioid epidemic has focused largely on the United States, where the OECD said nearly 400,000 people died of overdoses between 1999 and 2017, resulting in the lowering of overall life expectancy for the first in more than 60 years.

Republican Alabama governor mulling nation’s strictest abortion law

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday was mulling whether to sign the United States’ strictest abortion law, part of a multistate effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider women’s constitutional right to abortion. The state’s Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions, including in the cases of pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest, allowing exceptions only to protect the mother’s health.

Bullied kids more likely to use painkillers

Children and teens who are bullied are more than twice as likely as peers who are not victimized to take painkillers, a study of school kids in Iceland suggests. “We found a high frequency of pain medication use among both non-bullied and bullied students,” said lead study author Pernilla Garmy of Kristianstad University in Sweden.

Bayer confident of appeals of glyphosate weed killer court defeats: executive

Bayer AG is confident its appeals of recent court rulings that its glyphosate weed killer Roundup caused cancer will be successful, a senior executive said on Thursday, amid a steep selloff of the company’s shares this week. Liam Condon, president of Bayer’s crop science division, said the appeals of jury rulings against the chemical will be heard by judges, a factor he sees as favorable to Bayer’s chances.

Ultra-processed foods lead to higher calorie consumption and weight gain

People who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods – such as frozen entrees, white bread and canned side dishes – tend to consume more calories than those who eat foods that aren’t processed, a new study suggests. Government researchers found that people ate about 500 calories more when offered meals that contained ultra-processed items, according to the results in Cell Metabolism.

Factbox: Alabama abortion ban triggers Twitter reaction storm

Celebrities, activists and politicians swarmed social media to air their opinions on a new law, signed on Wednesday, that almost totally bans abortion in Alabama. Singer Lady Gaga led the chorus of outraged voices with many women tweeting under the hashtag #YouKnowMe to declare they had abortions and were unashamed.

Five more U.S. states sue OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

Five U.S. states on Thursday filed lawsuits accusing Purdue Pharma LP of illegally marketing and selling opioids, escalating the wave of litigation over a nationwide abuse epidemic. Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined 39 states to file lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharma and its leaders, including former president Richard Sackler and his family.

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