Blood, spit and swabs: can you trust home medical-testing kits?

Is posting off your bodily fluids to a DIY health-testing company the future of healthcare or just too much information?

On a dark February morning, I wake grainy with sleep and head to the kitchen. Before making toast or coffee, I unscrew the cap from a tiny test tube and spit into it. Over and over, but it’s surprisingly difficult to fill up a whole vial. It takes 10 minutes before my frothy deposit reaches the marked minimum line.

My housemate sips her coffee. “Are you ill?” she asks.

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Build a wall across the Sahara? That’s crazy – but someone still did it

Since Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 it has built a 2,700km desert barrier keeping independence-seeking Sahrawis out of the resource-rich west

Donald Trump was widely ridiculed earlier this week for suggesting that Spain emulate his $25bn dream for the US-Mexico border and “build a wall” across the Sahara desert.

Related: Donald Trump urged Spain to 'build the wall' – across the Sahara

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‘Instead of a scar, I had a piece of art’: women on their post-mastectomy tattoos

Seven women tell Gem Fletcher why getting inked after breast cancer made them feel whole again

I found a hardening in my breast in 2005, and although my GP wasn’t concerned, he sent me to get it checked out. It was a total shock when I found out I had stage 2 breast cancer. I went for the mastectomy, because I thought it gave me a better chance; and I had a reconstruction because I thought it would be less traumatic to wake up with two breasts.

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‘I had cancer – but my insurer tried to wriggle out of paying’

Sheila Hastings took out critical illness cover, but faced a fight over her £280,000 claim

When Sheila Hastings* heard just days after her daughter’s wedding that she had an “aggressive” form of kidney cancer and major surgery was inevitable, she was comforted that at least she had a “critical illness” insurance policy taken out with Zurich eight years earlier.

These policies are supposed to pay out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness such as cancer or heart disease. Typically, they cost about £100 a month for each £100,000 of cover if taken out by someone in their late 40s or early 50s. In Sheila Hastings’ case, her policy would pay out £279,224 on diagnosis.

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Invisible killer: how one girl’s tragic death could change the air pollution story

In a far-reaching human rights case, Ella Kissi-Debrah could become the first person to have toxic air given as their cause of death – and finally make this silent killer visible

From a tiny office on the top floor of the old town hall in Catford, south-east London, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah is leading a campaign to push air pollution on to the political agenda as never before. It has been claimed for years that pollution caused by motor vehicles, especially diesel cars, buses and lorries, is a killer, with talk of tens of thousands of premature deaths. But the number was always abstract, the identities of the dead unknown. Now, for the first time, campaigners have the name of a young victim they say died as a direct result of air pollution: Ella Roberta Kissi-Debrah, Rosamund’s daughter, and if they can prove it they believe an invisible killer will become all too real.

Ella, who suffered from severe asthma, died in 2013 at the age of nine. She had been suffering asthma-related seizures like the one which killed her for three years. Kissi-Debrah says her daughter, who grew up and went to school close to the busy South Circular Road in Lewisham, had cough syncope – a condition usually associated with long-distance lorry drivers who’d been driving for decades. “I couldn’t work out why a nine-year-old child should have that,” she tells me.

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Diplomats gather for UN summit – with Trump and his whims to take centre stage

World leaders have spent a year trying to manage their relations the US president – but that doesn’t mean they can predict what he’ll say

The official theme of this year’s UN general assembly is “making the United Nations relevant to all people” but everyone attending next week’s sprawling summit in New York knows that one person is more relevant than others.

Donald Trump is expected to dominate proceedings.

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John McDonnell: Labour wants to push ahead with Brexit

On eve of conference, shadow chancellor defies calls for party to promise second referendum

Labour would fight a snap general election vowing to press ahead with Brexit, but secure better terms, John McDonnell has said, defying demands among party members for a referendum pledge to form part of any manifesto.

The standoff between Theresa May and the EU27 leaders in Salzburg, and the apparent lack of a parliamentary majority for her Brexit plans, have raised the spectre of an early general election.

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‘Mental illness swam in my genes’: why I was born to be a psychiatrist

Edward Hallowell was conceived only because his father tried to kill his mother. His work helps make sense of his ‘crazy family’

Edward Hallowell was conceived thanks to an administrative error and his father’s plan to kill his mother. On the day in question, Hallowell’s father, Ben, hospitalised with schizophrenia (later identified correctly as bipolar disorder), was mistakenly allowed out on leave, and his intention – in the depths of a psychotic rage – had been to kill his wife, Dorothy. She persuaded him to change course, resulting in the conception of Edward. Ben was later collected, naked and shooting crows in a snowy cornfield, by the police.

And this is why today, after nearly 40 years as a psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell knows exactly why he chose his profession. “Because I come from a crazy family,” he says. It’s the same answer he gave when the question was posed at his first job interview (it was not among the list of expected answers).

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Kavanaugh sexual assault accusation has both parties ‘on a knife’s edge’

Testimony from Christine Blasey Ford could shape public perception and political fallout

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US supreme court was meant to be a crowning achievement for Donald Trump and Republicans, as they prepare to defend their congressional majority in what is expected to be a challenging midterm election in November.

Related: Trump demands Kavanaugh vote after lashing out at accuser

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Kavanaugh accuser given more time to decide if she will testify

Senate judiciary committee chair Chuck Grassley extends deadline for Christine Blasey Ford on whether to give evidence

The US Senate judiciary committee chair, Chuck Grassley, has granted a deadline extension to the woman accusing supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to decide if and how she will testify. ​

The committee had delayed a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation after California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations emerged last week, and her lawyers and committee staff were negotiating the conditions of her testimony.

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