Foreskin reclaimers: the ‘intactivists’ fighting infant male circumcision

Emboldened by the body-positive movement and a sense of rage, a growing chorus is pushing back against a common custom

The media officer of one of the UK’s top medical schools doesn’t realise she hasn’t muted herself as she puts me on hold.

She sniggers with her colleague as she passes on my request – to speak to an expert on male circumcision – before informing me they don’t have one.

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Like a natural woman: why taboos about discussing the female body are dying

Periods, miscarriage and menopause were traditionally ‘private topics’. A raft of new books is changing that

When comedian Eleanor Thom first decided to write about her life with endometriosis, a long-term and often incredibly painful gynaecological condition, she did so because “I felt that this was the sort of thing I needed to read when I was a teenager.

“There’s a lot of medical stuff out there but it’s very much ‘this is what happens; these are the theories behind it’. They don’t tell you how to live with it day after day.”

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Lyme disease: is a solution on the way?

The tick-borne illness, which is on the rise, can have chronic side-effects. So why hasn’t more effort been put into a cure?

As a former martial arts world champion, who trained daily and enjoyed camping and hiking at weekends, Stephen Bullough had always prided himself on leading a healthy life.

Like most people, he thought very little when he was bitten by a tick on a camping holiday close to home in Wigan in 2014, never suspecting that this tiny bite would unleash an infection in his body that would one day leave him permanently incapacitated.

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Teach primary school children about FGM, say campaigners

National FGM Centre says issue can be taught in ‘child-centred, age-appropriate way’

Primary schools should start teaching pupils about female genital mutilation when a new relationships and health education curriculum is introduced next year, campaigners say.

Secondary school pupils will be taught about the dangers of FGM from 2020 but experts fear that for some vulnerable girls these lessons will come too late.

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Sharon Stone: I was forgotten like Princess Diana after I had a stroke

Actor says it took seven years to recover from illness that first struck in 2001, during which time the actor says she was treated with ‘brutal unkindness’ by Hollywood

Sharon Stone has accused Hollywood of being “brutally unkind” in its treatment of her as she struggled to recover from a stroke in 2001.

Stone made the comments to Variety magazine at an event to raise awareness for the Women’s Brain Health Initiative in Los Angeles, after explaining she had had a “massive stroke … a nine-day brain bleed”.

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NHS cancer scans left unread for weeks because of pension row

Hospitals cut services as consultants stop doing overtime to avoid huge tax bills

Cancer scans showing the presence or spread of the disease are going unread for as long as six weeks as the impact of the doctors’ pension dispute on patient care worsens.

Hospitals are increasingly having to reduce the services they can provide as thousands of consultants stop doing overtime in order to avoid being hit by unexpected tax bills of up to £80,000.

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‘Engagement and connection’: the key to reaching Scotland’s addicts

A cafe-style clinic in Midlothian is pioneering a new approach to treating drug users

Every Monday afternoon, a steady stream of drug users at various stages of treatment gravitate to a cafe-style clinic based at a charity centre in Midlothian.

Sitting around a table with their teas and coffees, their chat encompasses anything from childhood memories to last night’s telly. There is an ongoing debate about whether Lidl or Aldi make better pop chips. Dogs are welcome.

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Pardon the rant, but here’s why I love my Mooncup so much | Sophie Wilkinson

Menstrual cups are eco friendly, save money and now are officially just as reliable as tampons

If you’re a Guardian-reading woman of a certain age, it’s likely you’ll have been party to the evangelical Mooncup rant. In the Mooncup rant, one woman tells the other about a convex piece of medical-grade silicone that has saved her life. She uses it each time she gets her period, and spends the rest of her time talking about it. The cup has saved her thousands, is proof of her eco credentials and is now, essentially, the best thing ever.

I’m relatively new to menstrual cups, turning to them two years ago after an organic tampon company’s cardboard applicators injured my gentlest parts. And I’ve got the devotion of a convert, regularly proselytising about my Mooncup with all the spittle-flecked frenzy of a televangelist. A new study published by the Lancet this week has proved my claims. Researchers from the Medical Research Council, the Department for International Development and the Wellcome Trust found that menstrual cups were just as reliable as tampons.

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Why we’re tackling the Etape du Tour despite our breast cancer

Our conditions have forced us to temper our expectations, but my friend and I won’t let them stop us pursuing what we love

A breakaway is a cycling term that refers to an individual or a small group of cyclists who have successfully opened a gap ahead of the peloton, the main group of cyclists. On 21 July, two of us are plotting a breakaway from the disease that hangs over our daily lives by tackling one of the most challenging amateur cycling events.

The Etape du Tour, which has been running since 1993, is a chance for amateur cyclists to test their mettle on a stage of the Tour de France, riding on the same routes and under the same conditions as the professionals.

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‘Inadequate’ health response leaves 3.5bn with poor dental care

Scientists call for reform, sugar regulation and transparency around dental research

Scientists are calling for radical reform of dental care, tighter regulation of the sugar industry and greater transparency around conflict of interests in dental research to tackle the high and rising toll of oral disease such as mouth cancers.

In a challenge to the global health community, a series in the Lancet medical journal argues that 3.5 billion people suffering from oral disease have been let down.

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The Guardian view on Ebola in the DRC: help needed – and dialogue too | Editorial

The second largest outbreak of the disease has already sickened thousands. WHO’s declaration of an emergency of international concern should prompt more and better support

Are we able to learn the right lessons when disaster strikes? Five years ago, a devastating outbreak of Ebola in west Africa claimed more than 11,000 lives, and sparked an international panic as it reached the US and Europe. The experience led to the vaccine and experimental treatments now being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But this outbreak has become the second most deadly despite efforts to combat it over the last year. More than 1,600 people in the north-east of the country have died. Now, with the virus flaring up again in places where it had been contained, reaching the major city of Goma on the border with Rwanda, and spreading over 500km, with cases identified in Uganda, the World Health Organization has declared it an emergency of international concern.

This is a very different challenge from 2014’s. It is not only a public health but a humanitarian crisis, taking place in a conflict zone, with widespread malnutrition, a struggling health system, and deep suspicion hampering efforts to control the disease: this year has seen 174 attacks on health workers fighting the outbreak. The fear and distrust of outsiders has been compounded by Ebola’s high fatality rates. Vaccines cannot protect those who have already contracted the disease, and though people are more likely to survive with proper treatment, many delay because they do not trust those offering help: by the time they are finally seen, it is far harder to help them. Those around them may wrongly conclude that vaccines or health workers are the problem and not the cure. They see more international groups at work, and more deaths.

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We must learn from mental health tragedies | Letter

We are disturbed that in-depth investigations into patient homicides are no longer undertaken, writes Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane

While we welcome expanding research into suicides by mental health patients, we are disturbed that in-depth investigations into patient homicides are no longer undertaken (Cuts to study of killings by mental health patients ‘put people at risk’, 18 July). We understand the desire to separate mental illness from violence, but our own research suggests that of the approximately 120 homicides committed each year in the UK by someone with a mental illness or disorder, more than 50% were due to multiple failures in patient care. Among the common factors were poor or non-existent risk assessment, a lack of communication and, most unforgivably, failures to listen to the patient or heed the concerns of their families. Not learning lessons from these tragedies is like throwing away the black box after a plane crash. It is unfair not only to the innocent victims and their families, but also to patients, those who care for them and professionals charged with their care.
Marjorie Wallace
Chief executive, Sane

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Amputated leg image on tobacco warning ‘used without consent’

Amputee in France ‘betrayed’ by photograph of his disability found displayed on packets

A man living in France has lodged a complaint after claiming an image of his amputated leg was used as a health warning on tobacco packets through the EU without his permission.

The sixty-year old man, who lives in Metz, eastern France, was reported to be stunned after finding a picture of his amputated leg on a packet of rolling tobacco, alongside the message “smoking clogs your arteries”.

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