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US-HEALTH Summary

Sep 4, 2011, 4:08 p.m.

Nearly 40 pct of Europeans suffer mental illness

LONDON (Reuters) - Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study. With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden -- measured in the hundreds of billions of euros -- as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

Medical report says Chirac unfit to face trial

PARIS (Reuters) - A medical report submitted this week argues that former French president Jacques Chirac is mentally unfit to face trial, his lawyers said on Saturday, two days before he is due to face charges of misusing public funds. The report raises the possibility that Chirac, whose legal troubles have captivated France since he lost his presidential immunity in 2007, could avoid trial over charges that date back to his time as mayor of Paris in the early 1990s.

Space missions may damage eyes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Astronauts experience bone and muscle loss in the weightlessness of space, and now the first study of returning space travelers' eyes suggests that prolonged amounts of time in orbit can take a significant toll on vision, although the long-term effects aren't clear. The new study, of more than 300 astronauts in the U.S. space program, found that almost 50 percent of those who served on long missions -- six months or more -- reported experiencing new problems with their ability to see objects near to them while in space and for some time after returning to Earth. Roughly 23 percent of astronauts who spent shorter periods in orbit reported problems with their near vision during their missions and after getting home.

Ozone in smog damages health even at current level

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health experts lamented a move by U.S. President Barack Obama to halt rules on limiting smog pollution, saying the decision could endanger many people already susceptible to respiratory problems. Under pressure from businesses and Republican lawmakers, the Environmental Protection Agency had delayed issuing a rule on ozone limits several times. On Friday, Obama unexpectedly told the EPA to withdraw the clean-air initiative.

Listeria outbreak kills two in Colorado

DENVER (Reuters) - Two people in Colorado have died in the last month in a listeria outbreak following a puzzling surge in cases of gastrointestinal infection caused by the food-borne bacteria, state public health officials said. Alicia Cronquist, a state epidemiologist, said nine people in Colorado were hospitalized with the infection in August, including the two who died, with seven cases tallied in just the last week.

Obama backtracks on smog plan, bows to big business

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama put a stop on Friday to new rules that would limit smog pollution, unexpectedly reversing course on a key policy measure after businesses said it would kill jobs and cost them billions of dollars. Obama said the decision to withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard by the Environmental Protection Agency was part of an effort to reduce regulatory burdens for business.

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