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Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent

Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

This is my take on the medical and health issues of the day, especially those involving research and ethics

Analysis: Assisted dying debate

Nurse and patient holding hands

There is a profound gulf between those who see assisted dying as a fundamental human right for the terminally ill and those who fear that right could easily turn into a duty for the disabled and vulnerable.

It was the case of the late Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome and wanted doctors to help him die, which proved a powerful talisman for the pro-lobby.

The Supreme Court rejected that argument last month, but invited Parliament to reconsider the law on assisted suicide as it could be incompatible with human rights legislation.

It is ironic that Mr Nicklinson would not have been eligible for help under the Assisted Dying Bill as he was not terminally ill and lacked the ability to self-administer a lethal dose.

Profound change

The assisted dying bill would allow adults of sound mind, with six months to live, the right to end their life at a time of their choosing.

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Tanni Grey-Thompson: Assisted dying 'a dangerous path'

Paralympic multi-gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, has spoken out against the legalisation of assisted dying.

She warned that a bill proposed by former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer does not have "adequate safeguards".

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Stephen Hawking: Why I support Assisted Dying

Cambridge scientist Stephen Hawking is backing the Assisted Dying Bill which is being debated by peers on Friday.

The 72-year-old cosmologist said it was "discrimination against the disabled to deny them the right to kill themselves that able bodied people have."

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Antibiotic resistance: Cameron warns of medical 'dark ages'

The world could soon be "cast back into the dark ages of medicine" unless action is taken to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

He has announced a review into why so few anti-microbial drugs have been introduced in recent years.

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How can I cut down on sugar?

Let me confess. I love sugar.

I don't have it in tea or coffee, but I'm partial to biscuits, cakes, sweets and fruit juice, which are packed with the stuff.

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'World's smallest' pacemaker

This new technology has several potential advantages.

Most important is the absence of a wire or lead which carries the electrical impulse from conventional pacemakers to the heart. These wires can come under immense pressure and can be a source of complications.

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Skin cancer trial results 'exciting'

scan of lungs
The image on the left shows melanoma which has spread into the lungs - the large grey area are tumours. On the right, the tumours have shrunk after treatment.

The results of two international trials against advanced skin cancer have been hailed as "exciting and striking".

Both treatments, for advanced melanoma, are designed to enable the immune system to recognise and target tumours.

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Does endurance cycling help you live longer?

Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson on Cragg Vale in Yorkshire, reputed to be the longest continuous gradient in England

Does endurance cycling help you live longer? Take one look at cycling legend Brian Robinson, and you may have your answer.

Brian, aged 83, is a bona fide British cycling legend: the first Briton to finish the Tour de France in 1956 and the first to win a Tour stage in 1958.

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Chronotherapy: The science of timing drugs to our Body Clock

Being in tune with your natural Body Clock is about a lot more than knowing whether your are a "lark" or an "owl".

As the BBC's Day of the Body Clock has shown, it can also have a profound effect on our health.

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About Fergus

Fergus began working for the BBC in 1984 and has reported on health, science and medicine for nearly 20 years.

He has reported for the BBC from around the world on topics such as stem cells, obesity, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, polio and swine flu.

Fergus has had his genes sequenced, his heart, brain and other body parts scanned, as well as being vaccinated against bird flu for his reports.

He appeared in a BBC TV drama with Julie Walters. He didn't win any awards for his acting, but has won several for his journalism.

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