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Doctors call for guidelines on diagnosing death, Tamoxifen 'should be taken for 10 years', and 'ladies who lunch' more likely to have alcohol problems

A round-up of the health news on Monday 3 June.

Doctors have called for an international agreement on when and how death is diagnosed, the BBC reports.

Guidelines are needed to prevent the rare occasion when people are pronounced dead but later found to be alive, doctors at the European Society for Anaesthesiology will say.

Dr Alex Manara, a consultant anaesthetist at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, will say there have been more than 30 reports in medical literature describing people who had been determined dead but later found to be alive, which shows the diagnosis of death could be improved.

He will call for internationally agreed guidelines to ensure doctors observe the body for five minutes, in order not to miss anyone whose heart and lungs spontaneously recover.

The Guardian reports that breast cancer is less likely to recur if women previously treated for the disease take the drug tamoxifen for 10 years, instead of the recommended five.

Researchers estimated that 10 years of tamoxifen reduces breast cancer rates by a third in the first 10 years and by half after that, compared with taking no tamoxifen.

The research was carried out in a British study, which was a component of a larger international trial for which similar results were announced last year.

‘Until now, there have been doubts whether continuing tamoxifen beyond five years is worthwhile,’ lead author Richard Gray, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford said.

Rich ‘ladies who lunch’ living in exclusive areas are more likely to suffer from mental illness including depression and alcohol problems compared with those living in more modest areas, the Telegraph reports.

An analysis of health and habits broken down by postcode found that almost two-thirds of women living in areas such as Esher in Surrey, Merchiston in Edinburgh and Knighstbridge in London, drink more than the recommended limit of three units of alcohol a day; more than any other social type.

Around 6.5% of men and women in these areas also suffer from anxiety, compared with a national average of 2.9%.

The only other groups with a higher likelihood of mental illness or depression are elderly people in social housing, those living in highrise flats, and young people renting.

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