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Research suggests swapping cartoons for choral singing

Our round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 12 September.

The Daily Mail reports University of Virginia research which finds that watching fast-paced cartoons harms toddlers' ability to concentrate and solve logic-based puzzles, as well as undermining their short-term memory.

In contrast the Royal Society for Public Health conference in London has heard that singing in a choir can help with a variety of health problems ranging from depression to respiratory disease, the Telegraph says

The same paper says that instead of choral singing, GPs are prescribing more anti-depressants in response to ‘subtle advertising'. The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology says that family doctors now write three times more prescriptions for antidepressants than in the 1970s. It claims that this increase mainly reflects the success of drug companies in redefining psychological and other conditions in such a way as to encourage doctors to treat those conditions with pills.

Maeanwhile the Telegraph's GP columnist Dr Max Pemberton laments the passing of the NHS following the Commons vote on the Health and Social Care Bill.

‘Without doubt, this signals the end of the NHS as we know it,' he writes. 'I felt depressed and betrayed. I have no particular affiliation to any political party or ideological tie to the NHS. I defend the NHS because the evidence shows that it is the best system to deliver healthcare.'

Questions are also raised in the Telegraph about the effectiveness of the Government's flagship public health measure of fast-food outlets publishing calorific content of products. Restaurant diners at Harvester, which introduced the system six months ago, cut their energy consumption by just 2% after full calorie details were printed on the menu.

In more positive news the Guardian tell us that cancer researchers have developed a ‘smart bomb' treatment that can target tumours with drugs while leaving healthy body cells intact. The technique means that patients will suffer fewer side-effects from the toxic drugs used in chemotherapy.

Finally the Mail reports that women who take the contraceptive pill are finding it interferes with the way they remember information, according to a study from the University of California.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know, and we'll update digest throughout the day...

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