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Health Highlights: Feb. 9, 2015

NFL Appoints First Chief Medical Adviser Canada's Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

NFL Appoints First Chief Medical Adviser

The president of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has been named the National Football League's first chief medical and health adviser.

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, a cardiologist, said she plans to remain at the hospital and as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She has been the hospital's president since 2010, Bloomberg News reported.

"As a lifelong football fan, I look forward to working with the NFL in this advisory capacity to create the safest possible environment for NFL players," Nabel said.

"My first order of business is to review the medical, health and scientific priorities that the NFL currently has in place, as well as assess the medical protocols and ongoing scientific research collaborations," she added, Bloomberg reported.

During his Jan. 30 state of the league address, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall said the league would create the position of chief medical officer as part of its efforts to improve player safety.

There is growing awareness and concern about the long-term risk that head injuries pose to NFL players.

"The game is safer than it has ever been, but not as safe as it will be with advisers like Dr. Nabel providing expertise," Goodell said in a statement, Bloomberg reported.


Canada's Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Doctor-Assisted Suicide

A ban on doctor-assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses has been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In its unanimous decision Friday, the court said that how mentally competent patients choose to deal with their impending death "is critical to their dignity and autonomy," NBC News reported.

The court gave the Canadian government a year to draft new legislation that recognizes the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable suffering to obtain a doctor's help to end their lives. Until there is a new law, the current ban on doctor-assisted suicide remains in place.

Assisted suicide is legal in the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana. It is also legal in Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Colombia and Japan. In Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, doctors can euthanize patients who have hopeless medical conditions and are in great pain, NBC News reported.

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