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HEALTH

Credit card receipts pose cancer risk: new report

Checking the bill for the weekly shopping, or fingering through credit card receipts from the night before is never good for you, but a new French report is expected to warn that the print-outs actually pose a potentially serious health risk.

Credit card receipts pose cancer risk: new report
Photo: The Local

We’ve always known bills and receipts were bad for mental health, and most of us will have suffered mild heart palpitations at looking at the last night's ATM withdrawal slip and credit card receipts.

However, according to French radio RTL a study by a French sanitary safety agency is expected to report this week that these print-outs could pose a more serious risk to our physical health than to our state of mind.

Anses, France’s national agency for sanitary safety, looks set to declare that bisphenol, a chemical compound involved in the printing of supermarket receipts and ATM tickets, is an ‘endocrine disruptor' that can cause hormonal imbalances, which could then lead to cancer and birth defects.

Bisphenol is a compound involved in what's known as 'thermal printing', which avoids the use of ink.

According to the report certain professionals are more at risk than others.

The danger is worst for pregnant women who work in an environment – such as a supermarket or bank – where they handle bisphenol-laden print-outs hundreds of times every day.

Complications arising from contact with the chemical – which permeates the skin – can even extend to a higher risk of cancer or infertility in the child.

What’s worse, wearing rubber gloves makes no difference, according to a report on France’s RTL radio on Monday.

However, thankfully the report is expected  to conclude that most of us, who get a receipt or an ATM ticket a few times a week, will only be exposed to such a low level of bisphenol that we will not be at risk.

That’s not to say, however, that supermarket and credit card receipts won’t continue to cause headaches, nausea and heartburn for the foreseeable future.

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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