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Health Highlights: June 3, 2014

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

U.S. Physicians Inch to the Political Left

A new study suggests that American doctors, once largely Republican, have shifted their sympathies more toward the political left in recent years.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at physician contributions to political parties and found doctors now evenly split between Republican and Democrats.

"We've got to stop thinking of physicians as a group as 'solidly Republican.' They are polarized, almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats," study co-author David Rothman, a social medicine professor at Columbia University's medical school, told the Associated Press.

According to the study authors, possible reasons for the change in allegiance include a rise in the number of women doctors (who more often donate to Democrats), and the decline of physicians who work on their own or in small practices.

The study found that allegiance to a political party shifted according to the specialty involved -- surgeons, largely male, tended to donate to the GOP, while a female-dominated specialty such as pediatrics favored Democrats.

The American Medical Association (AMA), once firmly in the Republican camp, has also waned in its influence over doctors, the AP said. Only a third of U.S. physicians are now AMA members, the news agency said, and the group has also undergone a shift in its own politics, becoming an active supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

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