Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
DNA pioneer James Watson takes aim at "cancer establishments"
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A day after an exhaustive national report on cancer found the United States is making only slow progress against the disease, one of the country's most iconic - and iconoclastic - scientists weighed in on "the war against cancer." And he does not like what he sees. James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, lit into targets large and small. On government officials who oversee cancer research, he wrote in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Open Biology, "We now have no general of influence, much less power ... leading our country's War on Cancer."
New strain of norovirus spreads around the world
LONDON (Reuters) - A new strain of the winter vomiting disease norovirus has spread to France, New Zealand and Japan from Australia and is overtaking all others to become the dominant strain in Britain, health officials said on Wednesday. The norovirus variant, known as Sydney 2012, was identified in a scientific paper last week and Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said genetic testing showed it was now causing more cases in England and Wales than other strains.
New boss of meningitis-linked firm is poor choice: U.S. official
BOSTON (Reuters) - The person hired to run the bankrupt pharmacy linked to a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak is "hopelessly conflicted" and should be removed from the job, a U.S. Justice Department official said on Tuesday. William Harrington, the U.S. Trustee for Region One, argued that New England Compounding Center's board should not be able to hand-pick its chief restructuring officer.
Don't blame Parkinson's disease for addiction: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite concerns that Parkinson's patients were more likely to become compulsive gamblers or shoppers, a new study says untreated patients don't have any more addictions than people without the disease. "It's further evidence that the increased frequency (of addictions) in Parkinson's patients is due to the treatments themselves not the illness," said Dr. Daniel Weintraub, the study's lead author from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Galapagos secures milestone payment from GSK
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian biopharmaceutical company Galapagos <GLPG.BR> said on Wednesday it had delivered a fifth pre-clinical drug candidate to GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>, triggering a milestone payment. Galapagos did not specify the amount of the payment, which is the result of 2006 alliance signed by the two companies related to medicines to fight immuno-inflammatory diseases.
Vitamin D may not relieve arthritis pain
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Taking daily vitamin D doesn't keep knee pain from getting worse or slow the loss of cartilage for people with osteoarthritis, according to a new study. Previous research suggested that among people with the joint disorder, those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood tended to have a slower progression of symptoms. But whether that meant taking more in supplement form would also have a protective effect was unclear.
Treatment-resistant gonorrhea threat rises in North America
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The only remaining oral antibiotic used for gonorrhea failed to cure the infection in nearly 7 percent of patients treated at a clinic in Toronto, Canadian researchers said on Monday in the first published study of treatment-resistant gonorrhea in North America. The study raised alarm among U.S. health officials, who have ordered doctors to stop prescribing the antibiotic known as cefixime because lab cultures showed gonorrhea was starting to develop resistance to the drug.
Three approaches for managing pre-Obamacare healthcare costs
New York (Reuters) - Having just earned his master's degree in written communication, Eric Kaplan should feel triumphant. But his academic success has been tempered by a failure outside the classroom: He can't find health insurance he can afford on his earnings as a freelance writer. Like many other Americans waiting for key provisions of the Affordable Care Act to kick in, Kaplan, 32, of Chicago, is adopting a novel strategy for protecting his health. He applied for another master's degree, this time in social work, because his target school offers health insurance to students.
Amount of caffeine in diet supplements all over the map: study 2013-01-09T000335Z_2_BRE9070WU_RTROPTC_0_US-CAFFEINE-SUPPLEMENT S.XML () -
Medicare spends $1 billion on mammograms: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Screening women for breast cancer costs the U.S. Medicare program $1 billion every year - about as much as it spends on treatment, according to a new study. "It's known that we're spending over $1 billion on treating cancer, but we were surprised to find that we're also spending over $1 billion for screening," said Dr. Cary Gross, the study's lead author from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.