Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Obesity, lack of insurance cited in U.S. health gap

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Overeating, lack of health insurance access and comparatively high poverty are among the many reasons why Americans are less healthy and die younger than people in other wealthy countries, a report requested by the U.S. government showed on Wednesday. The United States spends more per person on healthcare than any other nation but lags on many important health measures amid higher rates of obesity and heart disease and worse infant mortality rates than other rich countries.

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."

Reality TV viewers more likely to tan

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - College students who watch reality television beauty shows are at least twice as likely as non-viewers to use tanning lamps or tan outdoors for hours at a time, a new study suggests. That finding doesn't prove watching shows such as America's Next Top Model and Toddlers & Tiaras drives people to the tanning booths themselves, researchers said.

Fewer Americans saw doctors during 'Great Recession'

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Americans made fewer trips to their doctors' offices during the Great Recession than they did earlier in the decade, according to new research. "These are not dramatic drops, but in our healthcare system we're used to our numbers going up... So just seeing a reverse in the trend is interesting," said Karoline Mortensen, the study's lead author from the University of Maryland in College Park.

One in 25 youth attempt suicide: U.S. study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - About one in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide, according to a new national study, and one in eight has thought about it. Researchers said those numbers are similar to the prevalence of lifetime suicidal thinking and attempts reported by adults - suggesting the teenage years are an especially vulnerable time.

Boston declares health emergency as flu outbreak worsens

BOSTON (Reuters) - Faced with a surge in flu cases, the mayor of Boston declared a public health emergency on Wednesday as authorities around the United States scrambled to cope with a rising number of patients. So far, in the early stage of the normal flu season, Boston has already recorded 10 times as many cases as in all of the 2011-2012 flu season.

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.

Swiss health insurer makes claim against Bayer over Yasmin pill

ZURICH/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Switzerland's biggest health insurer CSS is supporting a young woman in her claim against Bayer <BAYGn.DE>, as the fall-out from alleged side effects of the German drugmaker's contraceptive pill Yasmin widens. Bayer is already under fire in other markets over new-generation contraceptives. France will stop reimbursing prescription costs of some types from March, after a woman sued Bayer over alleged side effects.

Idenix says FDA seeks more time to review hepatitis C drug 2013-01-09T171228Z_1_BRE9080WB_RTROPTC_0_US-IDENIX-FDA-HEPATITI SC.XML () -

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.