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."

Boston declares health emergency amid U.S. flu outbreak

BOSTON (Reuters) - With flu cases in this city up tenfold from last year, 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. U.S. health authorities say the flu arrived about a month earlier than usual this year, and the flu strain making most people sick - H3N2 - has a reputation for causing fairly severe illness, especially in the elderly.

Fluid from Pap test used to detect ovarian, endometrial cancers

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Using cervical fluid collected from routine Pap smears, U.S. researchers were able to spot genetic changes caused by both ovarian and endometrial cancers, offering promise for a new kind of screening test for these deadly cancers. Experts say that although the test has tremendous potential, it is still years from widespread use. But if proven effective with more testing, it would fill a significant void.

Cancer studies often downplay chemo side effects

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Doctors relying on studies published in top journals for guidance about how to treat women with breast cancer may not be getting the most accurate information, according to a new analysis. "Investigators want to go overboard to make their studies look positive," said Dr. Ian Tannock, the senior author of the new study in the Annals of Oncology.

Reality TV beauty show viewers more likely to tan: study 2013-01-10T043843Z_1_BRE90904H_RTROPTC_0_US-REALITYTV-TAN.XML () -

Poor people participate in cancer trials less often

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Poor people are less likely to take part in clinical trials for new cancer drugs, which can make it harder to develop treatments, according to a new study. "Cancer clinical trials are how we move the field forward. As a result of patients not participating in clinical trials, it takes a lot longer and it's much more expensive to develop new therapies," said Dr. Dawn Hershman, who worked on the study.

One in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide: study

2013-01-10T041424Z_1_BRE909048_RTROPTC_0_US-SUICIDE.XML () -

Teva questions safety of MS drug from rival Biogen 2013-01-09T214940Z_1_BRE90818T_RTROPTC_0_US-TEVA-FDA-PETITION.X ML () -

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.