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Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Bioengineer developing needle-free "nanopatch" vaccines

LONDON (Reuters) - When it comes to protecting millions of people from deadly infectious diseases, Mark Kendall thinks a fingertip-sized patch covered in thousands of vaccine-coated microscopic spikes is the future. A biomedical engineer with a fascination for problem solving, he has developed the so-called "nanopatch" to try to transform delivery of life-saving vaccines against potential killers like flu and the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer.

Terminally ill woman loses first Irish right-to-die case

DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish woman who is terminally ill with multiple sclerosis lost her battle for the lawful right to die in the first case of its kind to be brought in Ireland, Dublin's High Court said on Thursday. Marie Fleming, a 59-year-old former university lecturer who is completely paralyzed, made an impassioned plea last month to establish her partner's legal right to help her die, an act that is illegal in mainly Roman Catholic Ireland.

U.S. could save $2 trillion on health costs - study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could save $2 trillion in healthcare spending over the next decade, if the U.S. government used its influence in the public and private sectors to nudge soaring costs into line with economic growth, a study released on Thursday said. Compiled by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, the study recommends holding the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system to an annual spending target by having Medicare, Medicaid, other government programs and private insurers encourage providers to accelerate adoption of more cost-effective care.

Insulin "handshake" may do away with injections-study

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists have discovered how insulin is taken up by cells, potentially opening the way for new drugs for diabetes patients that can be administered without injection. The team, whose findings appeared in Nature, solved the puzzle of how the hormone insulin binds to its receptor in cells - a process necessary for cells to take up sugar from the blood and essential for treating diabetes.

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 () -

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