Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Davos divided on tackling the scourge of obesity

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Obesity, a major factor in diabetes and heart disease, imposes costs on both public and private sectors and is a drag on economic growth, but business leaders meeting in Davos can't agree on what they can or should do to address it. The World Economic Forum has some notable past achievements in healthcare, such as galvanizing support for the fight against AIDS and the vaccination of children in poor countries, but tackling the rise in obesity promises to be a much more complicated task.

U.S. mental health experts urge focus on early treatment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. mental health system has huge gaps that prevent millions of people with psychological problems, including children and teens, from receiving effective treatment that could prevent tragic consequences, experts told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday. Just over a month after the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, experts told a Senate hearing that three-quarters of mental illnesses emerge by age 24, but fewer than one in five youths with diagnosable problems receive treatment that could avoid later problems including violence and suicide.

Diabetics found to underuse special footwear

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diabetic patients too often walk without wearing their custom-made shoes designed to prevent foot sores that can lead to infections and amputations, new research finds. "It's very important that patients wear prescribed footwear as much as possible," said senior author, Sicco Bus, staff scientist with the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "High-risk patients are too low in their adherence, and that needs to be improved."

Exercise tied to better colon cancer survival odds

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with colon cancer who spend more time walking and fewer hours on the couch are less likely to die over the seven to eight years after being diagnosed, a new study suggests. The findings don't prove exercise itself boosts a person's survival chances, researchers said. But the pattern held even after the study team took into account how advanced patients' cancers were, their age and other aspects of their diet, lifestyle and health.

Biogen's injectable MS drug effective in trial

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Hepatitis C linked to ink

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Researchers are hoping that people will do some research about where to get a tattoo, after a study found a link between body art and hepatitis C. The new study found that people with the virus were almost four times more likely to report having a tattoo, even when other major risk factors were taken into account, co-author Dr. Fritz Francois of New York University Langone Medical Center told Reuters Health.

Novartis withdraws marketing application for Ruvise

LONDON (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis <NOVN.VX> has withdrawn a marketing application for its drug Ruvise, designed to treat arterial hypertension, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday. The drug, known generically imatinib mesilate, was intended for use in adults as add-on therapy for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), the drug regulator said in a statement.

Bird flu studies, halted over terrorism fear, to resume

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists around the world declared an end on Wednesday to a moratorium on researching mutant forms of the deadly H5N1 bird flu that had raised international biosecurity concerns. Announcing their decision to resume what they say are risky but essential studies of the avian flu strain, the scientists said the work would only be carried out in the most secure sites in countries that agree it can go ahead.

Burger King drops firm which supplied horse meat

LONDON/DUBLIN (Reuters) - Burger King <BKW.N>, one of the most popular fast-food chains in Britain and Ireland, said on Thursday it had stopped using one of the firms caught up in the scandal of supplying grocers with beef that contained horse meat. The British food industry has been rocked by the revelation last week that retailers including market leader Tesco <TSCO.L> and smaller chains Aldi <ALDIEI.UL>, Lidl <LIDUK.UL> and Iceland <ICFDG.UL> had sold beef products that contained horse meat.

Merck CEO says jury out on raising good cholesterol

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The jury is still out on the benefits of increasing "good" HDL cholesterol, but the strategy remains worth pursuing, despite recent setbacks, the chief executive of <MRK.N> said on Thursday. Confidence in the HDL thesis suffered a fresh blow last month when a major clinical trial of Merck's Tredaptive medicine failed. That followed earlier failures with two other HDL-boosting drugs from Pfizer <PFE.N> and Roche <ROG.VX>.