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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. researchers tracking flu through Twitter
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Researchers and computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University have devised a way to track cases of influenza across the United States using the microblogging site Twitter. Twitter is full of tweets about the flu, which has been severe and reached epidemic proportions this year, but it has been difficult to separate tweets about the flu from actual cases.
Public wants deficit reduction but not programs cuts: polling data
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most Americans want President Barack Obama and Congress to reduce the federal deficit without cutting Medicare, Social Security and education, according to polling data released Thursday. A joint survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation also showed majorities support President Barack Obama's plan to expand Medicaid and provide subsidized private health insurance to working families through new online state exchanges.
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."
Unintended pregnancies on the rise in servicewomen
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Just over ten percent of women in the military said in 2008 they'd had an unintended pregnancy in the last year - a figure significantly higher than rates in the general public, according to a new study. The findings come amid news that the Pentagon will lift the ban on women in front-line combat jobs starting in 2016.
Mediterranean diet may not protect the aging brain
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite hopes that a Mediterranean-style diet would be as good for the head as it is for the heart, a new study among French men and women found little benefit to aging brains. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the participants' dietary patterns in middle age and measured their cognitive performance at around age 65, but found no connection between Mediterranean eating and mental performance.
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
2013-01-24T141746Z_2_BRE90N0LD_RTROPTC_0_US-BIOGEN-MS.XML () -
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.