Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Sharp drop in drink deaths follows alcohol price rise

LONDON (Reuters) - Increasing the minimum price of alcohol by 10 percent can lead to immediate and significant drops in drink-related deaths and may also have long-term beneficial health effects, according to a study published on Thursday. Canadian researchers found that deaths caused by alcohol between 2002 and 2009 in the western province of British Columbia dropped when the minimum alcohol price was increased, while alcohol-related deaths rose when more private alcohol stores were opened.

Michigan Republican governor Snyder backs Medicaid expansion 2013-02-06T214142Z_1_BRE91519B_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-HEALTHCARE-MEDI CAID.XML () -

Insight: Shrinking U.S. labor unions see relief in marijuana industry

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The medical marijuana shop next to a tattoo parlor on a busy street in Los Angeles looks much like hundreds of other pot dispensaries that dot the city. Except for one thing: On the glass door - under a green cross signaling that cannabis can be bought there for medical purposes - is a sticker for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), the nation's largest retail union.

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's not contagious: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite concerns that faulty brain proteins could be transferred from person to person by treatments involving human fluids and tissues, a new study finds no signs of increased risk for two major degenerative brain diseases among recipients. "I think it's reassuring to people who had transplants, blood transfusions, morticians and researchers who work on these diseases," said the study's senior author, Dr. John Trojanowski, from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Biogen's purchase of MS drug ends rocky partnership with Elan

BOSTON (Reuters) - Biogen Idec Inc's <BIIB.O> agreement to buy Elan Corp Plc's <ELN.I><ELN.N> interest in the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri gives Biogen full control of a product that is poised for further growth and ends a long partnership that has often been contentious. Analysts have speculated for several years that Biogen could acquire Elan to take control of Tysabri. The current agreement, under which Biogen will pay Elan $3.25 billion in cash plus royalties, gives Biogen the asset it is most interested in while leaving Elan with money to spend on acquisitions and to develop its pipeline of experimental drugs.

Mediterranean diet may be best for diabetes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diets lean on meat and rich in healthy fats like olive oil were most effective at promoting weight loss and lowering blood sugar among people with diabetes in a review of evidence from the last 10 years. Benefits were also seen with diets low in carbohydrates, high in protein or low in simple sugars.

Alzheimer's to triple by 2050 as baby boomers age

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The number of U.S. residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer's disease is expected to nearly triple to 13.8 million by 2050 as aging baby boomers swell the ranks of those living with the brain-wasting disease, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The new estimates, published in the journal Neurology, confirm prior estimates and make clear the need for new and better treatments for Alzheimer's, the leading cause of dementia that now affects some 5 million Americans and 38 million people worldwide.

Nerve stimulation may help some with migraines

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A nerve stimulator placed on the forehead may help prevent migraines among some people who get the headaches regularly - and it appears to be safe, according to a new trial. Researchers found that people who used the stimulation devices for a short period every day over three months had fewer headaches than those who used a "sham" stimulator.

Along with meds, brain stimulation may aid depression

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treating people with depression using weak electrical currents passed into the brain through a headband may help relieve some of their symptoms when combined with an antidepressant, a new study suggests. Researchers found that after six weeks of treatment with a combination of brain stimulation and sertraline, marketed as Zoloft, nearly two-thirds of depressed participants got significantly better.

Baby Boomers' health worse than past generation's

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Members of the baby boomer generation are in worse health than their parents were at the same age, according to a new study. In a large national survey, about 13 percent of baby boomers - the generation born in the two decades after World War Two - reported being in "excellent" health in middle age, compared to 32 percent of the previous generation who said the same at the same stage of life.