Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Are plant-based diets environmentally friendly?

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A nutritious diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables might not be the greenest in its environmental impact, according to a new study from France. After analyzing the eating habits of about 2,000 French adults, and the greenhouse gas emissions generated by producing the plants, fish, meat, fowl and other ingredients, researchers concluded that widely embraced goals for the health of people and for the health of the planet are not necessarily perfectly compatible.

FDA outlines path to test Alzheimer's drugs earlier

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Proposed U.S. guidelines may make it easier for drug companies to test Alzheimer's treatments in people at an earlier stage, when scientists think they may have the best shot at working. The draft guidance document, issued on Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reflects changes in scientists' understanding of Alzheimer's. They now believe the disease begins at least a decade before symptoms appear.

FDA approves Celgene drug for multiple myeloma 2013-02-08T222012Z_2_BRE917101_RTROPTC_0_US-CELGENE-MULTIPLEMYE LOMA-FDA.XML () -

Catholic bishops reject Obama offer on contraceptive coverage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama Administration's latest bid for compromise over a hotly disputed health policy that requires employees at religiously affiliated institutions to have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said his group would redouble efforts to reach an agreement on the contraceptives issue after more than a year of protest and scores of federal lawsuits from Catholics groups and other social conservatives.

Doctors seek help on cancer treatment from IBM supercomputer 2013-02-08T210628Z_1_BRE9170Z7_RTROPTC_0_US-IBM-WATSON-CANCER.X ML () -

U.S. rejects Mississippi health insurance exchange plan

JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) - Mississippi on Friday became the first state to have its proposal for a health insurance exchange rejected by the U.S. government, and federal officials said Republican Governor Phil Bryant's opposition to the plan was to blame. "With a lack of support from your governor and no formal commitment to coordinate from other state agencies, we do not see a feasible pathway to conditionally approving a state-based exchange in Mississippi for 2014," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter to the state.

No sign that omega-3s benefit babies' brains

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A review of the existing evidence finds it to be inconclusive about whether omega-3 fatty acids taken by mothers during pregnancy boost their kids' brain development early in life. "There are so many trials where pregnant women are supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids and they've all got different results," said lead study author Jacqueline Gould, a researcher at the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia. "We found that there was neither a positive nor a negative effect on visual or neurological outcomes."

U.S. pharmaceutical exports to Iran cut in half in 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exports of U.S. pharmaceuticals to Iran were cut in half last year, according to data released on Friday, while overall U.S. exports to the Islamic republic rose about nine percent because of grain sales. The official U.S. government statistics appear to support the claims of sanctions lawyers and some independent experts that financial sanctions are making it harder for Iranians to obtain medicine despite loopholes designed to permit such trade.

Psychiatric drugs tied to falls in the elderly

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Seniors taking psychiatric drugs may be at extra high risk for falling, new Dutch research suggests. Of about 400 elderly people in the study, those who took medications including antidepressants and antipsychotics were twice as likely to report having fallen three or more times in the previous year, researchers found.

Britain condemns "criminal" horsemeat scandal

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government accused unknown criminals for a growing scandal of horsemeat being sold in imported beef products that has generated shock headlines in a country where many recoil in horror at the very idea of eating horses. Prime Minister David Cameron assured consumers on Friday there was no health risk from a product considered a delicacy in France and Italy. But, as the furor saps public confidence in food labeling and hygiene supervision, he called it "completely unacceptable", and his office condemned "acts of criminality".