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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Screening might avert many lung cancer deaths: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A calculation based on results from a large lung cancer screening trial projects that 12,000 deaths a year among the highest-risk smokers and ex-smokers in the U.S. could be avoided with a national screening program. The National Lung Screening Trial, published in 2010, found 20 percent fewer deaths from lung cancer in a group of people at highest risk for the disease when they were screened annually with CT scans, a form of high-resolution X-ray that can spot suspicious lung nodules.
Program increases contraceptive use in at-risk teens
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Long after completing an 18-month program designed to teach about contraception and healthy relationships, teenage girls at high risk for unwanted pregnancy were using contraceptives more often and maintaining other safer sexual practices, according to a new study. Researchers in Minnesota tested an approach to preventing teen pregnancies that is based on providing access to birth control methods and information as well as building girls' sense of connectedness to family and society.
Poland finds signs of horse meat at three warehouses
WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish authorities found signs of horse DNA in beef stored at three storage facilities after several countries pointed to Poland as one of the sources of tainted meat that has shaken up the European food industry. Officials in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic have reported that products such as burgers and lasagne contained horsemeat that originated from facilities in Poland.
Niacin-statin combo tied to skin, muscle side effects
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - One-quarter of people taking niacin and statins as part of a four-year-long heart study dropped out early, often for medical reasons tied to niacin's side effects, a new study suggests. Previous research hinted that niacin could boost HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, but it was unclear whether the B-vitamin would improve heart health. The full data from the new study, which included 25,000 people in Europe and China, are being presented next month at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting in San Francisco.
Cancer risks higher in worst hit Fukushima area: WHO
GENEVA (Reuters) - People in the area worst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. A magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.
Personalized risk info helps with screening decision
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People make more educated decisions about screening tests when they're given a personalized assessment of their own risk, rather than one-size-fits-all information, according to a new review of past studies. Those personalized evaluations take into account factors such as age, race, gender, weight, lifestyle and family history to determine an individual's chances of developing a certain type of cancer, for example.
Analysis: Emerging deadly virus demands swift sleuth work
LONDON (Reuters) - The emergence of a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has already killed half those known to be infected requires speedy scientific detective work to figure out its potential. Experts in virology and infectious diseases say that while they already have unprecedented detail about the genetics and capabilities of the novel coronavirus, or NCoV, what worries them more is what they don't know.
Amgen loses as top U.S. court backs class actions
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier on Wednesday for shareholders to bring class-action lawsuits, breaking a recent line of decisions that had made it harder to sue corporate defendants collectively and perhaps obtain greater recoveries. By a 6-3 vote, the court allowed shareholders of Amgen Inc <AMGN.O> to sue the biotechnology company as a group without first having to show that misinformation had materially and fraudulently inflated its stock price.
U.S. gay couples report poorer health than straight married counterparts
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gay and lesbian couples living together report poorer health than straight married couples, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, speculating that legalizing same-sex marriage could reduce the disparities. Studies have shown that married couples enjoy better health than people who are single, divorced or separated.
GlaxoSmithKline unit joins patent pool for AIDS drugs
LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's <GSK.L> HIV/AIDS drugs business is to share intellectual property rights on children's medicine in a patent pool designed to make treatments more widely available in poor countries. ViiV Healthcare, majority-owned by GSK, is the second research-based pharmaceutical business to sign up to the new Medicines Patent Pool, following a lead set in 2011 by Gilead Sciences <GILD.O>.