Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Fight tobacco marketing, boost vaccinations to curb cancer, says report

LONDON (Reuters) - Fighting the tobacco industry's tactics in the world's poorest countries and ensuring the best vaccines get to those most in need are key to cutting the number of cancer deaths worldwide, according to a report by specialists in the disease. Experts reporting from a meeting of cancer organizations across the world said smoking and other forms of tobacco use are the main drivers of a growing global burden of cancer.

Despite obesity rise, U.S. calories trending downward

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - U.S. adults have been eating steadily fewer calories for almost a decade, despite the continued increase in obesity rates, according to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It's hard to reconcile what these data show, and what is happening with the prevalence of obesity," co-author Dr. William Dietz, former CDC director of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, told Reuters Health.

U.S. doctor's "gutsy" move led to baby's cure from HIV

JACKSON, Mississippi/CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) - The doctor who cured an HIV infected baby for the first time is happier talking to children than to adults and is finding all the attention since the news came out a little overwhelming. Dr. Hannah Gay and colleagues Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga of the University of Massachusetts and Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported on the child's case at a medical meeting in Atlanta on Sunday.

UK health cost body backs Novartis asthma drug in fresh U-turn

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's health cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE said it planned to recommend the use of Novartis's <NOVN.VX> severe asthma drug Xolair after prevaricating for months over whether it should be paid for on the taxpayer-funded National Health Service (NHS). The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said on Thursday it had reversed a November decision in the light of extra analyses and a move by Novartis to offer a so-called patient access scheme to discount Xolair's list price.

Small trial shows "brain pacemaker" may ease severe anorexia

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have for the first time reported successful use of a brain-stimulating implant to help patients with severe anorexia whose condition had not improved with other treatments. Doctors implanted a device similar to a pacemaker in the brains of six severe anorexics and found at least half put on weight and showed improvements in mood. Under previous therapies, none had shown progress.

Federal judge strikes down Idaho ban on late-term abortions

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a 2011 Idaho law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, ruling that the measure is unconstitutional. Idaho is one of at least eight states that have enacted late-term abortion prohibitions in recent years based on controversial medical research suggesting that a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation.

Study results take almost two years to be released

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Results from the average clinical trial take almost two years to be published, according to a new study, despite U.S. regulations calling for a 12-month maximum lag time on the release of most research findings. That's concerning, researchers said, because publication delays hinder doctors' ability to make the most well-informed treatment choices with their patients and slow progress within the scientific community.

Heart failure successes not seen in younger patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Though fewer American adults were hospitalized with heart failure during the last decade, hospitalization rates among heart failure patients under age 55 saw the least change, according to a new study. Based on billing data for almost 1.7 million U.S. heart failure patients, researchers found that the number of hospital stays for the condition fell overall by about 27 percent between 2001 and 2009.

Sleep aids tied to hip fractures in the elderly

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Nursing home residents taking sleep aids such as Ambien are more likely to fall and fracture a hip than residents not being treated for insomnia, new research suggests. According to the study's lead author, the known dangers of older benzodiazepine sedatives, such as Valium and Xanax, among elderly patients have led many doctors to turn to the newer medicines, known as non-benzodiazepines, but that doesn't mean they're any safer.

Too much salt may trigger autoimmune diseases: studies

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Increased salt consumption may be a key culprit behind rising rates of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, researchers reported on Wednesday in a trio of papers looking at the role of a specific class of cells linked with inflammation. Reporting in the journal Nature, the researchers said high-salt diets increased levels of a type of immune cell linked with autoimmune disease. And mice genetically engineered to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) got much worse when they ate what amounted to a high-salt Western diet compared with mice who had more moderate salt intake.