Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Celebrity bad science: Dried placenta pills and oxygen


LONDON (Reuters) - Pop guru Simon Cowell carries

pocket-sized inhalable oxygen shots, America's "Mad Men"

actress January Jones favors dried placenta pills, and British

soap star Patsy Palmer rubs coffee granules into her skin.

Celebrities rarely shy away from public peddling of dubious

ideas about health and science, and 2012 was no exception.

Silicosis class action motion filed against South Africa

gold firms

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African lawyer has moved

to file a class action suit against over 30 gold firms on

behalf of 17,000 former miners who say they contracted

silicosis, a debilitating lung disease, due to negligence in

health and safety. The companies include third-largest global

bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti , fourth-largest

Gold Fields and Harmony Gold . Also named is

Anglo American's South African unit, which owed gold

assets in the past but no longer produces it.

Meningitis, West Nile occupy U.S. health officials in 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The year started in the United States

with a mild flu season but ended up being marked by deadly

outbreaks of fungal meningitis, West Nile virus and Hantavirus.

Tainted steroid medication has been cited as the cause of the

meningitis outbreak that killed 39 people.

Study links milk-producing protein to aggressive breast


HONG KONG (Reuters) - The discovery that a protein which

triggers milk production in women may also be responsible for

making breast cancers aggressive could open up new

opportunities for treatment of the most common and deadliest

form of cancer among women. Found in all breast cells, the

protein ELF5 tries to activate milk production even in breast

cancer cells, which does not work and then makes the cancer

more aggressive, according to scientists in Australia and


No fewer side effects for prostate proton therapy

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An expensive prostate cancer

radiation treatment known as proton beam therapy has just as

many side effects as a more common and cheaper radiation

method, according to a new study. In terms of side effects, "In

the long term, there's really no difference in outcomes between

proton radiation and IMRT for men with prostate cancer," said

lead author Dr. James Yu, a radiation oncologist at Yale

University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Poor reading skills tied to risk of teen pregnancy

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Seventh grade girls who have

trouble reading are more likely to get pregnant in high school

than average or above-average readers, according to a new study

from Philadelphia. Researchers found that pattern stuck even

after they took into account the girls' race and poverty in

their neighborhoods - both of which are tied to teen pregnancy


Justice Sotomayor refuses to block contraceptives mandate



Shanghai to enact strict new food safety law - Xinhua

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai will introduce tough new laws

to blacklist firms that flout food safety laws, the official

Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China's

consumer hub to end the food scandals that in recent years have

killed children. Under the proposed law, firms caught using

banned substances in food, producing food from inedible

ingredients, or illegally making, selling or using banned food

additives, will be banned from operating in Shanghai, Xinhua

reported late on Wednesday quoting city officials.