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Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Kids aren´t protecting themselves against STDs during oral sex

Adolescents and young adults regularly engage in oral sex but seldom use condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, new research shows. That didn´t surprise the researcher who headed the study. "Many studies show that adolescents and young adults are unaware of the health risks associated with oral sex," said Giuseppina Valle Holway, a sociology professor at The University of Tampa in Florida, in an email.

Sign-ups pick up in week five of 2018 Obamacare open enrollment: U.S.

The number of people signing up for 2018 Obamacare plans picked up significantly during the fifth week of open enrollment, a U.S. government agency reported on Wednesday, but the number of participants appears to be falling short of last year's numbers with just over a week of enrollment left. For the week ended Dec. 2, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 823,180 people signed up for 2018 Obamacare individual insurance in the 39 states that use the federal government website Healthcare.gov. That was up from 504,181 people in the previous week. About 3.6 million people so far have signed up for Obamacare plans using the federal website.

Study confirms higher breast cancer risk with hormone-based contraception

(Reuters Health) - Women who currently use or recently used hormone-based contraception face a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer, although the overall risk for most women is relatively low, a new study of 1.8 million women in Denmark has concluded. Older contraceptives were known to carry a higher risk of breast cancer, but doctors had hoped that the newer lower-estrogen formulations might pose a lower risk.

Knee surgery outcomes linked with education level

(Reuters Health) - Patients who live in low-income communities and lack a college education may have worse pain after knee replacement surgery than their more educated neighbors, a recent study suggests. Two years after total knee replacement surgeries, patients in poor communities who hadn´t gone to college had average pain scores that were about 10 points worse than patients in the same neighborhood who had some college education, the study found.

U.S. healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016

Growth in healthcare spending in the United States slowed in 2016 following two years of expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a government health agency reported on Wednesday. Health spending increased 4.3 percent to $3.3 trillion compared to a 5.8 percent growth rate in 2015, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the government's health programs.

High tech, high finance and high times for U.S. pot industry

Two years ago, Alan Gertner was head of Google's Asia-Pacific sales team in Singapore, handling more than $100 million in business. Now, he begins his day in a small Toronto office, building a cannabis brand that sells fancy smoking accessories such as vaporizers and bongs that cost up to $335 CAD ($261.72 USD).

UnitedHealth to buy DaVita primary care unit for $4.9 billion

The largest U.S. health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc will buy DaVita Inc's primary and urgent care services for $4.9 billion in its second acquisition this year to expand its fast-growing medical group, it said on Wednesday. Health insurers are trying to cut medical costs by playing a more direct role in medical services, arguing they can save money by shifting patients to cheaper, more accessible locations for routine or non life-threatening emergency medical services.

Home births in rural areas just as safe as in cities

(Reuters Health) - Home births may not be more dangerous for healthy rural mothers than for their urban counterparts, a recent U.S. study suggests. The 18,723 pregnant women in the study all had a low risk of complications, were being cared for by midwives, and planned to deliver their babies at home or in birthing centers. Once researchers adjusted for patient characteristics that can influence birth outcomes for mothers and babies, they didn´t find the odds of complications any higher for rural than for urban women.

Roche to seize leap-frog opportunity in lung cancer

After lagging rivals in cancer immunotherapies, Swiss drugmaker Roche hopes to leap-frog into the lead in the biggest market, tackling previously untreated lung cancer. "We have a real chance to be at the forefront here," Chief Executive Severin Schwan said on Wednesday. "Our ambition is to become a clear leader in the field of cancer immunotherapies."

FDA proposes drug development guidance for rare pediatric diseases

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a draft guidance on Wednesday to simplify the procedure of developing drugs for rare pediatric disorders, such as Gaucher's disease, by eliminating the need for certain trials and minimizing patient enrollment. The health regulator said the new approach reduces the number of patients on placebo by allowing companies to collaborate and test multiple drug products in the same clinical trial. http://bit.ly/2iwQt3i

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