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US-HEALTH Summary

Aug 18, 2011, 10:49 p.m.

Employees beware: Higher healthcare costs ahead

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Large employers expect big increases in healthcare costs in 2012, and say they'll pass more and more of those costs on to their workers. That's the result of a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a trade group for these large companies. "It's a huge burden on businesses and employers," says Helen Darling, the group's president. "Healthcare costs continue to gallop along at over seven percent." Members say they expect their 2012 costs to be 7.2 percent above their 2011 costs, which are trending 7.4 percent above 2010 costs. (Separately, Standard & Poor's reported more modest increases in actual healthcare costs. The average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 5.61 percent over the 12 months ending in June 2011. Click here to see the study: http://link.reuters.com/mup33s)

Moderate drinking cuts risk of Alzheimer's, study shows

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Light to moderate social drinking, a glass or two of wine or beer a day, can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to American researchers. After analyzing more than 140 studies dating back to 1977 and involving more than 365,000 people, scientists at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine found that moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop forms of dementia and cognitive impairment.

Study questions testosterone's link to early death

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Drooping testosterone levels probably don't cut years off a man's life, although earlier studies had suggested they might, according to a new report. Instead, decreases in the male sex hormone may simply be a sign of overall health status, which also dips with age, researchers say.

Vision problems common after glaucoma surgery

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - More than half of people getting a certain type of glaucoma surgery may suffer from temporary, sometimes severe vision loss afterwards, suggests a new study. A smaller proportion -- about 8 in every 100 -- could have some degree of permanent vision loss, researchers found. Patients should be aware of the possible harms of the procedure, called trabeculectomy, which involves draining fluid from the eye, they said.

CT scans to spot appendicitis up sharply in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The number of adults and children getting CT scans to diagnose appendicitis has shot up since the 1990s, a new study finds -- raising questions about whether the high-tech X-rays are being overused. In the past couple of decades, the number of Americans receiving CT (computed tomography) scans has soared, reaching 72 million in 2007.

Doctors screen for cervical cancer too often: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Most doctors opt for screening women for cervical cancer more often than guidelines suggest, according to a new study. Researchers based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many primary care doctors would bring women back for cancer screening annually -- while recommendations generally call for a three-year wait after normal tests.