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Breath tests detect cancer, plain packaging on cigarettes and link between insomnia and heart failure

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 6 March.

Doctors may have a new tool in diagnosing stomach cancer – the humble breath test.

The BBC reports that scientists from Israel and China found that the test was 90% accurate at detecting and distinguishing cancers from other stomach complaints.

The study of 130 patients, published in the British Journal of Cancer, looked for volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath that are unique to patients with stomach cancer.

The team is now running a bigger study in more patients to validate the test.

Meanwhile, the UK is set to follow Australia’s example and introduce plain packaging for cigarettes through legislation this year, the Guardian reports.

The legislation will also ban smoking in cars carrying anyone under the age of 16, hoping that peer pressure will help enforce it.

And finally, the BBC reports that a study has shown that people who have trouble drifting off to sleep may be at increased risk of heart failure.

A study in the European Heart Journal of 50,000 people over 11 years found that people who suffered several nights of poor sleep were three times more likely to develop the condition.

The link between a bad night’s sleep and heart failure remained valid despite researchers taking smoking, obesity and other well-known triggers of insomnia and heart problems into account.

Dr Lars Laugsand, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and lead author of the study, said: ‘We don’t know whether insomnia truly causes heart failure. But if it does, the good thing is it is a potentially treatable condition.’

‘So evaluating sleep problems might provide additional information in the prevention of heart failure.’

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

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