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How television kills, why you should pour coffee over yourself and why a nightcap isn't a good idea

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 16 December.

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Friday 16 December.

Television kills, or at least shortens your life by 22 minutes, according to the Independent and the Daily Mail. A study suggests that television's damaging effect may rank alongside smoking and obesity, and for ever hour spent in front of the screen, your life may be shortened by 22 minutes. The finding, from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, comes at a time when television viewing among UK viewers has reached a new high, of on average four hours and three minutes a day.

A blood test that can distinguish between benign and dangerous forms of prostate cancer could soon be developed. The Independent reports that scientists have identified a genetic difference between a metastatic prostate tumour and a benign tumour, which could lead to the development of a test for dangerous metastatic prostate cancer, and new drugs that could prevent tumours from spreading.

The Guardian says that slapping on caffeine could protect against certain skin cancers, and help develop better sunscreen lotions. Research on mice suggests that caffeine changes the activity of a gene involved in the destruction of cells that have DNA damage. However, this does not necessarily mean coffee lovers are protected against the disease - the study examined how caffeine affected genes when it was directly applied to the skin, rather than ingested.

And finally, people who indulge in a night-cap to get a good night's sleep, may need to think again before reaching for the whisky bottle. The Daily Telegraph states that although alcohol in the bloodstream leads to a deep sleep for the first half of the night, shallow sleep is followed for the rest of the night. Drinking large amounts of alcohol before bed can disturb sleep, have a significant effect on the body's digestive system and induce other illnesses.

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