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NHS smoking crack down, salty painkillers put patient at risk of stroke and heart attack, and a genetic link to alcoholism

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 27 November.

The NHS should get tough on smoking, reports the Telegraph, as NICE announced it wants to end ‘the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside’.

It recommends trusts remove all designated smoking facilities, putting a stop to staff-supervised or staff facilitated smoking breaks, and suggests punishments for staff caught smoking.

The chair of the NICE guidance group, Professor John Britton, told the Telegraph: ‘Most smokers are well aware that if they are smoking when they come into hospital, they are much more likely to pick up an infection and will be slower to heal. It’s therefore in their interests to go without smoking when they are in hospital’

Soluble painkillers taken by millions each day may increase risk of a stroke and heart attack by a fifth, as top-end doses contain an entire daily allowance worth of salt, the BBC reports.

The study, published in the BMJ, examined outcomes for 1.2million UK patients and found regular users of the painkillers were seven times more likely to develop high blood pressure and hypertension.

Prof Gareth Beevers, of Blood Pressure UK, warned many would be unaware of the risk, he told the BBC: ‘Eating too much sodium - in any form - puts up our blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, the biggest killers in the world.’

And finally, the Daily Mail asks ‘could YOU have the binge drinking gene’, after researchers identified a protein in mice which seemed to make them prefer ‘wine-strength alcohol’ to water.

Mice carrying the Gabrb1 gene – which releases the stress reducing GABA and GABAA neurotransmitters – would work to obtain the alcoholic drink by pushing a lever for the reward for long periods.

Lead researcher Dr Quentin Anstee said alcoholism in humans was ‘Much more complicated as environmental factors come into play.

‘But there is the real potential for this to guide development of better treatments for alcoholism in the future,’ he added.

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