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Big family – happy heart, weekend woes and cancer gene identified

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Monday 28 November.

If you thought that being a mother, having to cope with four or more darling offspring, running riot around the house, would cause enough stress to induce a heart attack, you’d be wrong according to a new study reported in the Mail this morning.

‘Having a big family is good for your heart’ apparently, with women who experience four or more pregnancies being less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never have a baby. According to researchers at the University of California, higher levels of pregnancy hormones may have ‘lasting benefits on the blood vessels’. The scientists are keen to point out, however, that the exact link between large families and lower levels of cardiovascular disease is ‘unknown’.

The Telegraph has taken time to lift a report from the BBC’s Panorama programme. According to Panorama, NHS hospitals built under private finance initiatives (PFIs) are costing the taxpayer an extra 5% due to the rising rate of inflation. Of 85 hospital trusts with PFI deals contacted by the BBC, 80 reported having to make increased payments due to inflation. The PFI deals were made when inflation levels were low and anticipated to be low for the foreseeable future but, with inflation rates soaring, the NHS has to pay back higher rates to private companies in contracts that typically run for 30 years.

The old saying: ‘Never fall ill at night or on a weekend, and if you want to live, never together’ may be worth following in light of a new report released last night and covered widely in the papers (including the Independent) this morning. The report by the Dr Foster Intelligence healthcare information organisation, found that patients admitted to A&E at NHS hospitals on the weekend are 10% more likely to die than if they were admitted during the week. At a ‘handful’ of trusts that figure rises to 20%. The higher deaths rates are attributed to ‘significantly reduced services at weekends and nights’.

A person’s chances of developing an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer can be increased by almost a third depending on their genes, new research by the Institute of Cancer research shows. The Mail reports that susceptibility to multiple myeloma was already known to be hereditary but the ICR study has identified the individual gene responsible. Researchers say the discovery is ‘extremely important and will lead to better screening, earlier diagnosis and treatment in the future’.