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New threat to health; Why losing at gambling may be genetic and the NHS brings a touch of Hollywood glamour to the hospital gown



By Lilian Anekwe

Our roundup of news headlines on Tuesday 9 February 2010

Third-hand smoke is the new threat to health, according to The Independent, which reports that scientists are warning of the danger posed by nicotine, which they now know can stick to indoor surfaces for days, reacting with nitrous acid ‘to form cancer-causing chemicals that can then be absorbed through the skin of ingested into the body of non-smokers.’

The scientists don’t quite know yet whether the carcinogens produced cause a significant health risk, but the Daily Telegraph are also similarly concerned.

Older mothers are 50% more likely to have a child with autism than a mother aged between 25 and 29, the Daily Telegraph says. As well as having their children when younger, new mums should make sure they sit down with their children and have old-fashioned family meals, which the Daily Mail says could ‘cut the risk of childhood obesity by 40% for four-year olds.’

A Californian company is offering couples the chance to buy a test kit that claims to screen for more than 100 diseases for the low low price of £700, the Daily Mail says. And before you rush to Google them, bear in mind experts says the test has a ‘very eugenic flavour’.

One condition a genetic test can’t screen for is ‘loss aversion’ – the tendency to risk losing money as a result of reckless gambling – which a new study suggests could all be down to one’s genes, The Independent reports.

Scientists gave two women with a rare genetic disorder that left their amygdalas damaged were given $50 to gamble with a went for it hell for leather, while others in this ethically dubious study were more cautious in their gambling.

My favourite story of the day is in The Times, which reports that patients may soon be able to see the back of the undignified, open-back hospital gown.

As part of a project to ‘improve standards of privacy and dignity across the NHS’ a hospital trust in Bristol has commissioned fashion designer Ben de Lisi, famed for creating flowing backless gowns that grace Hollywood red carpets, to create a collection including a new wraparound gown that will never again leave a patient embarrassed by a sudden draft.

Daily Digest