Smoking 'may play schizophrenia role'

Smoking could play a direct role in the development of schizophrenia and needs to be investigated, researchers say.

A team say smokers are more likely to develop the disorder and at a younger age.

Their analysis of 61 separate studies suggests nicotine in cigarette smoke may be altering the brain.

Experts said it was a "pretty strong case" but needed more research.

Smoking has long been associated with psychosis, but it has often been believed that schizophrenia patients are more likely to smoke because they use cigarettes as a form of self-medication to ease the distress of hearing voices or having hallucinations.

Humans evolved to be taller and faster-thinking, study suggests

People have evolved to be smarter and taller than their predecessors, a study of populations around the world suggests.

Those who are born to parents from diverse genetic backgrounds tend to be taller and have sharper thinking skills than others, the major study has found.

Researchers analyzed health and genetic information from more than 100 studies carried out around the world. These included details on more than 350,000 people from urban and rural communities.

The team found that greater genetic diversity is linked to increased height. It is also associated with better cognitive skills, as well as higher levels of education.

Pancreatic cancer blood test breakthrough

Scientists believe they are close to a blood test for pancreatic cancer - one of the hardest tumours to detect and treat.

The test, which they describe as "a major advance", hunts for tiny spheres of fat that are shed by the cancers.

Experts said the findings were striking and ingenious, but required refinement before they could become a cancer test.

Chocolate for your heart

Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk, finds research published online.

There doesn't seem to be any evidence for cutting out chocolate to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, conclude the researchers.

The researchers also carried out a systematic review of the available international published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease, involving almost 158,000 people.

Nuts 'protect against early death'

Eating half a handful of nuts every day could substantially lower the risk of early death, a study suggests.

Previous studies had already indicated a link with cardiovascular health, but this is the first to look at specific nuts and diseases.

University researchers found a 23% lower chance of death during the 10-year study in people eating at least 10g (0.3oz) of nuts or peanuts a day.