A simple jab could stop cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and junk food, say scientists.

Researchers are launching a study to discover whether hormones found in the gut could help us fight our addictions, and so stop those who have given up smoking or drinking - or who are trying to lose weight - from relapsing.

It follows research that found those who are overweight experience food cravings similar to those for nicotine, alcohol or drugs. Scientists from Imperial College London believe that by using the hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 and ghrelin - which have been proven to stave off hunger pangs - they may be able to control the parts of the brain linked to addiction and stress.

They are now calling for 90 volunteers - 30 who are overweight, 30 ex-drinkers and 30 ex-smokers - to help them discover if the six-hour infusion, similar to a drip, could stop people returning to their bad habits.

Advertisement

After the drip, participants' brains will be scanned while they look at pictures of junk food, cigarettes and alcohol to see how they react. They will also be shown images of stressful situations, such as someone holding a gun, to help scientists understand how the hormone might help to reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher Dr Tony Goldstone said: 'Obesity, smoking and alcohol dependence are major health burdens to society?...?There is a pressing need to develop new drug treatments for addiction.'

He believes that in the future the hormone may also be able to help those addicted to drugs. If the study is successful, he is hopeful a jab version could be available within the next five years.

'In the longer term it would be an injection like a diabetic has,' he said. 'If it is successful, the drugs are already available to be used.'

- Daily Mail