Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Iron tablets may damage DNA

Friday Feb 12 2016

"Iron tablets taken by millions of people could damage the body within just 10 minutes," the Mail Online reports; somewhat over-dramatically. A study looking at cell samples in a lab, and not actual humans, did find some evidence of damage to DNA…

Exercise in middle-age 'stops your brain shrinking'

Thursday Feb 11 2016

"A new study has suggested that exercising in your 40s could stop the brain shrinking," The Daily Telegraph reports. A study found people with good fitness levels in their 40s had larger brains than their unfit peers when measured 20 years later…

Scientists look at what puts the 'junk' into junk foods

Thursday Feb 11 2016

"Scientists say they have cracked what makes processed foods… harmful," the Daily Mail reports. A small study suggests processed foods are high in "PAMPs" – pathogen-associated molecular patterns – which are molecules that trigger inflammation…

Zika virus: your questions answered

Wednesday Feb 10 2016

The World Health Organization reports that the Zika virus has now spread through both South and Central America and expects three to four million people to be infected in 2016. So what is the Zika virus and what steps can you take to protect yourself?

Paracetamol use in pregnancy and infancy linked to child asthma

Wednesday Feb 10 2016

"Babies given paracetamol are nearly a third more likely to develop asthma," the Mail Online reports. The study the news is based on also found a link between maternal use of the painkiller in pregnancy, and childhood asthma…

New NICE guidelines on sun exposure warn 'tanning is unsafe'

Wednesday Feb 10 2016

"No safe way to suntan, new NICE guidance warns," BBC News reports. Though the guidelines also stress the benefits of moderate sun exposure to prevent vitamin D deficiency; which is more common in the UK than many people realise…

'Bionic spine' could pave the way for new paralysis treatments

Tuesday Feb 9 2016

"'Bionic spine' could enable paralysed patients to walk using subconscious thought," reports The Guardian. In a study using sheep, Australian researchers have developed a device that can record movement signals…

Hope that blood test 'could diagnose five types of cancer'

Monday Feb 8 2016

"A new blood test that detects five different forms of cancer is one step closer to becoming a reality and could save millions of lives around the world," the Mail Online reports. The test looks for abnormal changes…

Could statins treat common cause of vision loss?

Friday Feb 5 2016

"Statins could be miracle cure for blindness," reports the Express, following a new study into dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in adults...

Smoking bans linked to fewer heart attacks and strokes

Thursday Feb 4 2016

The ban on smoking indoors in public places “has helped save the lives of passive smokers,” says the Daily Mail. The headline refers to a review of the effects of smoking bans, which found fewer admissions to hospitals...

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What is Behind the Headlines?

We give you the facts without the fiction. Professor Sir Muir Gray, founder of Behind the Headlines, explains more...

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