Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Leaving babies to cry 'will improve their sleep', study says

Friday May 27 2016

"Babies do sleep better if you leave them to cry," the Daily Mail reports. A small study suggests that "graduated extinction" – better known as controlled crying in this country – increased sleep length and reduced the…

Could cannabis damage DNA that is then passed down generations?

Thursday May 26 2016

"Smoking cannabis can alter a person's DNA, causing mutations that expose a user to serious illnesses," the Mail Online reports. A new review has looked at the role cannabis may play in what is known as chromothripsis…

Exam stress linked to teen suicide

Thursday May 26 2016

"First detailed study into 130 [teen] suicide cases in England finds range of common anxieties," The Guardian reports, citing factors including exam stress, bullying and bereavement…

Link between stillbirth and air pollution 'inconclusive'

Wednesday May 25 2016

"Air pollution may raise risk of stillbirth and pregnant women should consider leaving cities, say scientists," The Daily Telegraph reports. This is somewhat radical advice given the study that prompted the headline…

Proof opiates are useful for chronic back pain 'lacking'

Tuesday May 24 2016

"Powerful painkillers doled out in their millions are ineffective against back pain," the Daily Mail reports. An Australian review found evidence for the effectiveness of opiate-based painkillers, such as tramadol and…

Report attacks official guidance on low-fat diets

Monday May 23 2016

"Low-fat diet bad for your health and cutting back on meat, dairy and eggs a disastrous mistake," the Daily Mirror reports. That is the main message of a controversial report attacking official UK guidelines on diet and weight loss…

Healthier lifestyles 'could cut cancer death rates'

Friday May 20 2016

"Half of all cancer deaths could be avoided if people simply adopted a healthier lifestyle," the Daily Mail reports. A new study adds to the weight of evidence that says combining simple lifestyle changes can dramatically…

Review calls for global action to tackle antibiotic resistance crisis

Friday May 20 2016

"Superbugs will kill someone every three seconds by 2050 unless the world acts now," BBC News reports. A review commissioned by the UK government says wide-ranging action is required at a global level to prevent a post-antibiotic future…

Study: 'mini strokes should be treated immediately with aspirin'

Thursday May 19 2016

"People should consider taking aspirin immediately after a minor stroke," BBC News reports. A review of existing evidence found people treated with aspirin after a mini stroke (transient ischaemic attack, or TIA)…

Magic mushroom ingredient tested as depression treatment

Wednesday May 18 2016

"Magic mushrooms 'promising' in depression," BBC News reports. Magic mushrooms is an umbrella term for fungi that contain psilocybin. This is a psychoactive substance that can cause intense LSD-like…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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