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Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Is incense smoke more dangerous than tobacco smoke?

Wednesday Aug 26 2015

Is incense smoke more dangerous than tobacco smoke?

"Incense may need a health warning over 'toxic' smoke, claims research," The Daily Telegraph reports. Analysis of incense smoke, used in both western and Asian religious ceremonies for possibly thousands of years, found it contains many chemicals...

Just one drink a day 'may raise breast cancer risk'

Thursday Aug 20 2015

Just one drink a day 'may raise breast cancer risk'

"Just one drink a day raises breast cancer risk" is the front page headline in the Daily Mail following the results of a new study. While the health risks of heavy drinking are well established, the effects of light drinking are less clear…

Aspirin lowers risk of hereditary bowel cancer in obese people

Tuesday Aug 18 2015

Obesity raises risk of hereditary bowel cancer; aspirin lowers it

"A daily aspirin may slash bowel cancer risk for the obese," the Daily Mail reports. But the headline fails to make it clear that this latest research didn't involve people in the general public who were obese…

Contraceptive pill 'cuts womb cancer risk'

Friday Aug 7 2015

Research suggests potentially important health benefits from the Pill

"The pill cuts womb cancer cases by 200,000," the Sky News website reports, in an uncommon example of a credible headline figure. However, it should be noted that it refers to the amount of endometrial cancer cases prevented over 10 years...

New 'iClusters' identify five subtypes of prostate cancer

Friday Jul 31 2015

New 'iClusters' identify five subtypes of prostate cancer

"Scientists have identified five types of prostate cancer, each with a distinct genetic signature," BBC News reports. The hope is that recognising the genetic signature of a specific cancer could lead to targeted treatments...

Night shifts 'linked to increased breast cancer risk'

Tuesday Jul 21 2015

Night-shift working linked to increased breast cancer risk

"Irregular sleeping patterns have been 'unequivocally' shown to lead to [breast] cancer in tests on mice, a study suggests," BBC News reports. Scientists are concerned a similar effect may occur in women working night shifts…

Researchers identify protein that spreads cancer

Tuesday Jul 14 2015

Researchers identify deadly 'cancer spreader' molecule

"Scientists have found a way of preventing the spread of cancer from the site of the original tumour," The Independent reports. Targeting proteins called DNA-PKcs could prevent cancer cells moving to other…

Orange juice and grapefruit linked to melanoma skin cancer

Wednesday Jul 1 2015

Orange juice and grapefruits linked to melanoma skin cancer

"Drinking a glass of orange juice or eating a fresh grapefruit for breakfast may increase the risk of skin cancer," the Mail Online reports. A US study did find a small increase in the risk of melanoma, but the benefits of unsweetened fruit juice…

Everyday chemicals may contribute to cancer risk

Thursday Jun 25 2015

No evidence that 'cocktail of everyday chemicals' cause cancer

'Fifty everyday chemicals…could be combining to increase our risk of cancer' the Mail Online reports. Researchers have identified 85 chemicals which have the potential to cause cells to switch into 'cancer mode'...

Smoking causes half of all deaths in 12 different cancers

Thursday Jun 18 2015

Smoking causes half of all deaths in 12 different cancers

"Roughly half of deaths from 12 smoking-related cancers may be linked directly to cigarette use, a US study estimates," the Mail Online reports. Due to similar smoking rates, it is likely that a similar pattern exists in the UK…

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