Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

People with 'obesity gene' can still lose weight

Wednesday Sep 21 2016

"No excuses not to slim as 'fat gene' found not to affect ability to lose weight," reports The Daily Telegraph. It is one of several news outlets to report on research suggesting people who put on weight easily because of a genetic variant…

Could fertility breakthrough lead to babies with no mothers?

Thursday Sep 15 2016

"Fertility breakthrough means babies could be conceived from skin cells – so men can have babies with each other," is the excitable headline in the Daily Mirror. But the research in the news is at an early stage – and was in mice…

Targeting 'addiction switch' may help combat alcohol addiction

Wednesday Aug 31 2016

"Alcoholics are missing 'vital chemical in their brain' that helps control addiction," the Daily Express reports. Research carried out on rats suggests that low levels of the PRDM2 enzyme could trigger self-destructive addictive behaviour…

Gene scanning 'could improve screening for oesophageal cancer'

Monday Aug 22 2016

"Simple test can now reveal which heartburn patients are at risk of oesophageal cancer," is the hopeful headline in the Daily Mail, reporting on a new study from researchers at Queen Mary University of London…

'Secret ginger gene' may increase skin cancer risk for millions

Wednesday Jul 13 2016

"People can carry a 'silent' red hair gene that raises their risk of sun-related skin cancer, experts warn," BBC News reports. Research suggests that carrying just one copy of a variant of the MC1R gene (having two copies causes red hair) increases…

1 in 8 advanced prostate cancers may be linked to faulty genes

Friday Jul 8 2016

"Nearly one in eight men who develop [advanced] prostate cancer carry mutations in genes which repair damage to DNA," The Daily Telegraph reports. One of the difficulties in detecting and treating prostate cancer…

Broccoli compounds may help combat chronic diseases

Friday Jun 24 2016

"Eating broccoli could lower your risk of having coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, a new study suggests," the Daily Mail reports. But there is little hard evidence to back up...

Risky stem cell treatment 'halts progress of multiple sclerosis'

Friday Jun 10 2016

"New treatment can 'halt' multiple sclerosis, says study," BBC News reports. The treatment involves effectively destroying the existing immune system and creating a new one using stem cells. But this new treatment…

'Friendly' virus repairs damaged liver cells (but only in mice)

Friday Jun 3 2016

"Have scientists found a cure for alcoholism?," the Mail Online asks, missing the point of the research entirely. Researchers were able to improve liver damage in mice. But this does not amount to curing an addiction to alcohol…

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…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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