Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

DNA changes in sperm may help explain autism

Wednesday Apr 15 2015

"DNA changes could explain why autism runs in families, according to study," The Independent reports. Research suggests a set of changes in a father's DNA – known as methylation – is linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their offspring…

Can plucking hairs stimulate new hair growth?

Friday Apr 10 2015

"Plucking hairs 'can make more grow'," BBC News reports, while the Daily Mail went as far as saying scientists have found "a cure for baldness". But before you all reach for your tweezers, this discovery was made in mice, not humans…

'Marathon men' make better sexual partners, media claims

Thursday Apr 9 2015

"Marathon runners are the best in bed," is the spurious claim in Metro. The headline is based on a study that only looked at long-distance runners’ finger ratios – said to be a marker for high testosterone levels – not reported partner satisfaction…

Short people may have an increased risk of heart disease

Thursday Apr 9 2015

"Shorter people at greater risk of heart disease, new research finds," reports The Guardian. It reports that a study of nearly 200,000 people has found that for every 2.5 inches (6.35cm) less in height…

New Down’s syndrome test more accurate than current screening

Thursday Apr 2 2015

"Blood test for Down's syndrome 'gives better results'," BBC News reports. The test, which is based on spotting fragments of "rogue DNA", achieved impressive results in a series of trials…

Autism-related genes linked to cognitive ability

Wednesday Mar 11 2015

"Autism is linked to higher intelligence," the Mail Online reports. A new study found evidence that certain genetic variations associated with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) were linked to greater cognitive ability in non-autistic individuals…

Gene testing could find those who would benefit most from statins

Wednesday Mar 4 2015

"Patients with the highest genetic risk of suffering a heart attack benefit the most from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, a study has found," The Guardian reports. Those with the highest genetic risk score appear to get the most benefit from the drugs…

MS stem cell treatment only a 'miracle' for some

Monday Mar 2 2015

The Daily Telegraph reports a "miracle" stem cell therapy that reverses multiple sclerosis, and which according to The Sunday Times gets "wheelchair-bound" people dancing...

Healthy older adults carry leukaemia mutations

Friday Feb 27 2015

"DNA develops to acquire genetic mutations linked with cancer as you get older," The Independent reports. A study of samples of blood cells found that DNA in older people began to acquire mutations associated with leukaemia…

Sunlight UV damage to skin persists even after dark

Friday Feb 20 2015

"Moving immediately into the shade does not stop sun damage, as UV rays can continue damaging skin cells hours after exposure," The Guardian reports. A study has found evidence that damage to DNA can continue after initial exposure…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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