Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

People with autism are 'dying younger,' warns study

Monday Mar 21 2016

"People with autism are dying earlier than the general population," BBC News reports. A recent study in Sweden showed the average age of death for a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is 54 years, compared with 70 for matched controls…

Memories 'taken' by Alzheimer's could possibly be retrieved

Thursday Mar 17 2016

"Memories wiped by Alzheimer's could be revived, research suggests," The Daily Telegraph reports. Research involving mice suggests memories are not destroyed by Alzheimer's disease – rather, there are difficulties recalling them…

Gum disease linked to worsening dementia symptoms

Friday Mar 11 2016

"How brushing your teeth properly can ward of the symptoms of dementia," is the misleading headline in the Daily Mail. In the study reported on, all the participants had dementia. The researchers wanted to see if gum disease made symptoms worse…

Brain scans used to see if Facebook is addictive

Thursday Feb 18 2016

"Facebook has a similar effect on your brain as cocaine," the Daily Mail reports. Brain scans found that students exposed to images associated with Facebook had patterns of neural activity also seen in people with substance or gambling addictions…

Evidence of link between Zika virus and birth defect 'boosted'

Thursday Feb 18 2016

"Brazilian study boosts theory that Zika causes birth defect," The Guardian reports. Researchers have detected the virus in amniotic fluid surrounding two unborn babies known to have abnormally small heads (microcephaly)…

Link between indigestion drugs and dementia 'inconclusive'

Tuesday Feb 16 2016

"Indigestion pills taken by millions 'could raise the risk of dementia by 50%'," the Daily Mail reports. A German study found a link between the proton pump inhibitor class of drugs and an increased risk of dementia in the elderly…

Alzheimer's disease 'wonder drug' claims are premature

Monday Feb 15 2016

"Millions could be offered wonder drug to prevent Alzheimer's before symptoms appear," is the overhyped headline in the Daily Express. The "wonder drug" bexarotene has only been tested in worms as part of this latest Alzheimer's research…

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…

'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…

Weight loss in middle age: A warning sign of dementia?

Wednesday Feb 3 2016

"How losing weight in middle age 'could be a sign of dementia'," the Daily Mail reports. A US study suggests there is an association between middle-age weight change and risk of mild cognitive impairment – which can be an early sign of dementia…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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