Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Did the English smoking ban stop 90,000 children getting ill?

Friday May 29 2015

Smoking was banned in all public places in England in 2007

"90,000 children spared illness by smoking ban," reports the Daily Mail. This impressive-seeming statistic is based on research looking at how many under-14s ended up in hospital with respiratory infections in the years...

Media reckons science now proves 'carbs' are fine again

Friday May 29 2015

Reading newspapers can lead to confusion about the best diet choices

"Eat more 'good' carbohydrates and less protein for a longer life," reports the Daily Mirror. It seems like only last week that the media was advising us to eat less carbohydrates. The reality is...

Is gut bacteria responsible for the 'terrible twos' in toddlers?

Thursday May 28 2015

Is gut bacteria responsible for the 'terrible twos' in toddlers?

"Terrible twos?" asks the Mail Online, going on to say that, "the bacteria in your child's gut may be to blame for their bad behaviour". The story is based on research that showed links between the types of bacteria in stool samples from two-year-old…

New discovery about how breast cancer spreads into bones

Thursday May 28 2015

New discovery about how breast cancer spreads into bones

"Certain breast cancers spread to the bones using an enzyme that drills 'seed holes' for planting new tumours, research has shown," The Guardian reports. The hope is drugs currently available…

Modified herpes virus 'could combat skin cancer'

Wednesday May 27 2015

Modified herpes virus 'could combat skin cancer'

"Patients with aggressive skin cancer have been treated successfully using a drug based on the herpes virus," The Guardian reports. A new study suggests a novel form of immunotherapy could be effective for treating some cases of advanced skin cancer...

Combined contraceptive pills 'increase risk of blood clots'

Wednesday May 27 2015

Combined contraceptive pills 'increase risk of blood clots'

"Women who take the latest generation of contraceptive pills are at a greater risk of potentially lethal blood clots," The Times reports. Though while the increase in risk is statistically significant, it is very small in terms of individual risk…

Obesity in teen boys may increase bowel cancer risk in later life

Tuesday May 26 2015

Obesity in teen boys may increase bowel cancer risk in later life

"Teenage boys who become very obese may double their risk of getting bowel cancer by the time they are in their 50s," The Guardian reports. A Swedish study found a strong association between teenage obesity and bowel cancer risk in later adulthood…

Traffic and aircraft noise linked to bigger bellies

Tuesday May 26 2015

Traffic and aircraft noise exposure linked to bigger bellies

"Living near a main road causes people to gain weight with the risk of obesity," is the slightly dubious claim in The Daily Telegraph. While a Swedish study did find an association between noise pollution and obesity, cause and effect has not been proved…

Holidays and parties mean we may drink more than we think

Friday May 22 2015

Holidays and parties mean we may drink more than we think

"The amount of alcohol people in England drink has been underestimated by the equivalent of 12 million bottles of wine a week," BBC News reports…

Quarter of sun-exposed skin samples had DNA mutations

Friday May 22 2015

Quarter of sun-exposed skin samples had DNA mutations

A sobering BBC News headline greets sun worshippers on the eve of the spring bank holiday: "More than a quarter of a middle-aged person's skin may have already made the first steps towards cancer"…

Miracle cure or scam?

Will an online miracle cure really provide the answer to your health problem?

Health anxiety (hypochondria)

Most of us worry about our health from time to time. But for some people, this worry never goes away and becomes a problem in itself

Stem cell research in the news

Stem cells are often portrayed in the media as a miracle cure for many serious conditions and disabilities. We analyse the facts behind these stories

Miracle Foods: myths and the media

Can a curry save your life? Read our report on the supposed health benefits of common foods

Video: the placebo effect

Watch Ben Goldacre explain what the placebo effect is and describes its role in medical research and in the pharmaceutical industry

How to read health news

How to read health news

Fact or fiction? Killer or cure? We show you how to look Behind the Headlines.

What is Behind the Headlines?

What is Behind the Headlines?

We give you the facts without the fiction. Professor Sir Muir Gray, founder of Behind the Headlines, explains more...