Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Home HIV testing kits now legal in UK

Thursday Apr 10 2014

Home HIV testing kits now legal in UK

“Kits allowing people to test themselves for HIV at home can be bought over the counter in the UK for the first time,” BBC News recently reported. The UK government has amended the law so “do it yourself” home testing kits…

Does paying drug users boost hep B jab uptake?

Wednesday Apr 9 2014

Cash incentives for drug users boosts hepatitis B jab uptake

"Heroin addicts are being 'bribed' with £30 in shopping vouchers for agreeing to undergo vaccinations," The Daily Telegraph reports, while the Daily Mail said addicts were to get a "£10 supermarket 'bribe' to stay clear of…

Painkiller use linked to irregular heartbeat

Wednesday Apr 9 2014

Painkiller use linked to irregular heartbeat

“Painkillers used by millions of Britons have been linked to higher risk of an irregular heartbeat that could trigger a stroke,” the Mail Online reports.

Could a blood test be used to detect lung cancer?

Tuesday Apr 8 2014

Could ultrasensitive blood test detect lung cancer?

"Simple blood test could soon diagnose if patient has cancer and how advanced it is," reports the Mail Online. But this is a rather premature headline given the early stage of the research that the news is based on...

Incorrect claims gambling is caused by brain damage

Tuesday Apr 8 2014

Gambling can be addictive

“The gambler’s fallacy explained? Misguided belief in the big win just around the corner could be down to brain damage,” The Independent incorrectly reported. The news is based on a small experimental study...

Milk may slow progression of knee osteoarthritis

Monday Apr 7 2014

Milk may slow progression of arthritis

"Milk could be the key to beating crippling arthritis," reports the Daily Express, while the Daily Mail adds that, "A glass of milk a day keeps arthritis at bay". Both headlines are potentially misleading. The study the…

Teen boy sunbed use linked to eating disorders

Monday Apr 7 2014

Teen boy sunbed use linked to eating disorders

'Teenage men who regularly use sunbeds are more prone to eating disorders' the Metro reports. A study finds that teen tanning fans are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviour such as using laxatives and vomiting after meals…

Review recommends plain cigarette packs

Friday Apr 4 2014

Review recommends plain cigarette packs

“The government has announced its support for the introduction of standardised cigarette packets, following a review,” BBC News reports. The review concludes that plain packaging would have a positive impact on public health.

Is frequent mouthwash use linked to oral cancer?

Friday Apr 4 2014

Frequent mouthwash use may be linked to oral cancer

"Experts warn using mouthwash more than twice a day can give you cancer," the Daily Mirror reports. The news comes from a European study that compared the oral health and dental hygiene of 1,963 people diagnosed with cancers of the mouth, throat…

Vegetarians have 'poorer quality of life' study claims

Friday Apr 4 2014

Vegetarians have 'poorer quality of life' study claims

“Vegetarians are 'less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters’,'' The Independent reports. A study from Austria suggests there is an association between a vegetarian diet and an increased risk of certain chronic diseases…

Probiotics

Many health claims are made for probiotics. Find out when they might help and when to be sceptical

Call to make 5 a day fruit and veg into '7 a day'

Recent research suggests that eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease and cancer. Should we all be eating more?

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

Alcohol, myths and the media

Can lager help you live longer? Can wine help you lose weight? We take a sober look at the media’s claims about alcohol, and what the science actually says

LifeCheck

Take a LifeCheck

A few moments spent now could add years to your life

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...