Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Spicy food 'curries favour' with alpha males

Monday Dec 15 2014

'Alpha males' like spicy foods, study suggests

“Men who like spicier food are 'alpha males' with higher levels of testosterone,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A small French study found an association between a preference for spicy foods and elevated testosterone levels…

Could a '10 to 6' working day help you sleep better?

Friday Dec 12 2014

Should the working day be '10 to 6'; not '9 to 5'?

A major new study of American workers has recommended “later start times to improve on health,” the Mail Online reports. To improve people’s sleep patterns the research team suggested work start times could be moved later, such as 10am...

Memory gaps in graduates a 'stroke warning sign'

Friday Dec 12 2014

Memory gaps in educated 'stroke warning sign'

“People with memory problems who have a university education could be at greater risk of a stroke,” BBC News reports. The hypothesis is that the gaps in memory could be the result of reduced blood flow to the brain, which may then trigger a stroke…

Almost half of all adults take prescription drugs

Thursday Dec 11 2014

Almost half of all adults take prescription drugs

“Half of women and 43% of men in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs,” BBC News reports. The figures have come to light as part of a new survey into drug prescribing patterns…

Food additive could reduce appetite

Thursday Dec 11 2014

Food additive could reduce appetite, prevent obesity

"Appetite suppressing additive could be added to food to create 'slimming bread'," ITV News reports. A compound called inulin-propionate ester is thought to stimulate the production of appetite suppressing hormones, making people feel full-up…

Gene therapy could help with inherited blindness

Wednesday Dec 10 2014

Gene therapy may help with inherited blindness

"Procedure to restore sight in dogs gives hope for future blindness cure," The Independent reports. Researchers have restored some modest degree of light sensitivity (though not full vision) in animals who have a similar condition…

Academic hype 'distorting' health news

Wednesday Dec 10 2014

Academic hype 'distorting' health news

"Science and health news hype: where does it come from?," The Guardian asks. A new study suggests a lot of the hype comes from academics themselves, or at least their press offices, as many press releases contain exaggerations…

Around 1 in 10 maternal deaths due to flu

Tuesday Dec 9 2014

Around 1 in 10 maternal deaths caused by flu

“Nearly one in ten pregnant deaths caused by flu,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A review into maternal deaths, which thankfully remain rare, found that conditions such as the flu and sepsis account for many of the deaths...

Hopes for chemicals that turn 'bad' fat 'good'

Tuesday Dec 9 2014

Hopes for a compound that turns 'bad' fat 'good'

"Scientists discovered how to trigger a molecule which can turn 'bad' white fat cells into 'good' energy-burning brown fat cells," The Daily Telegraph reports, saying that it could "replace the treadmill". But this proof of concept lab research…

Lack of sleep linked to negative thinking

Monday Dec 8 2014

Lack of sleep linked to negative thinking

“Feeling anxious? Go to bed earlier: Getting more sleep really can calm the mind,” reports the Mail Online. However, if you’re more of a ‘glass half-empty’ sort of person, the headline could have read “feeling anxious affects your sleep”…

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

Your NHS Health Check

Millions of people have already had their free "midlife MOT". Find out why this health check-up is so important

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...