Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Caution urged over CT scan radiation doses

Friday Aug 15 2014

Patients receive a dose of radiation during a CT scan

BBC News reports on a sharp rise in the number of CT scans being performed, exposing people to the potential health risks of radiation. However, as The Daily Telegraph says, it is not possible to calculate the cancer risk...

Macmillan finds cancer survival 'postcode lottery'

Friday Aug 15 2014

Tower blocks in Dagenham: the area has one of the worst cancer survival rates

"Cancer postcode lottery 'costs 6,000 lives a year'," reports The Times. This, and similar headlines, are based on cancer survival figures compiled by Macmillan Cancer Support...

High-salt diet linked to 1.6 million heart deaths

Thursday Aug 14 2014

Too much salt in the diet is believed to cause cardiovascular disease

"Salty diet 'causes 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year'," reports The Daily Telegraph. It goes on to quote a researcher saying this is "nearly 1 in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide". This scary-sounding headline...

Is UK obesity fuelling an increase in 10 cancers?

Thursday Aug 14 2014

Obesity is known to be associated with increased risk of cancer

"Being overweight and obese puts people at greater risk of developing 10 of the most common cancers," reports BBC News. The news is based on research using information in UK GP records for over 5 million people...

Salt injections: not a cure for cancer

Wednesday Aug 13 2014

It's unwise to inject yourself with table salt

"Salt injection 'kills cancer cells' by causing them to self-destruct," reports the Mail Online. Despite this headline, there is no new treatment for cancer using salt...

Anti-obesity drugs 'may still work in middle-age'

Wednesday Aug 13 2014

Middle-age spread is best dealt with by eating less and getting more exercise

“Drug to halt the dreaded spread of middle age,” reports The Daily Telegraph, with similar headlines on the Daily Express and Daily Mail websites. However, these claims are rather premature given the research they’re based on anti-obesity drugs...

Growth of newborn babies' brains tracked

Tuesday Aug 12 2014

Babies brains grow 65% in their first 90 days, research suggests

"Scans chart how quickly babies' brains grow," reports BBC News Online. The headline follows a fascinating study that shows newborn babies' brains are about a third the size of an adult's at birth, and rapidly grow...

Toothbrushing advice 'conflicting'

Tuesday Aug 12 2014

Tooth brushing: research has identified at least 6 different methods

"Teeth-brushing advice unacceptably inconsistent," reports The Guardian, while the Mail Online reveals that a "simple, gentle scrub is best". These headlines relate to a small literature review that found...

Exercise may cut breast cancer risk, study finds

Monday Aug 11 2014

Breast cancer: you can take action to change your risk

"Exercise lowers risk of breast cancer after menopause," reports The Independent. This and similar headlines were sparked by a large study of postmenopausal teachers which found...

'Safe' stem cell therapy may help stroke recovery

Monday Aug 11 2014

Stem cells: providing hope in many therapeutic areas

BBC Online today reports that "Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery". This accurate headline comes from a study showing how a new technique using a patient's own stem cells...

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...