Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Combined HRT breast cancer risk 'may have been underestimated'

Tuesday Aug 23 2016

"Women who take a common form of HRT are nearly three times as likely to get breast cancer, a major study has found," the Daily Mail reports. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to relieve symptoms of the…

Gene scanning 'could improve screening for oesophageal cancer'

Monday Aug 22 2016

"Simple test can now reveal which heartburn patients are at risk of oesophageal cancer," is the hopeful headline in the Daily Mail, reporting on a new study from researchers at Queen Mary University of London…

Animal research suggests Zika could affect the adult brain

Friday Aug 19 2016

"Zika virus may cause long-term memory damage, similar to Alzheimer's disease," The Daily Telegraph reports. At the moment such a claim is pure speculation as it is based on research into mice…

Perfect painkiller? Safe alternative to opiates may have been found

Friday Aug 19 2016

The Independent has claimed: "Scientists discover what could be a 'perfect' painkiller without side effects". Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine are extremely effective in relieving pain. The problem is that they are also addictive…

Calcium supplements linked to post-stroke dementia in women

Thursday Aug 18 2016

"Calcium supplements could dramatically raise the risk of dementia in women who suffer a stroke, a new study found," the Mail Online reports. However, the sample size (98) of women taking supplements was small, which casts doubts…

Women's cancer risk may increase the longer they're obese

Wednesday Aug 17 2016

"Fat women who refuse to diet 'are more likely to get cancer'," states the Mail Online, using a headline that is both inaccurate and offensive. The study it reports on looked at the relationship between weight during adulthood, and cancer risk…

Does time of day influence our susceptibility to infection?

Tuesday Aug 16 2016

"Viruses more dangerous in the morning," BBC News reports, but The Telegraph tells us that "the evening commute is worse for health". So who's right? It depends if you're talking about mice or humans…

UK heart disease and stroke death rates now lower than cancer

Monday Aug 15 2016

"Heart disease deaths now lower than cancer – but obesity crisis means this may not last," the Daily Mirror reports. A major review of European trends in cardiovascular disease deaths found that UK cancer deaths overtook cardiovascular deaths in 2014…

A baby's gut bacteria 'could influence allergy risk'

Saturday Aug 13 2016

"Feeding infants good bacteria 'can slash their risk of getting asthma'," is the Mail Online's entirely speculative headline. The study the news comes from did find a link between certain patterns of gut bacteria and fungi…

Virtual reality helped improve nerve function in paralysed people

Friday Aug 12 2016

"Virtual reality has helped eight paralysed patients regain some feeling in their legs in 'a big surprise'," Sky News reports. Researchers using virtual reality (VR) combined with a robotic exoskeleton were surprised to find participants…

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

Miracle foods: myths and the media

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

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...

Sugar intake should be reduced

Sugar intake should be drastically reduced, says report

A new government report recommends no more than 5% of our calorie intake should come from 'free sugars'. The previous recommendation was 10%