Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Could a 30-minute 'power nap' make up for a bad night's sleep?

Thursday Feb 12 2015

A 30-minute 'power nap' could make up for a bad night's sleep

"Indulging in a power nap can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep," the Daily Mail reports. But the study that prompted the headline is very small – involving just 11 healthy young men…

Long-term smoking 'may cause' brain shrinkage

Thursday Feb 12 2015

Long-term smoking 'may cause' brain damage

“Smokers have thinner brain cortex and could have impaired thinking,” The Independent reports. MRI scans of long-term smokers show signs that the cerebral cortex – the grey matter of the brain – which plays a key role in…

Obesity damage to eggs may be reversible

Wednesday Feb 11 2015

Obesity damages women’s eggs, effect may be reversible

"Damaging effect of obesity on a woman’s eggs can now be reversed," is the misleading headline from the Mail Online today. The over-egged headline refers to a mouse, not human, study looking at obesity and fertility…

Unemployment and job insecurity linked to increased risk of suicide

Wednesday Feb 11 2015

Unemployment and job insecurity linked to increased risk of suicide

“Unemployment causes 45,000 suicides a year worldwide,” The Guardian reports. The story comes from a study that looked at the association between suicide rates and unemployment in 63 countries across the world…

'Smart insulin' could be used to treat type 1 diabetes

Tuesday Feb 10 2015

'Smart insulin' could be used to treat type 1 diabetes

"Diabetes patients could be spared the burden of constantly monitoring blood sugar levels, after scientists have developed a 'smart' form of insulin," The Guardian reports. A modified form of insulin, only tested in mice, shows promise…

1980s fat guidelines 'lacked evidence,' study argues

Tuesday Feb 10 2015

1980s fat guidelines 'lacked evidence,' study argues

"Butter isn't bad for you after all: Major study says 80s advice on dairy fats was flawed," is the headline on the front of the Daily Mail as a new study argues dietary fat guidelines introduced in the 1980s lacked a rigorous evidence base…

Do men have greater chewing power than women?

Monday Feb 9 2015

'Wolf all' – men may be bigger 'munchers' than women

"Why men wolf down their meals while women take their time: The sexes have different chewing patterns," the Mail Online reports after a Korean study found men had "greater eating power" than women…

Type 1 diabetes 'more dangerous' in women

Monday Feb 9 2015

Type 1 diabetes 'more deadly' for women study suggests

"Type 1 diabetes is more dangerous for women than men, study finds,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A large review found gender inequality in overall deaths among people with type 1 diabetes, and also deaths due to heart disease...

Finger length 'not a pointer' for future sexual behaviour

Friday Feb 6 2015

Finger length 'not a pointer' for future sexual behaviour

"How to work out if your partner is cheating on you? Check their fingers," the Daily Mirror advises. The news comes from research founded on the theory that humans are believed to display two types of mating pattern…

Flu jab is not a 'waste of time'

Friday Feb 6 2015

Flu jab is not a 'waste of time'

“Flu jab given to millions is 'useless',” and "Flu jab is a waste of time," are the irresponsible headlines in The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail…

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...