Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Mobile phone use 'linked to poor sperm quality'

Monday Feb 22 2016

"Men who talk on their mobile phones for an hour a day 'are twice as likely to have low sperm quality'," the Daily Mail reports. Is the use of smartphones damaging men's sperm? The quick answer, based on the results of this study, is we don't know...

New blood test can detect a range of inherited heart conditions

Friday Feb 19 2016

"A new blood test could help diagnose people with inherited heart conditions," BBC News reports. Inherited heart conditions affect around 1% of the population, and can disrupt the normal functioning of the heart – sometimes with fatal results…

Brain scans used to see if Facebook is addictive

Thursday Feb 18 2016

"Facebook has a similar effect on your brain as cocaine," the Daily Mail reports. Brain scans found that students exposed to images associated with Facebook had patterns of neural activity also seen in people with substance or gambling addictions…

Evidence of link between Zika virus and birth defect 'boosted'

Thursday Feb 18 2016

"Brazilian study boosts theory that Zika causes birth defect," The Guardian reports. Researchers have detected the virus in amniotic fluid surrounding two unborn babies known to have abnormally small heads (microcephaly)…

Organic milk 'is healthier' than conventional milk, study says

Wednesday Feb 17 2016

"Organic meat and milk could offer health benefits, study suggests," The Guardian reports. The news is the conclusion of two reviews looking at the available evidence on the potential benefits of organic meat and milk…

Link between indigestion drugs and dementia 'inconclusive'

Tuesday Feb 16 2016

"Indigestion pills taken by millions 'could raise the risk of dementia by 50%'," the Daily Mail reports. A German study found a link between the proton pump inhibitor class of drugs and an increased risk of dementia in the elderly…

Alzheimer's disease 'wonder drug' claims are premature

Monday Feb 15 2016

"Millions could be offered wonder drug to prevent Alzheimer's before symptoms appear," is the overhyped headline in the Daily Express. The "wonder drug" bexarotene has only been tested in worms as part of this latest Alzheimer's research…

Iron tablets may damage DNA

Friday Feb 12 2016

"Iron tablets taken by millions of people could damage the body within just 10 minutes," the Mail Online reports; somewhat over-dramatically. A study looking at cell samples in a lab, and not actual humans, did find some evidence of damage to DNA…

Exercise in middle-age 'stops your brain shrinking'

Thursday Feb 11 2016

"A new study has suggested that exercising in your 40s could stop the brain shrinking," The Daily Telegraph reports. A study found people with good fitness levels in their 40s had larger brains than their unfit peers when measured 20 years later…

Scientists look at what puts the 'junk' into junk foods

Thursday Feb 11 2016

"Scientists say they have cracked what makes processed foods… harmful," the Daily Mail reports. A small study suggests processed foods are high in "PAMPs" – pathogen-associated molecular patterns – which are molecules that trigger inflammation…

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%