Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

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…

'Secret ginger gene' may increase skin cancer risk for millions

Wednesday Jul 13 2016

"People can carry a 'silent' red hair gene that raises their risk of sun-related skin cancer, experts warn," BBC News reports. Research suggests that carrying just one copy of a variant of the MC1R gene (having two copies causes red hair) increases…

1 in 8 advanced prostate cancers may be linked to faulty genes

Friday Jul 8 2016

"Nearly one in eight men who develop [advanced] prostate cancer carry mutations in genes which repair damage to DNA," The Daily Telegraph reports. One of the difficulties in detecting and treating prostate cancer…

Broccoli compounds may help combat chronic diseases

Friday Jun 24 2016

"Eating broccoli could lower your risk of having coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, a new study suggests," the Daily Mail reports. But there is little hard evidence to back up...

Risky stem cell treatment 'halts progress of multiple sclerosis'

Friday Jun 10 2016

"New treatment can 'halt' multiple sclerosis, says study," BBC News reports. The treatment involves effectively destroying the existing immune system and creating a new one using stem cells. But this new treatment…

'Friendly' virus repairs damaged liver cells (but only in mice)

Friday Jun 3 2016

"Have scientists found a cure for alcoholism?," the Mail Online asks, missing the point of the research entirely. Researchers were able to improve liver damage in mice. But this does not amount to curing an addiction to alcohol…

Could cannabis damage DNA that is then passed down generations?

Thursday May 26 2016

"Smoking cannabis can alter a person's DNA, causing mutations that expose a user to serious illnesses," the Mail Online reports. A new review has looked at the role cannabis may play in what is known as chromothripsis…

Dad's age, diet and lifestyle may cause birth defects

Monday May 16 2016

"Men are being warned to become fathers by 40 or face a greater risk of having children with serious illnesses," the Daily Mail reports after a new review looked at some of the evidence about paternal influences on the risk of childhood diseases…

Gene breakthrough promises 'bespoke' breast cancer treatment

Tuesday May 3 2016

"Breast cancer treatment breakthrough after 'milestone' genetic discovery," says The Independent, about widely reported research investigating genetic mutations in people with breast cancer...

Mystery of the 13 people with 'superhero DNA'

Tuesday Apr 12 2016

"Some people appear to be born with 'superhero DNA' that cancels out genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis," BBC News reports. A major study of over 500,000 people found 13 people who should have developed serious genetic conditions, but didn’t...

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What is Behind the Headlines?

We give you the facts without the fiction. Professor Sir Muir Gray, founder of Behind the Headlines, explains more...

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