Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

'Contaminated air' on planes linked to health problems

Wednesday Jun 21 2017

"Toxic fumes in aircraft cabins could cause serious health problems, scientists warn:" reports The Sun. This is based on a UK study investigating air contamination on aircraft and its possible effects on the health of pilots and cabin crew…

Even moderate drinking may damage the brain

Wednesday Jun 7 2017

"Even moderate drinking can damage the brain," The Guardian reports. A new study, involving brain scans and cognitive testing, suggests that moderate drinking, over many years, could damage areas of the brain linked to memory…

Cold water 'just as good as hot' for handwashing

Thursday Jun 1 2017

"Antibacterial handwash is NO better than soap – and cold water kills as many germs as hot, experts claim," The Sun reports. These were the main findings of a study looking at various methods of handwashing. But the researchers only tested…

Parents' phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems

Wednesday May 31 2017

"Is our smartphone addiction damaging our children?," The Guardian asks, after publication of a recent study into "technoference" – when people switch their attention away from others to check their phone or tablet…

Fitness trackers' calorie measurements are prone to error

Friday May 26 2017

"Fitness trackers out of step when measuring calories, research shows," The Guardian reports. An independent analysis of a number of leading brands found they were all prone to inaccurate recording of energy expenditure…

Does meditation carry a risk of harmful side effects?

Friday May 26 2017

"Meditation can leave you feeling even more stressed," the Daily Mail reports. The claim is prompted by a study of 60 practitioners of Buddhist meditation in the US which found they'd had a range of "challenging or difficult" experiences…

Instagram 'ranked worst for mental health' in teen survey

Friday May 19 2017

"Instagram is rated as the worst social media platform when it comes to its impact on young people's mental health, a UK survey suggests," BBC News reports. The survey asked 1,479 young people aged 14-24 to score popular social media…

Lack of sleep knocks your social appeal, says research

Wednesday May 17 2017

"A couple of bad nights is enough to make a person look 'significantly' more ugly," reports BBC News. Researchers in Sweden found people rated photographs of strangers as less attractive and healthy...

Yoga may bring long-term benefits for people with depression

Friday May 12 2017

"Yoga can ease depression symptoms, according to the largest study to ever investigate the link," the Mail Online reports. The study didn't find any benefits from doing yoga at the end of the 10-week study period…

Binge drinking could trigger abnormal heart rhythms

Thursday Apr 27 2017

"Why Oktoberfest could be damaging your heart" is the somewhat strange headline in The Times. Researchers who attended the annual Bavarian beer and folk festival found binge drinkers were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythm patterns…

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