Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Proof opiates are useful for chronic back pain 'lacking'

Tuesday May 24 2016

"Powerful painkillers doled out in their millions are ineffective against back pain," the Daily Mail reports. An Australian review found evidence for the effectiveness of opiate-based painkillers, such as tramadol and…

Are broken bones, loneliness and poor sleep really hidden killers?

Wednesday May 18 2016

"Revealed, the five hidden killers that could send you to an early grave," the Daily Mail reports. These "hidden killers" include loneliness and poor sleep. But this is a simplistic take on complex research…

No evidence probiotics are beneficial for healthy adults

Thursday May 12 2016

"Probiotic goods a 'waste of money' for healthy adults, research suggests," The Guardian reports. A new review of previously gathered data found no evidence that probiotics improved the balance of gut bacteria in healthy adults…

BMI categories may need adjusting, argue researchers

Wednesday May 11 2016

"Being overweight may not be as unhealthy as it was 40 years ago," BBC News reports. New research has found a body mass index (BMI) of 27 is linked to the lowest rate of death – but someone with a BMI of 27 is currently classed as being overweight...

33,000 deaths 'linked to failings in NHS heart attack care'

Tuesday May 10 2016

"Thousands of heart victims killed by poor care," claims the Daily Mail. A review of clinical data from the last 10 years in England and Wales looked at patients with a history of what are known as…

Warning issued over alarming rise in 'super-gonorrhoea' cases

Monday Apr 18 2016

"Doctors have expressed 'huge concern' that super-gonorrhoea has spread widely across England," BBC News reports. Public Health England issued the warning about the rise of a strain of gonorrhoea that has developed resistance to a widely used antibiotic…

Zika virus 'does cause birth defects'

Thursday Apr 14 2016

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … has confirmed that the Zika virus causes severe birth defects," BBC News reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that…

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...

Can concussion be tested for with a 'simple' blood test?

Tuesday Mar 29 2016

"A new blood test can detect a concussion up to a week after a head injury," the Daily Mail reports. The test involved checking for biomarkers, which are substances created by a specific biological condition or state…

Mindfulness may be effective for treating lower back pain

Wednesday Mar 23 2016

"Meditation could ease the agony of back pain, a study suggests," the Daily Mirror reports. A US study compared a technique called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) with usual care and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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