Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

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…

'Bionic spine' could pave the way for new paralysis treatments

Tuesday Feb 9 2016

"'Bionic spine' could enable paralysed patients to walk using subconscious thought," reports The Guardian. In a study using sheep, Australian researchers have developed a device that can record movement signals…

Weight loss in middle age: A warning sign of dementia?

Wednesday Feb 3 2016

"How losing weight in middle age 'could be a sign of dementia'," the Daily Mail reports. A US study suggests there is an association between middle-age weight change and risk of mild cognitive impairment – which can be an early sign of dementia…

New clues that Alzheimer’s may have been spread during surgery

Wednesday Jan 27 2016

"Researchers have reported a second case that suggest [sic] Alzheimer's can be transmitted during medical treatments," the Mail Online reports. Researchers carried out autopsies of seven people who died from Creutzfeld Jakob Disease…

'Autistic' monkeys created in controversial study

Tuesday Jan 26 2016

"Genetically modified (GM) monkeys that develop symptoms of autism have been created to help scientists discover treatments for the condition," The Guardian reports. Chinese researchers used gene editing techniques to create monkeys with autistic traits…

Playground equipment contains toxic levels of lead paint

Monday Jan 25 2016

"Paint on playground equipment has been found to contain high amounts of the toxin lead – up to 40 times recommended levels," BBC News reports. Researchers sampled levels at 26 playgrounds in the south of England…

NHS Health Checks 'prevented thousands of heart attacks'

Friday Jan 15 2016

"NHS Health Checks scheme hailed as 'remarkable success'," Pulse Magazine reports, while The Sun adds "GP quiz [is a] life saver". NHS Health Checks, introduced in 2009, are a kind of middle-aged health "MOT"…

Exercise is 'most effective' method of preventing lower back pain

Wednesday Jan 13 2016

"Exercise is the best medicine to banish back pain and stop people taking sick days," reports the Daily Mirror. While this may be true, the research in question did not look at treatments for existing back pain…

Targeting inflammation 'could help treat Alzheimer's disease'

Friday Jan 8 2016

"Blocking brain inflammation 'halts Alzheimer's disease'," BBC News reports. Mice with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease were given a drug that blocked the production of immune cells, which cause inflammation…

New theory about migraine triggers published

Tuesday Dec 22 2015

"Migraine breakthrough as scientists discover the process that triggers EVERY symptom - paving the way for a cure," the Daily Mail over-optimistically reports. While a new theory about the cause(s) of migraines is plausible, it is also unproven…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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