Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

'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…

Antidepressant use in pregnancy 'linked to childhood autism'

Tuesday Dec 15 2015

"Taking antidepressants during pregnancy almost doubles the risk of children developing autism," The Daily Telegraph reports. Researchers say it is possible that chemicals present in antidepressants could interfere with child development…

Molecule removed Alzheimer’s plaques from brains of mice

Wednesday Dec 9 2015

"A molecule can clear Alzheimer's plaques from the brains of mice and improve learning and memory, Korean scientists have found in early tests," BBC News reports. However, the Daily Express’s claim of a "wonder pill" are premature…

Scientists find gene that 'delays Alzheimer's'

Wednesday Dec 2 2015

Scientists have identified a genetic variation thought to delay the start of Alzheimer's disease, according to several media reports. The news is based on a study of 71 descendants of the same ancestral family in northern Colombia...

High-strength 'skunk' cannabis linked to brain changes

Friday Nov 27 2015

"Scientists warn smoking 'skunk' cannabis wrecks brains," The Sun reports, somewhat simplistically. A small study found some users of the high-strength skunk strain of cannabis had changes in nerve fibres in a specific part of the brain...

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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