Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Why you should drink (water) before you drive

Monday Apr 20 2015

Why you should drink before you drive (water, that is)

"Not drinking enough water has same effect as drink driving," The Daily Telegraph reports. A small study found participants made more mistakes on a driving simulator task when they were mildly dehydrated than when they had plenty of fluids…

There are six different types of obesity, study argues

Monday Apr 20 2015

There are six different types of obesity, study argues

"Researchers have identified six 'types' of obese person," The Independent reports. It's argued that each type would benefit from a targeted treatment programme for obesity, rather than a "one-size-fits-all" approach…

Study doesn't prove e-cigs make quitting smoking harder

Friday Apr 17 2015

Man using e-cigarette

"E-cigs don’t help smokers quit fags - in fact they make it harder to stop," the Daily Mirror reports, apparently turning on its head the common view that using e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking conventional cigarettes...

Discovery could 'boost immune system's cancer fighting ability'

Friday Apr 17 2015

A lab mouse, typical of those used in research

The media is awash with news of a breakthrough that is "turbocharging the immune system to kill all cancers" (The Daily Telegraph) and a "game-changing new way to fight cancer" (The Independent)...

Does happiness have a smell and is it contagious?

Thursday Apr 16 2015

Does happiness have a smell and is it contagious?

"Humans can smell when other people are happy, researchers discover," The Independent reports; somewhat over-enthusiastically. In a new study, Dutch researchers investigated where happiness could be "spread" to others…

Middle age 'starts at 60' claims media

Thursday Apr 16 2015

'40 is the new 60' – middle age begins later in life now

"Middle age begins at 60, say researchers," The Times reports. A new population modelling study estimates that due to increased lifespan, what was once regarded as elderly should be seen as middle-aged, and this trend will continue into the future…

DNA changes in sperm may help explain autism

Wednesday Apr 15 2015

DNA changes in sperm may trigger autism

"DNA changes could explain why autism runs in families, according to study," The Independent reports. Research suggests a set of changes in a father's DNA – known as methylation – is linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their offspring…

Paracetamol may blunt feelings of pleasure as well as pain

Wednesday Apr 15 2015

Paracetamol may blunt feelings of pleasure as well as pain

"Paracetamol may dull emotions as well as physical pain, new study shows'," The Guardian reports. The story comes from research testing whether over-the-counter painkiller paracetamol can blunt not just the feeling of pain but also emotions…

No proof that bad relationships raise blood pressure

Tuesday Apr 14 2015

A stressful marriage could be bad for your blood pressure

"If you have ever blamed your partner for making your blood boil, a new study could be the evidence you need to prove it's true," Mail Online reports. But the association between stress and blood pressure is much less clear-cut than the Mail suggests…

Breath test shows promise in diagnosing stomach cancer

Tuesday Apr 14 2015

Breath test shows promise in diagnosing stomach cancer

"A simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer," BBC News reports. The test is designed to detect a distinctive pattern of chemicals associated with the cancer…

Miracle cure or scam?

Will an online miracle cure really provide the answer to your health problem?

Health anxiety (hypochondria)

Most of us worry about our health from time to time. But for some people, this worry never goes away and becomes a problem in itself

Stem cell research in the news

Stem cells are often portrayed in the media as a miracle cure for many serious conditions and disabilities. We analyse the facts behind these stories

Miracle Foods: myths and the media

Can a curry save your life? Read our report on the supposed health benefits of common foods

Video: the placebo effect

Watch Ben Goldacre explain what the placebo effect is and describes its role in medical research and in the pharmaceutical industry

How to read health news

How to read health news

Fact or fiction? Killer or cure? We show you how to look Behind the Headlines.

What is Behind the Headlines?

What is Behind the Headlines?

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