Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Questions about life after death remain unanswered

Wednesday Oct 8 2014

Whether there’s life after death remains a mystery

“Life after death is a real phenomenon,” Metro reports – but the headline is pure hype. Researchers were actually looking at “near-death experiences” – a very different thing. Indeed, the research involved people who did not die…

Vaginal orgasm 'doesn't exist', researchers argue

Wednesday Oct 8 2014

Vaginal orgasm 'doesn't exist', researchers argue

"There is no such thing as a vaginal orgasm," says the Mail Online, in a story that suggests some women have been diagnosed with sexual disorders based on the "myth" that they can orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone…

Cannabis labelled 'harmful and as addictive as heroin'

Tuesday Oct 7 2014

The potential harms of cannabis may be under-recognised

"Cannabis: the terrible truth," is today's Daily Mail front page splash story. The paper cites the risks posed by cannabis – including a doubling of the risk of schizophrenia...

Eating with a fat friend 'makes you eat more'

Monday Oct 6 2014

Eating with a fat friend 'makes you eat more' claim

"Sitting next to overweight people makes you more likely to gorge on unhealthy food," the Daily Express reports. A study involving an actress in a fat suit found that people tended to eat more when she was wearing the suit…

Green tea compound may improve cancer drugs

Monday Oct 6 2014

Green tea compound may improve cancer drugs

"Green tea could helps [sic] scientists develop new cancer fighting drugs," the Mail Online reports. Before you rush out to the shops, in no way does this study suggest green tea can fight cancer. Instead, research has found a compound in green tea…

Study finds clue to why colds trigger asthma

Friday Oct 3 2014

Study reveals new clue into why colds trigger asthma attacks

The Mail Online reports how "a simple cold can set off a deadly asthma attack: Scientists discover chemical can send the immune system into overdrive". It is well known that in people with asthma…

Moderate regular drinking may 'damage sperm'

Friday Oct 3 2014

Even moderate regular drinking damages sperm

“Just five alcoholic drinks a week could reduce sperm quality,” The Guardian reports. A study involving Danish military recruits found that even moderate drinking, if done regularly, was associated with a drop in quality…

Scientists look into regenerating retinal cells

Thursday Oct 2 2014

Stem cells harvested from eyes could treat blindness

'Scientists … have discovered stem cells in the human eye which can be transformed into light sensitive cells and potentially reverse blindness' The Daily Telegraph reports. The research is still at a very early stage but does show promising potential…

Does losing your sense of smell predict death risk?

Thursday Oct 2 2014

Simple smell test 'could predict five-year death risk'

"Sense of smell 'may predict lifespan'," BBC News reports. New research suggests people unable to smell distinctive scents, such as peppermint or fish, may have an increased risk of death within five years…

Minimum alcohol pricing would 'save 100s of lives'

Wednesday Oct 1 2014

Minimal alcohol pricing would 'save 100s of lives'

“‘Hundreds of lives lost' over failure to bring in minimum alcohol pricing,” The Independent reports. The news is based on research that modelled the effect of a minimum alcohol price per unit of around 40 to 50 pence…

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

Your NHS Health Check

Millions of people have already had their free "midlife MOT". Find out why this health check-up is so important

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...