Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Call to make 5 a day fruit and veg into '7 a day'

Tuesday Apr 1 2014

Five a day should be upped to 'seven a day'

"Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day is healthier than the five currently recommended," BBC News report. A new study suggests that the current dietary recommendations do not go far enough…

Statins 'improve erectile dysfunction symptoms'

Tuesday Apr 1 2014

Statins – a low cost alternative to Viagra?

“How statins could boost your love life: Cholesterol lowering drugs ‘reduce erectile dysfunction’,” reports the Daily Mail. The paper reports on a small but well-conducted analysis of existing data into statin use and symptoms of erectile dysfunction...

First cat-to-human TB infections reported

Friday Mar 28 2014

First cat-to-humans TB infection spread reported

"Cats have passed TB to humans for the first time in an outbreak feared to have been caused by badgers," the Daily Mail reports. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation and the risk of further transmission has been described as “very low”…

Smoke-free laws linked to improved child health

Friday Mar 28 2014

Smoke-free laws linked to improved child health

"Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on child health," BBC News reports. Researchers found lower rates of premature births and severe asthma cases in countries with a smoking ban…

Doctors launch new tool to measure your 'heart age'

Thursday Mar 27 2014

Maybe your heart is 'older' than you are

“People are being urged to find out their "true" heart age in order to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes,” BBC News reports. Doctors have put together a new risk calculator called JBS3 that can tell you the real “age” of your heart…

Could a DNA test predict obesity risk in children?

Thursday Mar 27 2014

DNA test could assess obesity risk in children

"A DNA blood test can predict obesity levels in children as they grow up, scientists claim," the Metro reports. The test, which is based on measuring "switches" in DNA, may help identify children who would benefit from early intervention…

Adding fluoride to water does prevent tooth decay

Wednesday Mar 26 2014

Fluoride in water does prevent tooth decay

“Consider mass fluoridation of water, says health body," BBC News reports. The news follows study by Public Health England providing compelling evidence that fluoridation of mains water is a safe and effective way of preventing tooth decay…

No evidence that plain cigarette packs work, says industry funded study

Wednesday Mar 26 2014

Plain packs don’t work, says industry funded study

"Unbranded cigarettes could mean people smoke more, experts warn," The Daily Telegraph reports. However, the evidence provided by the “experts” has not been peer reviewed and their work has been funded by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris…

NICE: 'schools should provide morning-after pill'

Wednesday Mar 26 2014

'Schools should provide morning-after pills,' says NICE

New guidelines on contraceptive services for young people issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have prompted widespread coverage. The headlines have focused on a number of elements, with The Daily Telegraph…

Back pain 'leading cause of disability,' study finds

Tuesday Mar 25 2014

Back pain is now a leading cause of disability

"Back pain behind 'more disability than any other condition'," ITV News reports after a new study found that the condition may now be the leading cause of disability worldwide…


Many health claims are made for probiotics. Find out when they might help and when to be sceptical

Call to make 5 a day fruit and veg into '7 a day'

Recent research suggests that eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease and cancer. Should we all be eating more?

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

Alcohol, myths and the media

Can lager help you live longer? Can wine help you lose weight? We take a sober look at the media’s claims about alcohol, and what the science actually says


Take a LifeCheck

A few moments spent now could add years to your life

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...