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Behind the Headlines

Fact or fiction?

Your guide to the science behind health stories in the news

Previously featured

Previously featured headline analysis

HPV Urine Test Could Screen for Cervical Cancer


Photo of women talking in cafe“A simple urine test which can detect the human papilloma virus (HPV) could offer women a much less invasive alternative to [current] cervical cancer screening,” The Independent reports. Research found urine-based testing for HPV DNA showed signs it might be accurate enough to provide a viable screening method, given further research and development. The papers report on a review of 14 diverse studies involving 1,443 women. All of the studies looked at the accuracy of using a self-administered urine test designed to detect HPV DNA. HPV is a group of viruses, some of which can cause cervical cancer in women. The advantage of such a self-administered urine test is it may improve uptake of cervical screening.…more

Tomato-rich diet 'reduces prostate cancer risk'


Man cooking with tomatoes“Tomatoes ‘cut risk of prostate cancer by 20%’,” the Daily Mail reports, citing a study that found men who ate 10 or more portions a week had a reduced risk of the disease. The study in question gathered a year’s dietary information from 1,806 men who were found to have prostate cancer and 12,005 who were clear after random prostate checks. The researchers compared the diets and adjusted the results to take into account factors such as age, family history of prostate cancer and ethnicity. They found that men who ate more than 10 portions of tomatoes or tomato products per week have an 18% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to men who ate less than 10. As this was a case controlled study, and not a randomised controlled trial, it cannot prove that eating more tomatoes…more

'Morning sickness' linked to healthier babies


Photo of woman drinking tea at computer“Morning sickness isn't all bad news: Women battling the condition may have 'healthier, more intelligent babies’,” the Mail Online reports. The news is based on the results of a systematic review that looked at the effects of “morning sickness”. Health professionals prefer the term “nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP)” because, as many pregnant women can attest, symptoms can occur at any time. The researchers were interested in whether NVP was associated with better pregnancy outcomes. The researchers identified 10 observational studies. All 10 reported a protective effect of NPV, such as a reduced risk of miscarriage, birth defects and premature birth. There was also evidence of an association with…more

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