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Behind the Headlines

Fact or fiction?

Your guide to the science behind health stories in the news

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Previously featured headline analysis

'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

Stress 'causes damage to the heart,' study finds


Doctors and nurses running down a hallway"Stress is already known to be bad for the heart, but now scientists have discovered why it is so harmful," The Times reports. A new US study now offers a plausible model of how chronic psychological stress could lead to heart damage. It involved both mice and junior doctors. Researchers checked the blood of a small group of doctors after a week at work in intensive care. After a week of this stressful work, their white blood cell count had increased. Similarly, when mice were exposed to chronic stress (tilting their cage for an extended period of time), they also showed increased levels of white blood cells.…more

Just five sunburns increase your cancer risk


Teenage boy wearing baseball cap“Five serious sunburns increase the risk of deadly skin cancer by 80%,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A US study has found that sun overexposure during the teenage years significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer in later life. The study followed over 110,000 nurses over 20 years, using questionnaires. It found that women who had five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20, compared to those that had none, were 80% more likely to develop melanoma (the most aggressive form of skin cancer).…more

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