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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

Drugs May Work Better at Certain Times of the Day


Doctor and assistant looking at drug label"Take your medication at the right time of day or it might not work," The Independent reports. The news is based on a study which looked at the pattern of genes made in 12 different mouse organs, to see if any of the genes showed a circadian rhythm (the “body clock”: where the body reacts to a day and night cycle). Nearly half of genes that code for proteins showed a circadian rhythm in at least one mouse organ. In most organs, such as the liver, the researchers noted that the expression (activity) of many genes peaked during “rush hours” before dawn and dusk. The researchers found that the majority of best-selling drugs, and medicines listed as “essential” by the World Health Organization (WHO) directly target products…more

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

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