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The Science Media Centre is not restricted to reacting to the headlines, and has helped scientists to more proactively set the agenda by bringing new science or evidence to journalists. This comes from our regular briefings, which take a variety of forms and cover a wide range of topics. Many are background briefings introducing journalists to the best experts and science on controversial issues like nuclear waste, nanotechnology, emerging diseases, or animal research, for example. They may also be news briefings where the SMC works with scientists to give the national media a new story on developments within science, whether it’s a report on climate change, a paper on stem cells being published in a leading journal, or science funding cuts in the latest budget. In addition, the SMC encourages leading experts to ‘speak out’ to the media about developments they believe may pose a threat to scientific research – not something science has been renowned for.

The Cancer Drugs Fund: was it worth it?

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was launched in England in 2010 to provide patients with access to anti-cancer drugs not available through the NHS because the drugs had not been appraised, were in the process of being appraised, or had been appraised but not recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). read more

Air pollution nanoparticles

There is mounting evidence that air pollution is bad for our health – but what actually happens inside our bodies when we breathe in particulate matter? read more

Ketamine and depression

Severe depression is the number one psychological disorder in the UK and yet 30% of patients do not respond to … read more

5G in the UK

The March budget included funding towards a future 5G network in the UK. read more

Can we make cannabis safer?

In a Personal View article to be published in the Lancet Psychiatry, the authors explain that increasingly liberal cannabis laws in some countries and the increasing potency of cannabis worldwide mean that we need to think about whether and how cannabis can be made safer.

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Mental health screening of military personnel

The UK has been considering following in the footsteps of the US and Australia by introducing mental health screening of military personnel after they return from deployment. However, there have been question marks over whether screening works, whether it the best way of helping military personnel and whether it is worth the money. read more

Vitamin D supplementation and respiratory infections

The effect of vitamin D supplementation on health continues to be a subject of controversy, despite recent recommendations from SACN and PHE that everyone over the age of one should consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily to ensure good health. read more

Football and dementia

Boxing and American football are under scrutiny because of head injuries causing long-term damage to the brain, but the situation is much less clear for football where heading is extremely common, but head injuries are less so. read more

Could overcooking some foods cause cancer?

Acrylamide is a chemical that is created naturally when many foods, particularly starchy foods like potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, such as when baking, frying, grilling, toasting and roasting. read more

Antibiotics in farming

Future dangers of antimicrobial resistance are widely acknowledged, with farming practices often blamed for the rise in resistance to common antibiotics in human diseases. read more

Climate change and the Trump presidency

Donald Trump has said that no-one really knows whether climate change is real. Scientists tend to disagree. But what will the new presidency have in store for the US approach to climate change? read more

Global overfishing: what is the world’s true catch?

Two leading marine biologists, Prof Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller from the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us project, published findings last year that challenged fundamental assumptions about global fisheries. read more

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