select search filters
briefings
roundups & rapid reactions
factsheets
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

before the headlines

When faced with a dataset from a scientific study, assessing what conclusions can legitimately be drawn is a challenging task. For a busy journalist, performing such an analysis is a tall order. One of the services the Science Media Centre provides for journalists is brief, independent statistical analyses of scientific papers with accompanying critiques of the authors’ own conclusions at a glance.

‘Before the headlines’ analyses are structured in a simple format, with clear summaries of what the paper in question claims, and a concise assessment of the strengths and limitations. This service is provided to the SMC by volunteer statisticians.

before the headlines volunteers

 

 

 

triclosan and tumours in mice

A study published in the journal PNAS has examined the effects of the antimicrobial triclosan in mice. The authors report an association between triclosan use and tumour prevalence. read more

bisphenol-A and till receipts

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE has investigated the levels of exposure to bisphenol-A through the handling of till receipts, eating, and use of hand sanitiser. read more

antibiotics and risk of cardiac deaths

A paper in the British Medical Journal reported an association between use of the antibiotic clarithromycin and a small increased risk of cardiac deaths. The authors suggest that more research should be carried out before changing prescription practices. read more

nutritional content of organic and conventional foods

A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 343 studies into compositional differences between organic and conventional crops, reporting differences including higher levels of certain anti-oxidants and lower levels of cadmium in organic crops. read more

coffee intake and type II diabetes

Researchers publishing in Diabetologia reviewed three large observational studies and reported that increasing coffee consumption by an average of one and half cups per day over a four-year period was associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. read more

salt reduction and health

Researchers publishing in BMJ Open report the 15% fall in dietary salt intake over the past decade in England is likely to have had a key role in the 40% drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke over the same period. read more

Tamiflu and Relenza for treatment and prevention of influenza

The Cochrane Collaboration published an evidence review of Tamiflu (the antiviral drug oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) trials, reporting that Tamiflu shortens symptoms of influenza but other claims made for the drugs were not well supported by evidence from clinical study reports. read more

fruit and veg consumption and mortality

Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
suggested eating at least seven daily portions of fruit and vegetables may confer the best chance of staving off life-threatening diseases. read more

climate change and winter deaths

Nature Climate Change published research showing socio-economic and health-care conditions factors in England and Wales may be a better explanation for the decreasing numbers of winter deaths than milder winters due to climate change. read more

ear acupuncture and weight loss

The journal Acupuncture in Medicine published a small study which suggested 5-point ear acupuncture was better than single point in trying to reduce abdominal fat. read more

air pollution and death

Research in The Lancet suggested exposure to tiny particles of soot or dust may be more deadly below current European Union (EU) air … read more

air pollution and lung cancer

A paper published in The Lancet Oncology found prolonged exposure to particulate air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer, even at levels below the European Union limit values. read more

IVF and autism

In a JAMA study of more than 2.5 million children born in Sweden in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment was associated with a small but statistically significantly increased risk of mental retardation, though not associated with autistic disorder. read more

Show More
Show 100 More

{this may take a while}

in this section

filter Headlines by year

search by tag