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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

 

 

 

Pollution and birth weight

A new study, in The BMJ, examines the association between exposure to air pollution from road traffic in London during pregnancy and an increased risk of low birth weight babies born at full term. read more

Brain training for dementia

A new study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, reports that computerised brain training may reduce the risk of dementia by 29%. read more

HRT use and long-term mortality

In a new study, published in JAMA, scientists report that among postmenopausal women, hormone therapy was not associated with risk of … read more

Sedentary behaviour and mortality

Publishing in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at sedentary behaviour and reported that increased sedentary behaviour, both in total volume and prolonged uninterrupted … read more

Aircraft noise exposure and high blood pressure

A new cohort study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reports that long-term exposure to aircraft noise, particularly during the night, is associated with incident hypertension and potentially, also, cardiovascular events. read more

Alcohol and brain function

In a new study published in the BMJ researchers report brain changes associated with chronic alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels. Roundup comments accompanied this analysis.

read more

BPA-free plastic and mice

A new study in Nature Communications reports that fluorene-9-bisphenol – a Bisphenol A substitute – has anti-oestrogenic effects in mice. read more

shift work linked to lowered fertility in women

Publishing in Occupational & Environmental Medicine new research claims women working non-daytime shifts and those with physically demanding jobs had fewer mature oocytes – on average – compared with women who worked day-only shifts. read more

Acupuncture and colic

New research published in Acupuncture in Medicine reported that acupuncture appears to safely reduce crying in infants with colic. Roundup comments accompanied this analysis. read more

vaping and smoking

A research letter published in JAMA has examined the association between e-cigarette use and progression to smoking in a group of adolescents in the US. read more

socioeconomic status and brain tumours

Socioeconomic status and risk of developing brain tumours is investigated in a paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health with the authors reporting a higher risk of glioma for those with measures of higher socioeconomic status. read more

Mediterranean diet, fat levels and body weight

The effect of a high-fat Mediterranean diet on body weight is examined in a paper published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal in which the authors report an unrestricted-calorie, high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet was associated with decreases in bodyweight in older people at risk of cardiovascular disease. read more

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