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roundups & rapid reactions
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Fiona fox's blog

roundups & rapid reactions

Rapid reactions: responding to breaking news. The demands of the 24-hour media machine mean that news journalists often don’t have the luxury of time to track down the best scientists when a science story lands on their desks, so availability can sometimes win out over expertise. This is where the Science Media Centre steps in. When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic or health scare, or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment.


Roundups: putting new research into context. One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research. This service differs from our ‘rapid reactions’ as scientists have time to react before new research is announced, rather than in response to breaking news.

With access to embargoed journals before publication, we can pick stories of most interest to journalists, asking third party experts to provide comments and information to put research into context before it appears in the media. The SMC’s unique roundups help busy journalists critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of new research, and highlight when studies are very preliminary or display a correlation that should not be read as causation. Equally, when leading scientists are excited about a significant study this can reassure journalists that the study should feature strongly in their coverage.

expert reaction to new study on vitamin D deficiency and MS

A possible link between vitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been explored in a paper published in the journal PLOS Medicine, in which the authors report that gene variants which were associated with lower levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk for MS. read more

expert reaction to study on the effect of aspirin on Lynch Syndrome sufferers’ risk of cancer

Attempting to investigate the association between body mass index and cancer risk in patients with lynch syndrome, a team of researchers have published their work in the journal of Clinical Oncology. They report that obesity is associated with a substantial increase in risk of developing colorectal cancer in patients with lynch syndrome, but this risk is reduced in those taking aspirin. read more

expert reaction to survey on e-cigarette use among young people in the UK

The effects of e-cigarettes in terms of helping people quit smoking and (positive or negative) health impacts are the focus of strong debate, and a paper in the journal Public Health has published the results of a survey of 11-18 year olds in Great Britain. The article reports that the proportion of young people who have tried e-cigarettes rose between 2013-14 (though was rare in people who have never smoked), as did the proportion who thought that e-cigarettes are as harmful as conventional cigarettes. read more

expert reaction to study comparing low-fat and low-carb diets and body fat loss

Publishing in the journal Cell Metabolism, a group of researchers has described their work into the differences between diets which are low in fat or those which are low in carbohydrates. They report that in the 19 obese people which they studied both diets resulted in loss of body fat, but that this loss was greater in the low fat diet. read more

expert reaction to study investigating improving IVF success rates for women aged 43 and above

Attempting to investigate possible reasons for the decline in pregnancy rates for older women who undergo IVF, a team of researchers have published their work in the Journal of Endocrinology. In a specific type of cell which surrounds the egg they report the expression of several genes to be different between older and younger women, and also that this cell type replicated less frequently in older women. read more

expert reaction to review investigating the effects of trans unsaturated fats and saturated fats on health

Exactly how much of different types of nutrients should be part of our diets is the focus of much research, advice and controversy. Publishing in the BMJ, a group has investigated the effects of saturated and unsaturated fats and they report that total trans unsaturated fat intake was associated with increased mortality and death from coronary heart disease, while this was not the case for saturated fats. read more

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