Bedford Hill Family Practice

120 Bedford Hill
Balham
SW12 9HS
Tel: 020 8673 1720

Family Planning

All doctors are able to offer family planning advice during their normal surgery. Oral contraceptives: Please make an appointment with a practice nurse (or a GP).

  • Coils: Fitted at the Family Planning Clinic
  • Contraceptive implants: We do not fit these at the surgery and will ask you to attend the Family Planning Clinic at Balham Health Centre.
  • Contraceptive injections: Are administered by the practice nurses.
  • Emergency Contraception: Please contact a practice nurse (or a GP) as soon as possible.

The Family Planning Clinic at Balham Health Centre is held on the following days:

Tuesday 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Thursday 9.30am - 11.30am
Friday 5.00pm - 7.00pm

 

 

NHS Choices - Behind the headlines

  • Social care reforms announced

    Most of the UK media is covering the announcement made in Parliament by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, about proposed changes to social care.

    The two confirmed points to have garnered the most media attention in the run-up to the announcement are:

    • a ‘cost cap’ of £75,000 worth of care costs – after this...
  • Apathy unproven as early warning sign of dementia

    “Elderly who lose interest in pastimes could be at risk of Alzheimer's,” reports The Daily Telegraph, with other papers reporting similar headlines.

    These incorrect headlines are based on the results of a study that looked for a link between symptoms of apathy and structural brain changes (on brain scans) in over 4,000 older adults who...

  • NICE highlights how hand washing can save lives

    “Doctors and nurses should do more to stop hospital patients developing infections, an NHS watchdog says,” BBC News reports.

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted how basic hygiene protocols, such as hand washing, may be overlooked...

  • PET scans may improve brain injury diagnosis

    “PET scans could predict extent of recovery from brain injury, trials show,” The Guardian reports. Evidence suggests that the advanced scanning devices may be able to detect faint signs of consciousness in people with severe brain injuries.

    The paper reports on a study that examined how accurate two specialised brain imaging techniques...

  • Cannabis linked to brain differences in the young

    “Using cannabis just once a week harms young brains,” the Daily Mail reports.

    The newspaper reports on an US study that took one-off brain MRI scans of a group of 20 young adult recreational cannabis users, and a comparison group of 20 non-users. They compared their brain structure, focusing on regions that are believed to be...

  • Eating chocolate probably won't save your marriage

    “As blood glucose levels plummet, aggression levels rise, and people take it out on those closest to them,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

    This news is based on an American study into blood glucoses levels and aggression.

    Researchers aimed to find out whether people’s blood glucose levels predicted aggressive impulses and...

  • Salt cuts have 'saved lives,' says study

    "Cutting back on salt does save lives," is the good news on the front page of the Daily Mail. The headline is based on a study of data obtained from the Health Survey for England, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, and the Office for National Statistics between 2003 and 2011.

    The researchers chose 2003 as the start...

  • New hepatitis C drug treatment 'shows promise'

    "A new treatment for hepatitis C 'cured' 90% of patients with the infection in 12 weeks, scientists said," BBC News reports after a new drug protocol designed to target the protein that assists the spread of the virus through the body has shown promising results.

    The study the BBC reports on involved 394 people with...

  • Could statins also protect against dementia?

    “Heart pills taken by millions of people in Britain could dramatically reduce the risk of dementia,” the Daily Express reports.

    A study from Taiwan has found an association between the use of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and reduced dementia risk.

    In this large study of older adults, researchers recorded people’s first...

  • No way to reliably identify low-risk prostate cancer

    “Men with prostate cancer being given 'false hope',” The Daily Telegraph reports.

    UK researchers have examined the accuracy of different methods that have sometimes been used (mostly outside the UK) to identify “clinically insignificant” prostate cancers – those that would not be expected to affect a man during his lifetime (meaning...

  • Lab-grown vaginas successfully implanted

    "Doctors implant lab-grown vagina" is the headline on the BBC News website, reporting on the latest breakthrough in the increasingly exciting field of tissue engineering.

    In this latest study, tissue engineering was used to develop a vagina for reconstructive surgery in four teenage girls who had the rare condition Mayer-...

  • Removing copper from body could slow cancer

    "Copper can block growth of rare cancer," is the rather unclear headline in The Daily Telegraph. Researchers have found that a drug that reduces the amount of copper in the body may also be able to lessen the growth of some kinds of tumours.

    These tumours – such as melanoma – have a mutation in the BRAF gene. BRAF helps...

  • Effectiveness of Tamiflu and Relenza questioned

    “Ministers blew £650 MILLION on useless anti-flu drugs,” the Daily Mail reports. The paper cites a large study, which investigated the effectiveness of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir).

    These drugs, called neuraminidase inhibitors, have been stockpiled in many countries, including the UK, to prevent...

  • Home HIV testing kits now legal in UK

    “Kits allowing people to test themselves for HIV at home can be bought over the counter in the UK for the first time,” BBC News recently reported.

    The UK government has amended the law so “do it yourself” home testing kits for HIV are now legal to be sold over-the-counter.

     

    Can go I out and buy a test?

    ...

  • Does paying drug users boost hep B jab uptake?

    "Heroin addicts are being 'bribed' with £30 in shopping vouchers for agreeing to undergo vaccinations," The Daily Telegraph reports, while the Daily Mail said addicts were to get a "£10 supermarket 'bribe' to stay clear of drugs and £30 to have a hepatitis B jab".

    Some of the reporting makes it sound as if drug...

  • Painkiller use linked to irregular heartbeat

    “Painkillers used by millions of Britons have been linked to higher risk of an irregular heartbeat that could trigger a stroke,” the Mail Online reports.

    This headline follows the publication of a long-term study that aimed to find out whether older adults developed atrial fibrillation. The researchers looked at whether adults who had...

  • Could a blood test be used to detect lung cancer?

    "Simple blood test could soon diagnose if patient has cancer and how advanced it is," reports the Mail Online. But this is a rather premature headline given the early stage of the research that the news is based on.

    The blood of people with cancer contains DNA from the tumour, which may enter the blood after some of the...

  • Claims gambling is caused by brain damage

    “The gambler’s fallacy explained? Misguided belief in the big win just around the corner could be down to brain damage,” The Independent incorrectly reported.

    The news is based on a small experimental study that assessed performance in two gambling games in healthy people, and in people with damage to specific regions of the brain....

  • Teen boy sunbed use linked to eating disorders

    “Teenage men who regularly use sunbeds are more prone to eating disorders,” the Metro reports. A study has found that teen tanners are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviour, such as using laxatives and vomiting after meals, in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain.

    However, it shouldn't it be inferred from these findings...

  • Milk may slow progression of knee osteoarthritis

    "Milk could be the key to beating crippling arthritis," reports the Daily Express, while the Daily Mail adds that, "A glass of milk a day keeps arthritis at bay".

    Both headlines are potentially misleading. The study the papers were reporting on was about slowing the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee joints...

  • Review recommends plain cigarette packs

    “The government has announced its support for the introduction of standardised cigarette packets, following a review,” BBC News reports. The review concludes that plain packaging would have a positive impact on public health.

     

    Who produced the review?

    The review was commissioned by Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under...

  • Is frequent mouthwash use linked to oral cancer?

    "Experts warn using mouthwash more than twice a day can give you cancer," the Daily Mirror reports. The news comes from a European study that examined the oral health and dental hygiene of people diagnosed with cancers of the mouth, throat, vocal chords or oesophagus (collectively called "upper aerodigestive cancers")....

  • Vegetarians have 'poorer quality of life' study claims

    “Vegetarians are 'less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters’,'' The Independent reports. A study from Austria suggests there is an association between a vegetarian diet and an increased risk of certain chronic diseases.

    But before any meat eating readers start feeling smug, the study provides no proof that...

  • Can warm-water exercise help high blood pressure?

    "Working out in warm water could be a radical new cure for high blood pressure," the Mail Online reports. Results of a small study suggest that "hot aquarobics" may benefit people who had failed to respond to conventional treatment for high blood pressure.

    The study was a small randomised trial that included 32...

  • Ketamine tested as severe depression treatment

    “The illegal party drug ketamine is an ‘exciting’ and ‘dramatic’ new treatment for depression,” BBC News reports. A small study found that some people with severe depression responded well to the drug.

    The study involved people with severe depression (including people with depression as part of bipolar disorder) who had failed to...

  • Probiotics 'no good' at treating infant colic

    “Probiotics 'don't ease' baby colic,” the Mail Online reports. A small, though well-conducted, study suggests that probiotics – commonly touted as “friendly bacteria” – could actually make symptoms worse.

    Colic is a poorly understood condition in which otherwise healthy babies cry excessively and frequently. While not a serious threat...

  • Single men risk ignoring melanoma symptoms

    “Men who live alone at greater skin cancer risk,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

    The headlines are based on a population study from Sweden, which followed almost 30,000 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer.

    Despite the headline, the study did not find that men who live alone were at...

  • New genetic clues about skin cancer

    “Skin cancer: Genetic mutations 'warn of risk',” reports BBC News today.

    The science behind the headline involved sequencing the genetic material of 184 people with a strong family history of malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

    The aim was to identify previously unknown genetic variations that may...

  • Earl Grey unproven as replacement for statins

    “A cup of Earl Grey 'as good as statins' at fighting heart disease,” reports The Daily Telegraph, entirely without proof.

    The science behind this headline did not show Earl Grey was as good as statins (a class of drugs used to lower high cholesterol) in people.

    The study was early stage research on a small group of rats in a...

  • Statins 'improve erectile dysfunction symptoms'

    “How statins could boost your love life: Cholesterol lowering drugs ‘reduce erectile dysfunction’,” reports the Daily Mail.

    The paper reports on a small but well-conducted analysis of existing data into statin use and symptoms of erectile dysfunction (inability to obtain or maintain an erection).

    Statins are widely used to...

  • 5 a day should be upped to '7 a day'

    “7 a day fruit and veg 'saves lives’” reports BBC News, while The Daily Telegraph states that “10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day” is best.

    The headlines have been prompted by the results of a UK-based study that used information on more than 65,000 randomly selected adults who were participating in the Health Survey for...

  • First cat-to-human TB infections reported

    “Cats have passed TB to humans for the first time,” the Daily Mail reports. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation and the risk of further transmission has been described as “very low”.

    The headline is based on the news that two people in England have developed tuberculosis (TB) after contact with a domestic cat infected with...

  • Smoke-free laws linked to improved child health

    "Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on child health," BBC News reports. Researchers found lower rates of preterm births and childhood severe asthma cases after the introduction of smoke-free laws.

    11 studies published between 2008 and 2013 were reviewed, in a bid to examine the effect smoking...

  • Doctors launch new tool to measure your 'heart age'

    “People are being urged to find out their "true" heart age in order to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes,” BBC News reports. Doctors have put together a new risk calculator called JBS3 that can tell you the real “age” of your heart.

    Risk calculators for cardiovascular diseases or CVDs (conditions that affect the...

  • Could a DNA test predict obesity risk in children?

    "A DNA blood test can predict obesity levels in children as they grow up, scientists claim," the Metro reports. The test, which is based on measuring "switches" in DNA, may help identify children who would benefit from early intervention.

    This was a small study of 40 children who had their DNA analysed during early...

  • Adding fluoride to water does prevent tooth decay

    “Consider mass fluoridation of water, says health body," BBC News reports.

    The news follows study by Public Health England providing compelling evidence that fluoridation of mains water is a safe and effective way of preventing tooth decay.

    Fluoridation has been morally and ethically controversial in some quarters and has...

  • NICE: 'schools should provide morning-after pill'

    New guidelines on contraceptive services for young people issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have prompted widespread coverage.

    The headlines have focused on a number of elements, with The Daily Telegraph reporting that, "Schools are told to give free morning-after pills and condoms to teenage...

  • Plain cigarette packaging doesn't work, says industry funded study

    “Unbranded cigarettes could mean people smoke more, experts warn,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

    However, the evidence provided by experts and reported on by the media has not been peer reviewed, and their work has been funded by a major cigarette manufacturer.

    The news story is based partly on an analysis of smoking trends in...

  • Back pain 'leading cause of disability,' study finds

    "Back pain behind 'more disability than any other condition'," ITV News reports after a new study found that the condition may now be the leading cause of disability worldwide.

    The study looked at how much disability is caused by lower back pain ...

  • Could Botox be used to treat severe asthma?

    “Botox is commonly used to smooth out wrinkles, but new research suggests it could be used to help asthma sufferers,” the Mail Online report.

    While early results seem encouraging, the research being reported on is still at proof of concept stage.

    For...

  • 'Couch potato' lifestyle linked to bigger bums

    "It's official: Sitting around really does give you a fat behind," the Mail Online reports. While this may seem logical, it should be pointed out that the study behind the headlines involved mice, not humans.

    The website reports on a laboratory study that used special microscopic techniques to measure the stiffness of fat...

  • Study fails to prove effects of stress on fertility

    Stress can double the risk of infertility for women,” The Daily Mail reports. However, the evidence provided by the latest study is not as clear cut as the...

  • Scarlet fever cases on the rise in England

    "More than 3,500 cases of scarlet fever – the vast majority in children – have been reported since September," The Daily Telegraph reports.

    The news follows a warning from public health officials, that cases of scarlet fever among children have hit levels not seen since 1990.

    ...

  • Could spinal fluid test give early Alzheimer’s warning?

    “A new Alzheimer’s detection test, which can diagnose the presence of the disease decades before symptoms appear, could be available to patients in just three years,” reports the Daily Express.

    Sadly, this claim was not actually proven; what actually happened is that researchers developed a test that can detect low levels of an...

  • Meningitis B vaccine may be available on the NHS

    "A vaccine that protects against a deadly form of meningitis is set to be introduced in the UK," BBC News reports, while the Mail Online adds that a "New life-saving meningitis jab [will be available] for all children on NHS as Health Secretary...

  • Rapid breathing 'better' for premature babies

    "Rapid breaths 'protect early babies'," BBC News reports.

    One immediate concern when babies are born very premature is their breathing. As their lungs are so tiny, many premature babies require breathing support provided by a...

  • No proof that high-dose cannabis is more addictive

    “People who smoke high-potency cannabis inhale more of the drug’s active ingredient, THC,” the Mail Online reports.

    The website reports on a small study involving heavy, habitual users of more potent forms of cannabis such as “skunk” – a type of herbal cannabis specifically bred for its potency.

    They wanted to see if users who...

  • Statins may slow progression of MS

    “Multiple sclerosis patients may benefit from statins,” The Guardian reports.

    A UK study, involving 140 participants, has found that statins, which lower cholesterol, may slow brain shrinkage in people living with ...

  • Should people with 'fat genes' avoid fried food?

    "Eating fried food is more likely to make you fat if you have 'obesity genes'," The Independent reports after a study in the BMJ suggested that those with a genetic predisposition towards obesity should avoid fried food.

    The news is based on a US...

  • Saturated fats and heart disease link 'unproven'

    “No link found between saturated fat and heart disease,” The Daily Telegraph reports. Researchers have looked at large amounts of data and say they have found no significant link between saturated fat and heart disease.

    Nutritional guidelines generally encourage low consumption of saturated fats, found in butter, cream, cheese and...

  • Call for changes to infant organ donation guidelines

    “Allow parents to donate the organs of babies who die, urge doctors,” The Guardian reports. The paper reports that doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital are arguing that current UK guidelines regarding organ donations from infants less than two months old (...

  • Reliability of stem cell 'breakthrough' questioned

    "Stem cell 'breakthrough data inappropriately handled'," BBC News reports.

    In January, scientists in Japan described how they used acid baths to simply and cheaply generate stem cells.

    But the BBC has reported that this widely heralded breakthrough for stem cell science may not be all it seems.

    The news...

  • Three-quarters of people with flu have no symptoms

    “‘77% of flu infections’ have no symptoms, say experts,” reports ITV News.

    The news is based on a large community-based study carried out in England, which found that most people with influenza (“flu”) don’t have symptoms, and even if they do, only a small...

  • Alcohol at end of aisles linked to 'boosted sales'

    “Putting alcohol and fizzy drinks at the end of supermarket aisles does make us buy more,” the Mail Online reports.

    Researchers studying buying patterns in an English supermarket found that placing products on the ends of aisles was associated with increased sales.

    There has long been anecdotal evidence that the placing of...

  • New fast track drug scheme to help severely ill

    "'Early access' drugs scheme launched for severely ill," BBC News reports. The government has launched the Early Access to Medicines Scheme designed to help patients with life threatening or...

  • NICE cancer email hoax warning

    "A health watchdog is warning that thousands of people have been sent hoax emails," BBC News reports. The emails, purporting to come from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), wrongly warn people they may have cancer.

    The NHS would never send any sort of...

  • Easy access to takeaways 'increases obesity risk'

    "Encountering too many takeaway outlets near our homes, workplaces and even on the daily commute to work could be increasing our risk of obesity," The Independent reports.

    The headline is based on a new study looking at whether the density of fast...

  • Oxytocin nasal spray tested for anorexia

    “A kiss to 'cure' anorexia: 'Love hormone' can help reduce sufferers' obsession with food and weight,” is the unsupported claim on the Mail Online.

    This story involved the media’s favourite hormone, oxytocin which, depending on what pop-science source you read, has been dubbed as the “love”, “cuddle” or “kissing” hormone, as it is...

  • Statins side effects are minimal, study argues

    “Cholesterol-lowering statins have almost no side effects,” The Guardian reports. A new UK study argues that the majority of reported side effects are actually due to the nocebo effect – symptoms that are “all in the mind”. 

    The...

  • Breast cancer exercise advice may change

    “Exercise advised for lymphoedema after breast cancer,” reports BBC News.

    The headlines follow the publication of new draft recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which is updating its guidance on the diagnosis and treatment for people with advanced...

  • Obese 11-year-old girls 'get lower school grades'

    "Study links obesity in teenage girls with lower academic results," BBC News reports. Previous studies have reported that child and adolescent obesity has a wide variety of adverse consequences in both the short and long term.

    A large study of UK secondary school pupils has now looked at whether being overweight or obese at...

  • Low-level drinking in early pregnancy 'harms baby'

    "Drinking alcohol early in pregnancy, even in small amounts, increases chances of harming your baby," reports The Independent, one of several news outlets to report on the latest study on the risks of drinking during pregnancy.

    The study of 1,303 pregnant women aged between 18 and 45 years old found that women who drank less...

  • Children's diets contain 'too much salt'

    “Children eat too much salt,” reports The Daily Telegraph, one of several news outlets to report on new findings that have led researchers to call for further reductions in the salt content of processed food.

    The news is based on the results of a study assessing the salt intake of 340 children in south London by keeping a record of...

  • Are e-cigarettes a 'gateway to nicotine addiction'?

    "E-cigarettes are encouraging a new generation to become hooked on nicotine," reports the Mail Online.

    E-cigarettes are devices that deliver a heated aerosol ("vapour") of nicotine in a way that mimics conventional cigarettes. But they have lower levels of toxins such as tar than a conventional tobacco cigarette....

  • Claims new blood test can detect Alzheimer's disease

    “Blood test that can predict Alzheimer's,” was the headline used by BBC News, the Daily Mail and The Guardian today. Similar coverage was seen across many of the front pages of other newspapers.

    These headlines reflected new research showing how a simple blood test may be able to detect early signs of cognitive decline and mild...

  • Antibiotic resistance 'toolkit' launched

    "Antibiotics: 'national threat' from steep rise in patients who are resistant to drugs,” The Daily Telegraph reports. The Mail Online reports that there were, “600 reported cases of drugs failing because of resistant bacteria last year”.

    What isn’t made very clear is that these 600 cases were of one very specific form of...

  • 'Peeing' in pool may create harmful byproducts

    “Peeing in the pool could be bad for your health,” the Mail Online reports. As well as being unpleasant and socially unacceptable, new research suggests that a chemical in wee can react with chlorinated swimming pool water, creating potentially harmful byproducts.

    The study in question used lab tests to study the reaction between a...

  • HIV 'gene hack' offers new treatment hope

    “HIV gene therapy using GM cells hailed a success after trial,” reports The Guardian, while the BBC tells us that an “immune upgrade” could offer “HIV shielding”.

    These headlines come following a small trial that examined whether it was safe to inject genetically modified white blood cells into people with HIV. This was achieved, but...

  • WHO says halving sugar target has extra benefit

    “Halve sugar intake, say health experts,” The Daily Telegraph reports, while The Guardian tells us that “a can of coke a day is too much sugar”.

    The widespread media reports follow new draft international guidelines looking at the healthy maximum recommended levels of sugars in the diet.

    Currently, people are advised to have...

  • Parental smoking 'ages' children’s arteries

    “Passive smoking causes lasting damage to children's arteries, prematurely ageing their blood vessels by more than three years,” BBC News reports.

    The news is based on emerging evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke damages children’s arteries. This news is concerning, as the thickening of blood vessel walls (...

  • High protein diet not as bad for you as smoking

    “People who eat diets rich in animal protein carry similar cancer risk to those who smoke 20 cigarettes each day,” reports The Daily Telegraph.

    We have decades of very good evidence that smoking kills and – fortunately for meat lovers – this latest unhelpful comparison with high protein diets largely appears to be a triumph of PR...

  • Do short people also have smaller IQs?

    “They’re already called ‘vertically challenged’ – but are short people intellectually challenged too?” is the headline in the Mail Online. The website reports on a gene study which found taller people were more likely to have a genetic makeup associated with increased intelligence.

    The study analysed 6,815 unrelated people and found...

  • Angry outbursts may up heart attack risk

    “Having a hot temper may increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to researchers,” BBC News reports.

    Research has found that people prone to attacks of rage have a higher risk of a experiencing a serious cardiovascular event, such as a ...

  • Childhood nightmares link to psychotic experiences

    “Regular nightmares in childhood may be an early warning sign of psychotic disorders,” BBC News reports. While many children have the occasional nightmare, a history of regular nightmares could be the sign of something more serious, the news reports.

    The study in question followed more than 6,000 UK children and found that those whose...

  • How seaweed could slow the obesity tidal wave

    “Seaweed could be key to weight loss, study suggests,” BBC News reports.

    UK researchers have looked at alginates that occur naturally in “kelp” seaweed (the variety that resembles large blades). They found that these alginates may help reduce the amount of fat the body digests.

    Their study showed that, in the lab, certain types...

  • Claims of 'anti-ageing pill' may be premature

    The Daily Telegraph and Daily Express both carry headlines about how a “pill” to help humans live longer could be on the cards. Though while the substance being studied shows promise, the research only involved mice.

    Researchers were looking at a chemical called SRT1720 which activates a particular protein called Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)....

  • Draft regulations on 'three parent' IVF published

    Draft regulations  into what is known as “three person IVF” – or mitochondria replacement – have been published by the Department of Health. If accepted by Parliament, the UK...

  • Stethoscopes could spread hospital infections

    "Stethoscopes 'more contaminated' than doctors hands," BBC News reports after new Swiss research has suggested that the much-used instrument may spread bacteria inside hospitals, including MRSA.

    The BBC reports on an observational study involving 71...

  • Caesareans linked to obesity in offspring

    Babies born by caesarean section are more likely to be obese adults, the Daily Mail reports, after an analysis found a link between caesarean section and obesity in later life....

  • 'Breast milk no better than bottled,' study claims

    "Breast milk is 'no better for a baby than bottled milk' and it increases the risk of asthma, expert claims," reports the Mail Online. The news comes from a large US study of children aged 4 to 14 looking at whether...

  • Five-year 'death test' provides few answers

    A “death test” that supposedly predicts the chance of a healthy person dying in the next five years has been developed by scientists, The Daily Telegraph reports.

    The test, which was based on a study sampling 17,000 people, measured a total of 106 biomarkers; these included substances in the blood such as alpha-1-acid glycoprotein – a...

  • Patients 'are safer with better-educated nurses'

    “Fewer nurses educated to degree level putting patients' lives at risk, study finds,” The Independent reports. A Europe-wide study suggests that nurse education and patient to nursing staff ratios may impact on patient outcomes.

    As many European countries tighten their budgets, one obvious opportunity to save costs is to trim nursing...

  • Is cooked meat linked to increased dementia risk?

    Cooking meat “may” increase the risk of developing dementia, reports BBC News.

    The claim  follows a study by US researchers on mice and humans, looking at what are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and whether they are linked to the development of ...

  • Over a million babies a year die on first day of life

    "More than a million babies around the world die on the day of their birth yearly," is the sobering news in The Guardian after a report by the charity Save the Children argued that further action is required to combat child mortality. 

    The report shows that 2.9 million babies...

  • Gum disease may be linked to arthritis

    "Brushing your teeth well could help prevent arthritis," the Mail Online advises after scientists found that the bacteria that causes gum disease – P. gingivalis – may also damage joints. But the Mail's advice – though well meaning – is premature. This...

  • Do Tetris weight loss claims stack up?

    “Want to lose weight? Play Tetris: Classic game distracts dieters from food cravings,” reports the Mail Online.

    This misleading headline comes from a new study into cravings. Researchers were interested in whether a demanding visual task, in this case playing the uber-addictive 80s video game Tetris would reduce cravings.

    The...

  • Cycling safety – a special report

    Is cycling a great way to get fit and save money on transport costs, or an increasingly dangerous pastime? Are cyclists aggressive lycra louts who jump red lights, or innocent victims of inconsiderate white van drivers and HGVs?  

    Such contrasting perceptions of pedal power litter the media – this is due to our own experiences and the...

  • Flu jab "may cut" stroke risk by a quarter

    A recent report has revealed that people who have the seasonal flu jab are 24% less likely to suffer a stroke, according to The Daily Telegraph

    The report is based on the results of a large study, which used the GP database for England and Wales to access data on almost 50,000 people who had suffered a ...

  • Gene tests for prostate cancer may be possible

    “Scientists have isolated a set of 13 gene defects that can be used to identify men who are most at risk of developing life-threatening prostate cancer," The Independent reports.

    Arguably the biggest challenge in ...

  • What type of people choose assisted suicide?

    "Women, divorcees and atheists are most likely to choose assisted suicide," the Mail Online reports, "with nearly 20% saying they are 'simply weary of life'".

    The Mail’s headline is misleading. The story comes from a study of ...

  • Fears pregnant women are ignoring folic acid advice

    “Women are ignoring expert advice to take folic acid supplements before pregnancy to protect their unborn children,” The Guardian reports. The research has prompted calls for food to be fortified with folic acid. 

    It has long been known that taking folic acid before getting pregnant can reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural...

  • 20% rise in penile cancer: are STIs to blame?

    “The rise of penis cancer: Cases soar by 20%, amidst fears that symptoms are being misdiagnosed as STDs,” reports the Mail Online.

    The news follows a recently published study of long-term trends in incidence and mortality rates of penile cancer in England from 1979 to 2009, as well as survival trends from 1971 to 2010.

    ...

  • 'UK's suicide rate highest among middle-aged men'

    Suicide rates were in the news, with The Guardian reporting that men are at higher risk than women and The Daily Telegraph saying that middle-aged men are the highest risk group.

    The stories are based on a report on suicides in the UK for 2012. It reveals that overall, the number of people committing suicide was slightly lower, but...

  • NICE drugs policy for the elderly is unchanged

    "NHS ban medicine if you are 'too old' in new attack on Britain's elderly" is the headline in the Daily Express, with many other news sources echoing similar dire warnings.

    The media storm is based on the news that, as part of a consultation, the Department of Health has asked the National...

  • Nanofibre lined tubes used to 'move' brain tumours

    “Cancer ‘monorails’ can be used to kill [brain] tumours by luring them into toxic pits or areas of the body that are safer to operate on,” BBC News reports.

    This headline comes from an exciting new study which used thin tubes (termed ‘cancer...

  • Is there such a thing as a 'lazy gene'?

    "A mutation in a gene with a critical role in the brain could explain why some people are 'couch potatoes',"  The Independent reports, while the Mail Online claims that "there might soon be a pill to get you moving".

    Both headlines are way off the mark – the underlying study did not involve humans, but mice....

  • Brain development may be affected by chemicals

    “Number of chemicals linked to problems such as autism doubles in just seven years,” reports the Mail Online. This headline uncritically repeated the conclusions of a new literature review by two researchers.

    They argue that exposure to certain industrial chemicals, which have become a ubiquitous feature of modern life, being found...

  • 'Boris bikes' may be good for your health

    "London's cycle hire scheme has had a positive effect on the health of its users," BBC News reports. So-called "Boris bikes" (named for the "colourful" Mayor of London, Boris Johnson) have led to improvements in both physical and mental health, researchers report.

    The headlines follow the publication of a...

  • Men's and women's brains found to be different sizes

    “Men really do have bigger brains,” reports the Daily Mail, going on to report that new research reveals “male and female brains are wired differently” with particularly big differences in the areas that control language and emotion.

    It is well established that males and females have different predispositions towards developing...

  • Strokes 'may be linked to temperature', study finds

    "How a change in weather could trigger a stroke: Very cold or humid temperatures can cause a fatal clot to develop," reports the Mail Online website. The headline comes from a US study of the records of 134,510 people who had been hospitalised for a stroke...

  • Commuting 'can lower your sense of wellbeing'

    “It's official: Commuting to work makes you miserable,” the Daily Mail reports.

    A new report compiled by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found that daily commuting took a toll on most commuters’ sense of wellbeing.

    The ONS said that...

  • Roll-ups 'as hazardous as factory made cigarettes'

    “Rollies vs Straights: Roll-your-own ‘at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette’,” reports The Independent.

    “Roll-ups” (cigarettes made using rolling tobacco and paper), have been associated with poverty – they have been seen as a tobacco product for people who couldn’t afford tailor-made cigarettes. In recent decades the...

  • NICE publishes new draft guidelines on statins use

    "Millions more people should be put on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs," BBC News reports. Draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the drugs should be given to people with an estimated 1 in 10 or more risk of ...

  • MPs vote to ban smoking in cars carrying children

    "MPs overwhelmingly back ban on smoking in cars carrying children," reports The Guardian. The media headlines are based on the passing of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill in the House of Commons, which empowers – but does not compel – ministers to bring in a ban on smoking in cars carrying children.

    The House...

  • Charity urges EU to give kids cancer drugs access

    “Children with cancer ‘denied drugs because of EU rules’,” reports the BBC.

    This and other headlines in the media are based on a press release issued by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London. The ICR has called for urgent changes in European Union (EU) regulations.

    It says...

  • Female stroke survivors’ quality of life investigated

    “Women have a poorer quality of life after stroke than men,” reports BBC News.

    This headline stemmed from a new US study that found women had a lower quality of life than men three and 12 months after experiencing a stroke or...

  • Vitamin C not proven to 'boost' chemo

    "Vitamin C keeps cancer at bay, US research suggests," was the inaccurate headline on the BBC News website. The study it reports on did not find that high-dose vitamin C helped with cancer survival, although it did appear to show it reduced some chemotherapy-related side effects.

    The study actually looked at whether ...

  • Are energy drinks linked to drug use?

    "Teenagers who consume energy drinks 'are twice as likely to use alcohol and drugs'," the Mail Online warns. Research suggests that US teenagers who regularly consume energy drinks such as Red Bull are more likely to use drugs as well as smoke and drink alcohol.

    This new research employed a survey to assess the self-reported...

  • Inaccurate reporting of cat bite dangers

    “Why even a tiny cat bite could leave you in hospital: Cats’ teeth ‘inject bacteria deep into the joints and tissue’, doctors warn”. The Daily Mail inaccurately claims that one in three people bitten by cats need to go into hospital, and that two-thirds of those people need surgery.

    The paper reports on a US study that reviewed the...

  • Diabetes claim for low-fat yoghurt not proven

    “Yoghurt is key to beating diabetes,” is the front page headline from the Daily Express.

    The news is based on a study looking at the association between dairy intake and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

    It found that the risk of the...

  • 'Talking therapies' could help with schizophrenia

    "Schizophrenia: Talking therapies 'effective as drugs'," reports BBC News. But this headline is in fact arguably misleading. The BBC reports on a new study comparing the use of cognitive therapy (CT) with no treatment in people with schizophrenia (or...

  • Can pain be 'switched off'?

    "Pain 'dimmer switch' discovered by UK scientists," reports BBC News. This headline comes from a DNA study that looked at whether pain tolerance is linked to "gene expression". Gene expression is the influence that the "information" contained in genes can have on a cellular level – in most cases, it is the way...

  • New deadly strain of bird flu may have emerged

    “Experts are concerned about the spread of a new strain of bird flu that has already killed one woman in China,” BBC News reports.

    The new strain, which has evolved from an existing bird flu virus called H10N8, has infected two people in China.

    A case...

  • Sugar intake linked to heart disease deaths

    “Three fizzy drinks per day could triple chance of heart disease,” says The Daily Telegraph.

    Its headline is based on a major US study showing a link between high levels of sugar consumption and a higher relative risk of dying from cardiovascular...

  • Study highlights child burns dangers in the home

    "Hair straighteners and mugs top child burns list," reports BBC News. The news follows an attempt by researchers to get a more accurate picture of what causes children's burns and scalds, and provide clues about how to prevent them happening in the...

  • Media hype blood clot risk of birth control pills

    “Deadly risk of pill used by 1m women: Every GP in Britain told to warn about threat from popular contraceptive,” reports the Mail Online.

    Combined hormonal contraceptives (or “the pill”) are in the news after letters were sent to...

  • Donated human eye cells could help restore vision

    "Cells from eyes of dead 'may give sight to blind'," BBC News reports. This gruesome sounding news is based on a study that found that after being grown in the lab, a type of cell found in the retina could restore limited vision in rats. However, the research was carried out in rats genetically engineered to develop...

  • Can vitamins be used to treat ADHD in adults?

    "Vitamins 'effective in treating ADHD symptoms'," BBC News reports, saying that a wide range of nutrients, including vitamin D, iron and calcium, may improve brain functioning.

    The BBC's accurate report summarises the findings of a trial in which 80 adults with...

  • Genes and diet may influence lifespan

    "Could a blood test help you choose between the Atkins and 5:2? Genes could hold secret to the diets that best suit our bodies," claims the Mail Online.

    However, no such test is available to help you pick your diet craze. It should also be noted that the research the story is based on did not involve humans, but microscopic...

  • Breakthrough in stem cell creation using acid bath

    "Stem cell researchers are heralding a 'major scientific discovery'," BBC News reports.

    Japanese scientists have created pluripotent stem cells (stem cells than can form all parts of the body) essentially by dipping mouse blood cells in acid, and then growing the cells in the presence of specific chemicals. If this could...

  • Peanut allergy therapy shows promise

    "A tough nut cracked? Scientists discover new treatment for peanut allergy sufferers," is the punning headline in The Independent. It comes from research that suggests that exposing children with a peanut allergy to trace elements of peanuts boosts their...

  • Could stem cell research spell the end of baldness?

    “Baldness has plagued men for centuries, but the dreaded comb-over may soon be history,” The Times reports, somewhat prematurely.

    This news comes from laboratory research in which human skin cells were injected into mice. No human has yet been treated for baldness using stem cells.

    The researchers grew stem cells from human...

  • Heart failure patients may have higher cancer risk

    "Heart attacks increase the risk of developing cancer," is the completely inaccurate headline on the Mail Online website. The Mail was attempting to report on a study looking at cancer risk in people with heart failure. This is where damage to the...

  • DDT pesticide exposure may up Alzheimer's risk

    "DDT: Pesticide linked to Alzheimer's," BBC News reports. A US study found that levels of the now banned pesticide DDT were almost four times higher in people with a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

    DDT was widely used as a...

  • New strains of the Black Death could emerge

    "Plague that killed millions is able to rise from the dead,” warns The Independent after a new study looked at the genetic history of the Yersinia pestis bacteria.

    Plague is a devastating disease which causes rapid death if left untreated. There have been three plague pandemics in recorded history. The most famous was the second...

  • Pregnant binge drinking 'affects child's behaviour'

    “One binge in pregnancy ‘harms child years later’: Children ‘more likely to be badly behaved’ if their mother drinks more than two glasses of wine,” reports the Mail Online.

    Obviously, binge drinking in pregnancy is never going to be good for the baby. Though the study the Mail reports on only found slightly increased levels of...

  • 'Good' cholesterol can turn 'bad', study finds

    "Good cholesterol also has a nasty side that can increase the risk of heart attacks," BBC News reports after a US study has suggested that labelling cholesterol either "good" or "bad" is oversimplifying a complex situation.

    It has long been the received wisdom that ...

  • Lingonberries claimed to prevent weight gain

    “Lingonberries ‘could prevent weight gain’,” says The Daily Telegraph, reporting on the so-called “superberries” from Scandinavia. But before rushing your local Swedish grocer, it’s worth noting that these tests were done on mice.

    This research involved mice that were genetically engineered to become ...

  • Does marriage make your bones grow stronger?

    "Marriage really does make you stronger: Husbands have tougher bones than their single counterparts," reports the Mail Online – but apparently this only applies if the man marries after the age of 25.

    The news stems from a study of 632 US men and women with an average age of 56. It examined their bone mineral density (BMD)...

  • Central heating could be contributing to obesity

    “Overheated homes and offices adding to weighty problem,” The Daily Telegraph reports. Dutch researchers have argued that the widespread use of central heating stops people’s bodies using up energy to stay warm, which could be helping drive up obesity levels.

    They make the case that the default setting of most indoor environments,...

  • Are home births 'unethical' and 'dangerous'?

    “Home births could be as dangerous as ‘driving without putting your child's seatbelt on’,” The Independent reports.

    The headline is based on a recently published narrative review that looked at home births and future risk to the child following birth, such...

  • NICE approves migraine magnet therapy

    “Hope for migraine sufferers as gadget that zaps pain with the push of a button is approved,” says the Mail Online, reporting a newly approved magnetic therapy.

    The widespread media coverage follows the publication of new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)...

  • Gastric balloon pill launched in UK

    Most of the UK media has got rather overexcited about the UK launch of Obalon, a gastric balloon in pill form that can be swallowed to help overweight people achieve rapid weight loss without invasive surgery.

    The Obalon pills are designed to be inflated into balloons in the stomach, reducing the free volume of the stomach and...

  • Genetic effects of shift work examined

    “Night work ‘throws body into chaos’,” reports the BBC News website.

    The news is based on a new study from researchers at the University of Surrey which found that the daily rhythms of genes are disrupted by shifting sleep times.

    In this new study, 22 participants were exposed to a 28-hour day without a natural light-dark cycle...

  • Little proof sunbathing cuts heart attack risk

    "Sunbathing 'can cut risk of heart attacks and strokes'," reports the Metro – but there is little hard evidence to back the claim.

    New research has tried to explain previous observations that blood pressure is lower in the summer than in the winter in people with mildly...

  • Wine and chocolate may not 'beat diabetes'

    “Chocolate and red wine 'can beat diabetes’," is the misleading and potentially harmful headline on the Sky News website. The study it reports on was actually looking at specific compounds found in wine and chocolate, called flavonoids.

    The study found that women with a flavonoid-rich diet appeared to have less biological signs...

  • Do diet drinks really make you fatter?

    "Does even Diet Coke make you fat?" asks the Mail Online. The question is prompted by the results of a large US study involving more than 23,000 US adults. It found that people who were overweight or obese drank more sugar-free drinks than people who were a...

  • Women who spend too long sitting may die earlier

    “Why sitting for too long can be deadly for older women... even if they go to the gym,” reports the Mail Online.

    The study this news is based on found an association between sedentary behaviour (sitting or lying down for much of the day) and an increased risk of potentially fatal lifestyle-associated diseases such as ...

  • Claims of a universal cure for cancer 'misleading'

    "A cure for all cancers is on the way" was the frankly bizarre claim on the front page of the Daily Express, not least because the study it was "reporting" on involved blind mole rats, not humans.

    Admittedly, the blind mole rat (Spalax) is an intriguing creature worthy of study. It spends its life underground, is...

  • Gene therapy offers hope for sight loss

    Gene therapy "could be used to treat blindness," BBC News reports. This is just one of the many headlines reporting on the exciting application of gene therapy in visual impairment.

    The news come from a small study involving just six male...

  • UK gout rates rise 30%

    “Britain is the gout capital of Europe with one in 40 people affected by the condition,” the Daily Mirror reports. 

    Gout is a particularly painful form of arthritis, though unlike many other types, its underlying causes can be...

  • Women over 50 warned not to skip smear tests

    "Women aged 50 and older are being warned of the dangers of skipping smear tests," BBC News reports, as a UK study into the impact of cervical cancer screening found that our current screening practices seem to work.

    In England women...

  • Could 'family-style meals' beat childhood obesity?

    “Families who serve dinner at the table have slimmer children,” is the entirely unsupported claim from the Mail Online today.

    The website appears to have taken a leap of imagination by pinning this headline on research which didn't look at families or measure children’s weight.

    The research mentioned in the Mail’s coverage...

  • Is sugar causing the obesity 'epidemic'?

    Sugar hit the headlines last week when the Daily Mail and The Independent led with the quote “Sugar is the new tobacco”. Many news outlets focused on a reported link between high sugar consumption and the rise in obesity and...

  • New warnings issued over deadly DNP 'diet drug'

    “The families of two young people who died after taking the fat-burning pill DNP are campaigning for it to be classified as a class-C drug to criminalise its possession and supply in the hope of preventing more deaths” The Guardian reports.

    This is the latest in a series of warnings about the dangers of 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), which...

  • More Brits than ever are living with cancer

    "UK’s annual cancer diagnosis numbers rise by 50,000 in a decade,” reports The Guardian.

    The headline is based on new figures released by Cancer Research UK, which show that in 2011 (the latest available statistics) 331,487 people in the UK were diagnosed with cancer. In 2001 there were 283,000 diagnoses. The current figures mean...

  • Study examines quick and simple 'dementia test'

    "Alzheimer's disease: 15-minute test could spot early sign of dementia," reports The Daily Telegraph. The news is based on a US study that examined the so-called Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) as a screening tool for mental decline.

    SAGE assesses a variety of people's mental functions and can be...

  • Coffee may aid aspects of memory, study finds

    With exams on the horizon for many students, the somewhat dubious claim made by The Independent is that the "Secret to passing exams is [a] large espresso after revision".

    But while the study it reports on did find an association between caffeine intake and enhanced memory, the effect was inconsistent.

    The study,...

  • Report warns of a looming UK obesity crisis

    “Estimates that half the UK population will be obese by 2050 "underestimate" the problem, a report has claimed,” according to BBC News, while the Daily Mail describes how a “bombshell report reveals true scale of crisis” around the nation’s bulging waistlines.

    The report, published by the National Obesity Forum, calls for...

  • A small amount of coffee will not dehydrate you

    “Coffee is 'as hydrating' as drinking water,” is the claim in the Daily Express. It reports on a new study suggesting that moderate coffee consumption does not dehydrate the body, as some had previously thought.

    The research behind the headline was a small experimental study including 50 healthy male volunteers who were used to...

  • US recession saw more Google stress searches

    "Google searches for stress-related illnesses rose during the recession," the Mail Online reports. The news comes from research looking at how US Google search trends for health complaints changed during the period researchers dubbed the "Great Recession".

    The recession, which affected most western countries, was...

  • Medical 'superglue' shows promise for heart surgery

    "A medical superglue has been developed that has the potential to patch heart defects on the operating table," BBC News reports. The glue has currently only be used in animals, but the results are encouraging.

    Medical glue is currently used to close minor skin wounds in some operations, but its use has been limited for...

  • Risks of infertility treatments 'overhyped'

    “IVF births carry five times risk of complications,” the Daily Mail reports.

    While this headline is essentially true, it is a classic example of a “relative risk” which sounds frightening out of context. In this case, the headline ignores the fact that the...

  • 'Piggy-backing proteins' could kill cancer cells

    “Cancer-killing "sticky balls" can destroy tumour cells in the blood and may prevent cancers spreading,” BBC News reports.

    The headlines follow a laboratory study which found that “piggy-backing” two proteins to white blood cells caused cancer cells to die.

    Cancer can spread in three ways; directly, via the lymphatic...

  • Spoon-feeding link to child obesity 'not proven'

    "Spoon-fed babies more likely to be overweight," reports The Independent. The study the news comes from found an association between feeding techniques and weight gain, although many other factors may also be involved.

    The study looked at whether the way mothers introduced solid foods to their babies (weaning) was linked to...

  • Does a high-fibre diet help relieve asthma?

    "Eating more fibre could help treat symptoms of asthma, scientists say," The Independent reports. This headline is based on a mouse study that looked at the role that different types of dietary fibre play in the gut and its effect on allergic airway inflammation.

    Allergic airway inflammation – which happens in conditions...

  • Could cannabis compound soothe arthritis pain?

    “Synthetic cannabis-like molecule developed in lab could help osteoarthritis sufferers,” reports The Daily Telegraph.

    Anecdotal reports of cannabis’s ability to soothe chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis have been available for many years....

  • Vit D in pregnancy may help child muscle strength

    "Higher levels of maternal vitamin D during pregnancy have been linked to better muscle development in children," BBC News reports.

    The headline is prompted by a UK study involving more than 600 mothers and their children. It found that at the age of four, the children of women who had higher levels of vitamin D in late...

  • Experts say sadness is wrongly being medicalised

    Two experts have warned that antidepressants are being “doled out as cure for simple sadness,” reports The Daily Telegraph.

    The news is based on an opinion piece written by two professors in the British Medical Journal. It is one of an ongoing...

  • MPs criticise Tamiflu secrecy and stockpiling

    "Drug companies accused of holding back complete information on clinical trials," The Guardian reports.

    MPs have just published a report expressing concern that drug companies are withholding evidence about how effective drugs such as ...

  • Buffaloberries – 2014's new 'superfood'

    "The buffaloberry is the new superfood of 2014," the Mail Online declares. But at this stage there is very limited evidence to back up the hype.

    The website reports on laboratory research analysing the chemical constituents of the buffaloberry fruit. This is a fruit native to northern and western North America. Buffaloberry...

  • Early animal research into blocking breast cancer

    "'An injection that prevents breast cancer is being developed by scientists," is the news on the Mail Online website.

    This news seems a heartening way to start the year, but a caveat is that the research is in the very early...

  • Could vitamin E slow dementia?

    Research suggests that a daily dose of vitamin E could help people with dementia, BBC News reports.

    However, high doses of vitamin E are not safe or suitable for everybody and should not be taken without medical advice.

    The BBC reports on a US trial with a group of 613 people with mild to moderate...

  • The Behind the Headlines 2013's Top Five of Top Fives

    As we move towards the end of the year, like all news sources, we fall back on that classic space filler – the list story. So without further ado, here is the official Behind the Headlines Top Five of Top Fives stories of 2013.

     

    The top five "Good work team!" stories of the year

    We can often get bogged down in...

  • Behind the Headlines 2013 Quiz of the Year

    In 2013, Behind the Headlines has covered more than 500 health stories that made it into the mainstream media. If you've been paying attention you should find this quiz easy and fun.

    Why not test your knowledge of 2013's health news with our month-by-month quiz?

    Answers are at the foot of the page (no peeking!).

     

    In...

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