14:28 Breaking news – the Northern Irish health minister has just been appointed the leader of Sinn Fein
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) January 23, 2017
14:15 A bit of a tonic for these post-truth times, with a report from theHuff Post that scientists have come up with a psychological ‘vaccine’ for fake news.
The team ‘inoculated’ people with some fake news story lines surrounding a climate science issue while presenting them with a fact-based report on it – and found this helped to prevent them being taken in by a subsequent fake news story that denied climate change.
Lead research Dr Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and replicating like a virus.
‘We wanted to see if we could find a “vaccine” by pre-emptively exposing people to a small amount of the type of misinformation they might experience. A warning that helps preserve the facts.
‘The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible.’
11:40 A US study has concluded that e-cigarettes are getting teens hooked on nicotine,the Daily Mail reports. The researchers say e-cigs are attracting people to the vaping habit who would never normally have taken up smoking. They say it raises further concerns about the devices acting as a gateway to tobacco use, after previous studies that young people are more likely to end up smoking cigarettes if they try vaping.
It comes after Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians both gave their backing to the use of e-cigarettes for people trying to quit smoking, arguing that vaping is much safer than smoking.
9:30 The top health news story of the day is the Food Standards Agency’s warning that acrylamide poses a cancer risk – with the media reporting that this could include toast and well cooked roast potatoes.
The BBC reports that the Food Standards Agency is not clear exactly how much acrylamide can be tolerated – however, it does believe that we are eating too much of it. So it says people should aim for a light golden colour when cooking starchy foods such as bread and potatoes, as acrylamide is produced when starchy foods are roasted, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures.
However, there is debate how dangerous acrylamide really is. David Spiegelhalter, professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, told the BBC: ’Even adults with the highest consumption of acrylamide would need to consume 160 times as much to reach a level that might cause increased tumours in rats.’