Explainer: What is diphtheria?

Given the global surge in diphtheria incidence, it’s important to focus on vaccination against this potentially serious bacterial infection that primarily affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.   By Florica Brahma The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning regarding the outbreak of diphtheria, a potentially serious bacterial infection that primarily affects […]

gastric issues and stress

Fact-check: The connection between gastric issues and stress in relationships

Stress, anxiety, and unresolved emotional conflicts can manifest in various bodily symptoms. According to a trending video on Instagram, there is a strong connection between the indigestion problems one may be facing and the strained relationship they share with their father. Does that mean the next time your stomach churns uncomfortably, you need to consider […]

Paternal smoking

Fact-check: Paternal smoking, obesity can harm unborn babies

Researchers have identified notable associations between paternal factors and birth outcomes, encompassing preterm birth, low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA), and high birth weight prevalences.  “If a man is a smoker, does it affect his unborn baby?” asked one of our readers recently. Traditionally, women are believed to have the biggest influence on […]

cyanide exposures

Fact-check: Not all cyanide exposures are murderous

Estimating how lethal a dose can be is challenging, due to various factors, such as the specific compound involved. In the true-crime documentary ‘Curry & Cyanide – The Jolly Joseph Case’, available on Netflix, a toxicologist asserts, “When you come across cyanide in a case of death, first rule out murder.” While cyanide is often […]

malaria vaccines

Explainer: How malaria vaccines can eradicate the disease

There are two malaria vaccines recommended by the WHO, and they act against P. falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. Nearly 249 million cases of malaria and 6,08,000 malaria-related deaths were recorded globally in 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region continues to bear the brunt of the […]

Working night shifts

Fact-check: Working night shifts takes a toll on one’s health

Apart from circadian misalignment and its effect on physical health, studies show that shift work sleep disorder can also exacerbate mental health issues.  “Is it really such a bad idea to take up a job that requires you to work at night?” asked one of our readers recently. When it comes to the health consequences […]

protein deficiency

Explainer: The perils of protein deficiency

Poor dietary choices, food insecurity, certain medical conditions, and vegetarian or vegan diets lacking in protein-rich sources can contribute to protein-energy malnutrition. By Florica Brahma Protein is often hailed as the building block of life, and for good reason. It plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle repair and growth, hormone production, […]

Eggs, fruits, oats

Fact-check: Eggs, fruits, oats are not unhealthy breakfast

There isn’t much nutritional value to white bread though. A high-glycemic index food, it can increase hunger and promote overeating. Instagram videos can be entertaining, but they can be misleading too. A funny video rues about the challenges of eating a healthy breakfast, given that everything, from eggs and oats to bread and fruits, has […]

HPV vaccination

Explainer: Why HPV vaccination is the most effective strategy against cervical cancer

The fourth-most prevalent cancer among women globally, cervical cancer has a notable impact on low- and middle-income countries.  By Florica Brahma There have to be better ways to beat cervical cancer than social media influencers faking their own death in order to spread awareness about the disease. Earlier this month, during the interim budget speech […]


Leprosy: 3 myths that refuse to die

Despite being one of the oldest diseases known to mankind, substantial gaps in our fundamental knowledge of this disease hinder global efforts to eradicate it. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, has been surrounded by myths and misconceptions for centuries, contributing to the social stigma attached to this ancient malady. Regardless of significant advancements in […]

weight loss

Fact-check: Consume beans for better digestion, weight loss

Instagram video is right about the positive impact of consuming beans on gut health and curbing cravings for unhealthy foods. An engaging video on Instagram talks about the positive impact of consuming beans on gut health. It further states that higher intake of beans may contribute to lesser consumption of unhealthy junk food.  First Check […]


Fact-check: No need to walk 10,000 steps daily to stay fit

Research findings underscore the importance of prioritising the quality and intensity of physical activity over fixating on reaching a particular step target. The “10,000 steps a day” mantra has long been touted as the golden rule for achieving optimal health and fitness. However, recent scientific research challenges this widely accepted belief, revealing that the magic […]


Explainer: What is SAD?

Individuals with limited access to natural light, such as those working in windowless offices or living in areas with prolonged periods of darkness, are more susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder.  As winter settles in and daylight hours dwindle, many individuals find themselves grappling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A type of depression that typically occurs […]


3 good reasons to walk more in 2024

Incorporating walking into one’s daily routine is a convenient and easily accessible health solution, that is low risk and low cost, for most people. As you make health resolutions for the New Year, don’t forget to include walking in your list. Not only is it a great way to beat the winter lethargy, walking also […]

Menstrual hygiene: The health crisis we don’t talk about

Social media posts shed light on the plights of countless women in Gaza, compelled to resort to menstruation-delaying pills and makeshift alternatives due to the unavailability of menstrual hygiene products. As the Israel-Hamas war continues to intensify, social media platforms are abuzz with claims and counter-claims about the politics and people affected by the conflict. […]


Explainer: How dangerous is the JN.1 COVID variant?

JN.1 was identified in the US in September 2023, exhibiting a slow rate of spread in its early stages. However, in recent weeks, its global prevalence has increased substantially, with the WHO designating it as a “variant of interest”. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the coronavirus variant named JN.1 as a “variant of […]


Fact-check: Meftal is not unsafe for use

In its latest advisory, the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission has stated that the painkiller can trigger DRESS syndrome, a rare but severe allergic reaction. The recent drug safety advisory by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC), urging healthcare practitioners and individuals to monitor potential adverse reactions associated with the painkiller Meftal, has caused much alarm, with conversations […]

White Lung Syndrome

Explainer: Making sense of White Lung Syndrome

While the exact cause of the outbreak is under investigation, there is scant evidence to suggest that the cases stem from a novel virus. The recent pneumonia outbreak in China has spurred numerous myths and fears about an impending pandemic. While the exact cause of this outbreak is currently under investigation, experts concur that there […]

dengue cases

Explainer: How climate change causes a surge in dengue cases

The transmission of dengue is intricately linked to three pivotal factors, namely, rainfall, humidity, and temperature, which can create an optimal environment for the multiplication of mosquitoes carrying the disease. As the dengue cases continue to surge, the association between climate change and the dynamics of pathogen-vector and host relationships is hard to ignore. There […]


World AIDS Day: Debunking 4 myths about the disease

Research consistently indicates that individuals, irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status, can be susceptible to the virus. World AIDS Day, designated on 1st December, is a global movement to unite people in the fight against the public health issue. As per latest data provided by the Joint United Nations Programme on […]

mental health

Explainer: How food insecurity affects mental health

Recent conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine and Congo underscore how the persistent uncertainty about the next meal’s source can cause chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. Nearly 70 per cent of the global population suffering from hunger reside in regions marred by war and violence. Recent conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine and Congo underscore how such […]


Fact-check: Japan hasn’t banned BHT due to health risks

BHT is a lab-made chemical that is permitted for use as a preservative in food products within specified concentration limits. There is a widespread rumour circulating on social media platforms that Japan has prohibited the sale of popular American cereals such as Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies. The purported reason behind this ban is the […]

fried rice syndrome

Explainer: What is “fried rice syndrome”?

Bacillus cereus can exist on raw rice, and if it’s not stored or cooked properly, the bacteria can multiply and produce toxins that lead to food poisoning. An old viral video has resurfaced on social media platforms spreading fear and confusion about the risks associated with consuming unrefrigerated leftover foods. The video claims that a […]

World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day 2023: Cut down on air pollution to reduce blood sugar levels

About one-fifth of the global burden of type 2 diabetes is attributable PM2·5 pollution. Air pollution mitigation can play an essential role in reducing the global incidence. In the midst of alarming air pollution levels and a steady surge in diabetes cases in India, a recent study finds that poor air quality is a substantial risk factor […]

Coconut oil

Fact-check: Coconut oil cannot cure Alzheimer’s, heart diseases

First Check studied over a dozen research papers published on the subject and found no conclusive evidence to support the viral social media claims. When viral social media videos hail coconut oil as the natural remedy for various health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular diseases, it’s important to check the veracity of these […]


Fact-check: 3 myths about osteoarthritis

Globally, 15% individuals, aged 30 years or older, are affected by this degenerative joint disease. According to a recent study published in The Lancet Rheumatology, the global burden of osteoarthritis is expected to reach one billion by 2050. Based on data spanning three decades (1990-2020) from over 200 countries, the study found that 15% individuals, […]

Explainer: Why long work hours are injurious to health

From cardiovascular disease and heightened stress levels, to depression, anxiety and compromised sleep quality, the impact of the hustle culture on physical and mental health is scientifically established.


Debunking 5 myths on Nipah Virus

In the digital age, information spreads like wildfire, often faster than the truth can catch up. While the world is grappling with various challenges, the Nipah virus has emerged as a cause for concern. Nipah virus, named after the Malaysian village where it was first identified in 1999, is a zoonotic pathogen, which means it […]


Explainer: How AI spreads health misinformation

AI-driven algorithms on social media platforms and websites often recommend content that promotes unproven treatments, conspiracy theories, and false information. As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to permeate our lives, a growing concern has emerged – the spread of misinformation, particularly in healthcare. Misinformation, fueled by AI, is a pressing issue that threatens the credibility of […]


Fact-check: Want to become taller? Ashwagandha is not the answer!

Height is primarily determined by genetics, and the growth plates in the human body close after adolescence. If viral videos on YouTube are to be believed, ashwagandha – also known as Withania somnifera, an evergreen shrub used in Ayurvedic medicine – has the ability to increase one’s height. You can see some of the videos (in Hindi) here, here, […]


Fact-check: Dietary choices, physical activity not the only determinants of weight gain

Maintenance of healthy body weight is also affected by one’s genetics, developmental history, physiology, age, environment, ethnicity, and social background. The magic weight loss formulas and quick fixes ride on the popular belief is that the dynamics of weight gain and loss revolve around the simple concept of calories consumed versus calories expended. Although it […]


Fact-check: The link between biodiversity and mental health

There’s an urgent need to prioritise the health of our ecosystems, not only for the preservation of biodiversity, but also as a public health measure of global importance.  In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence has shed light on the intricate connection between biodiversity and mental health. In marginalised communities, grappling with the […]


Fact-check: Irradiated foods are not radioactive

During irradiation, gamma rays, x-rays, or high-energy electrons pass through the food, destroying or inactivating bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness. The recent news of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and three Cabinet ministers eating a meal that included fish sashimi harvested off the shores of Fukushima has garnered worldwide attention. The Japanese government […]


Menopause: Shining light on vital facts

Numerous symptoms attributed to menopause often occur in the perimenopausal phase that encompasses years preceding the final menstrual cycle. The time that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles, aka menopause, is often shrouded in mystery and unscientific narratives. It is important to shine light on the vital facts so that women have access […]


Fact-check: Can the use of plastic food containers cause cancer?

The safety of storing food in plastic containers, typically, depends on the type of plastic and its intended use. When the question is about the safety of storing food in plastic containers – a common practice in many households – there is a growing sense of uncertainty. This can be attributed to the lack of […]


Fact-check: 5 common myths about conjunctivitis

Dr Vijitha S Vempuluru, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology, AIIMS Bibinagar, Telangana, India, helps set the record straight. India is currently witnessing the outbreak of a highly contagious eye infection called conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. While government health agencies and medical professionals are actively engaged in raising awareness about the condition, there are […]


Explainer: What causes high cholesterol?

Cutting down on the consumption of processed foods and processed meats, such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs, can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. A recent report by the World Health Organization, conducted in partnership with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, has highlighted a substantial increase in the consumption of highly […]

drinking water

Fact-check: Higher water intake doesn’t assure weight loss

Overhydration can lead to water poisoning, intoxication, or disruption of brain function. By Florica Brahma It is commonly believed that drinking more water can help one lose weight faster. While it may help reduce calorie intake – as you feel fuller after consuming water – weight loss is not guaranteed. Currently available scientific evidence about […]

Explainer: What BMI can and cannot tell you about your health

Ideally suited for population-level studies, describing obesity by BMI can result in inaccurate assessment of adiposity. By Florica Brahma The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a metric system used to calculate body fat percentage by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by one’s height in meters squared. BMI = kg/m2. It was first introduced by Belgian […]


Fact-check: Debunking 3 myths about veganism

Proteins are not only found in meat and dairy products, but also in plant-based diets. As the world continues to tackle the growing challenges of climate change and global warming, veganism has emerged as a popular lifestyle choice. However, there are many misconceptions that prevail regarding vegan food choices. Here is a look at some […]