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Podcast Health Check

Health Check


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  • How giving babies peanut butter could cut allergy
    Babies, peanut butter and allergies; Psychologist Professor Elaine Fox on how to navigate change; how changing the clocks twice a year affects our health and why misophonia, the strong reaction to sounds of other people breathing, yawning or chewing, could be more common than we thought. Image Credit: Mohd Hafiez Mohd Razali / EyeEm
  • Obesity drug: New hope for weight loss?
    “Diet and exercise” has been the weight-loss mantra for decades but a drug designed for diabetes patients could now offer hope to people who are obese, at a time when researchers are warning that half of the world’s population are expected to be overweight or obese by 2035. One of the first to have injections of Semaglutide in the UK was Jan, who has battled with her weight since childhood. Once the medication took effect she lost four stone and said her hunger disappeared. Professor Stephen O’Rahilly from the University of Cambridge, explains how the drug mimics our body’s natural appetite signalling but its effects disappear once you stop the weekly injections. Family doctor Margaret McCartney says it might help some who are obese but warns that it has also gained a reputation as a “Hollywood skinny drug", reflecting some of society’s ideas about beauty and celebrity culture. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Paula McGrath (Photo: A jogger running around Clifton Downs, Bristol. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA)
  • How to cope with earthquake trauma
    A month on from the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, we assess what kind of impact the disaster may have had on mental health. We hear from Professor Metin Basoglu, an expert in earthquake trauma and director of the Istanbul Centre for Behavioural Sciences. He explains how it is a unique kind of trauma rooted in fear and compounded by the uncontrollable nature of earthquakes and the thousands of aftershocks that come following the initial disaster. Prof Basoglu tells us about the psychological treatment he developed based on his research with 10,000 survivors of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey and how an earthquake simulator can be used to tackle trauma symptoms. We hear from researchers in the US and Kenya about a new discovery that has ended 100 years of searching for an airborne chemical that could hold the key to the way tsetse flies mate – and help to tackle the diseases they spread in humans. Our guest in the studio is family doctor Ann Robinson who has the latest research on global health. Could socialising more often be linked to a longer life? And why might half of the world’s population be obese by 2035? We’ll explore all this and more. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Gerry Holt Image: Survivors of the earthquake in the city of Jenderes in the countryside of Aleppo, north-western Syria. Credit: NurPhoto / Contributor
  • Vaccines: A tale of the unexpected
    We delve into the science of how some vaccines could have unexpected effects beyond their intended target. They are called “non-specific effects” and we are only just at the beginning of our understanding despite scientists documenting this curious biological phenomenon more than 100 years ago. One of the earliest vaccines to be studied was the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine for Tuberculosis, better known as the BCG. Professor Christine Stabell-Benn gives us a history lesson and brings us up to date with her team’s research at the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau, Western Africa. Also in the programme we hear about a new device for fixing bones being trialled in Gaza and Sri Lanka – and already in use in Ukraine. We hear from surgeons about what kind of patients they are treating and from UK researchers on hopes it will offer a low-cost, easy-to-make alternative in countries where there are shortages of these fixators. Our studio guest this week is BBC News health and science journalist Philippa Roxby who talks us through the latest after an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Plus, we look at new studies on long Covid and how much exercise we should be aiming to do each day. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Gerry Holt and Emily Knight
  • Supporting Ukrainian children
    From human milk banks to babies born during conflict, this week we're all about the health of children and newborns. The most vulnerable premature babies benefit from human milk, but their mother's milk is often not available. We visit a human milk bank to explore how donors are making a difference. Dr Ann Robinson shares some surprising new research looking at a novel way of preventing short-sightedness. And one year on from the start of the war, Smitha Mundasad talks to a Ukrainian mother who was forced to flee her country while 7 months pregnant. In conversation with Sasha Yarova from War Child, Smitha finds out about support available for the thousands of Ukrainian children now making new homes in countries around Europe. Presenter: Smitha Mundasad Producer: Gerry Holt & Ilan Goodman

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