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Inside Health


Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.


United States


Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.






How do cold and flu remedies help when we're ill?

As the nights draw in and the spluttering sounds of coughs and colds seem to be all around us, presenter James Gallagher is getting ahead this year and stocking up his medicine cabinet. He gets some help from Inside Health’s resident GP Margaret McCartney and virologist Lindsay Broadbent from the University of Surrey to take look at a few of the nation’s best-loved remedies and find out what they will actually do to help him when he, inevitably, gets ill. Presenter: James Gallagher Speakers: Dr Margaret McCartney, GP and expert in evidence-based medicine Dr Lindsay Broadbent, Lecturer in Virology at the University of Surrey Reshma Malde, Superintendent Pharmacist, John Bell & Croyden Producer: Tom Bonnett


What's stopping us from exercising in older age?

Exercise in older age is high on the agenda, but the idea that with age comes bags of time and a desire to ‘get out there’ isn’t true for a lot of us. How do you juggle exercise around caring for partners, grandchildren or staying in work? What if you haven’t exercised for years? What can your body take, and how has it changed with age? James Gallagher hears how octogenarian athlete ‘Irongran’ keeps going, he explores the mental and physical barriers that stop us exercising, and he finds out what he might feel like in 40 years as he pulls on an ageing suit. Presenter: James Gallagher Guests: Edwina Brocklesby, athete and founder of SilverFit Dr Dan Gordon, Associate Professor in Cardiorespiratory Exercise Physiology, Anglia Ruskin University Dr Katrina McDonald, judo specialist and Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University Dr Josephine Perry, sports psychologist and founder of Performance in Mind Professor Cassandra Phoenix, Department of Sports and Exercise Sciences at the University of Durham Dr Dharani Yerrakalva, GP and NIHR Doctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge Producer: Tom Bonnett


Inside a sexual assault referral centre

The issue of sexual assault hasn’t been far from the headlines in recent weeks - but what kind of help is available for people who have been through it? James visits Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester where he meets the people who offer invaluable medical and emotional support to patients. He also talks to a young woman who describes her experience of using the service, which she credits with saving her life. And why does Covid-19 seem to be flooring people again? James finds out that the body’s own defences are partly to blame. Lastly, is it safe to flush dog poo down the toilet? We clear up a family debate… Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Gerry Holt Content editor: Erika Wright Production coordinator: Jonathan Harris Technical producer: Tim Heffer If you have been affected by child or adult sexual abuse or violence, details of help and support are available at, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 0800 077 077.


Migraines and Headaches

1 in 7 people live with migraines around the world, and the condition costs the UK economy billions each year. Attacks can be debilitating and all-consuming, but a new treatment recently approved by NICE might even help the most stubborn cases find some relief. James Gallagher is joined by neurologist Alex Sinclair from the University of Birmingham, GP Richard Wood from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, and physiotherapist Anne-Marie Logan from St George’s University Hospitals to answer your questions on migraine and headache; from understanding why migraines exist in the first place, to if foods like takeaways could be triggers, and what these new treatments mean for the future of migraine management. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Julia Ravey Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Technical Producers: Sue Malliot and Donald Macdonald


When does sitting become bad for health?

How many hours do you spend sitting down per day? Six? Maybe eight? Or 10? Between commuting, working and relaxing, sitting can soon add up to hours and hours. In this week’s Inside Health we’re going to delve into the science to find out exactly how much sitting is too much; when does it become worrying for our health? James visits the lab at Leicester University where he meets Professor Charlotte Edwardson to explore what prolonged sitting does to the body and he’ll find out whether there’s anything you can do to offset the effects of sitting a lot. We’ll hear about the origins of sitting research - and just because we like to explore every angle on a topic, we’ll hear all about why standing too much can also be a worry. James visits a school in east London where the children are really focusing on how much time they spend sitting. They’re taking part in the Active Movement programme with the aim of bringing lots of action into the school day - and take it home too. Sounds nice and relaxing doesn’t it? Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Gerry Holt Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Studio Producer: Matthew Chamberlain


Why is syphilis making a comeback?

When the Government released the latest statistics on STIs in the summer, one in particular stood out. Syphilis. A sexually transmitted infection which might make you think more 1823 than 2023. But figures in England are currently at their highest since 1948, a rise which is reflected across the UK. James Gallagher speaks to people who have first-hand experience with syphilis to work out why we aren't talking about the disease and it's increase more. And James gets on his bike with resident GP Margaret McCartney to find out whether tracking her stats via her many exercise monitors is improving her physical and mental health or making it worse. Dr Brendon Stubbs, Clinical-academic physiotherapist at Kings College London and Dr Eoin Whelan, Professor in Business Analytics & Society at the University of Galway help unpick the evidence. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Clare Salisbury Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Studio Producer: Sarah Hockley


On the trail of a new street drug

What happens when a new drug hits the UK’s streets? And how are illicit drugs here changing – and why? James follows the trail of the first case of “zombie drug” xylazine in the UK and hears some powerful personal stories along the way. The story begins in Solihull, in the West Midlands, where 43-year-old Karl Warburton was found dead in May 2022. He had a mix of xylazine, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in his body. James visits a local addiction clinic where Mark describes the fear and compulsion many addicts face. He tells James about his journey to recovery and we meet Simon who’s on a mission to help people like Mark into a new life. Next, James meets toxicologists at a busy hospital lab in Birmingham where he finds out how xylazine was first detected. Then he travels to London to meet a university academic who first raised the alarm about the drug, and visits a cramped room containing the paper records she keeps detailing every drug death in Britain from the past 25 years. James goes on a surprising and, at times, emotional journey as he gets a rare insight into the world of illegal drugs and the parts of the NHS that treat addiction. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Gerry Holt Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Technical producer: Andrew Garratt Locations: Solihull Integrated Addiction Services, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust Department of Toxicology, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital The National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (NPSAD), King’s College London


What difference could new Alzheimer’s disease drugs make?

Until recently, breakthroughs in treating Alzheimer’s disease were non-existent. But two new drugs have shown promise in moderately slowing memory and thinking problems for people with early-stage disease. While welcoming the idea of a ‘new era’ for treating Alzheimer’s disease, how much of a difference could these drugs make for people living with the condition? James Gallagher visits a Memory Café in Doynton to hear about the daily challenges people living with dementia face, and their feelings about the new treatments on the horizon. Lauren Walker, Alzheimer’s disease researcher at Newcastle University, gives an overview of the protein these drugs target in the brain, and Liz Coulthard, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at the University of Bristol, explains how these treatments might impact patient's lives. After listening to our “How hot is too hot for human health?” programme, one of our listeners contacted to ask how the heat experienced during a hot flush impacts the body. James asks Clare Eglin, lecturer in applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth, what happens in the body during a hot flush and hears about how many others symptoms are actually caused by the menopause from GP, Margaret McCartney. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Julia Ravey Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Johnathan Harris Technical Producer: Tim Heffer


Could weight-loss drugs treat addiction?

Barely a day goes by without more headlines around new weight-loss drugs, from the issue of global shortages, to investigations into suicide risk, and debate over just how long people will need to be on them. But in this episode of Inside Health we’re going to look at something slightly different - and perhaps unexpected. James Gallagher meets lifelong dieter Cheri who has lost just over three stone on semaglutide but she’s also noticed other effects from her weekly injection; a calmer mind and a complete lack of desire for her much-loved vapes. She wants to know what’s going on – so we seek out some scientists to help us get to the bottom of it. From the evidence gathered so far, are there hints that these drugs could offer potential to treat serious addiction? And have you ever heard of “bed rotting”? It doesn’t sound particularly enticing - but James gives it a go in the name of science and we explain all in the programme with the help of two experts. What health questions do you want us to answer? Email the team at Declared interests: Professor Giles Yeo: "I have a PhD student part-funded by Novo Nordisk. I consult for Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly." Dr Tony Goldstone: "I have previously been a member of Data Safety Monitoring Board for clinical trials of Liraglutide for obesity by Novo Nordisk, and have received an honorarium as a conference speaker from Novo Nordisk." Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Gerry Holt Editor: Erika Wright Production Coordinator: Jonathan Harris Studio Producer: Duncan Hannant (Photo: Cheri Ferguson with her Ozempic pen. Credit Cheri Ferguson)


What happened to mpox?

One year after the peak of UK infections, can we determine what actions brought mpox cases down? A year ago, mpox – the virus formally known as monkeypox – was spreading in the UK. These infections largely impacted the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men community, with news cases peaking at 350 per week. One of these individuals was Martin Joseph, who tells James Gallagher how a lack of accessible information and the stigma he observed during his illness inspired him to create a mpox-based podcast so others wouldn’t feel so alone. Thankfully, 2023 so far has told a different story for mpox. Infections in the UK have remained relatively low, and in May, the World Health Organisation declared the mpox global health emergency over. But what helped bring the UK outbreak under control? James is joined by Jake Dunning, infectious diseases doctor and researcher at the University of Oxford, and Claire Dewsnap, sexual health doctor and president of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), to discuss potential factors, takeaways and whether we are really ‘done’ with mpox. How often should we go to the dentist? Listener Mary emailed to query the time needed between check-ups. James hears the evidence from Janet Clarkson, professor of dentistry at the University of Dundee, who explains the unlikely origins of our bi-annual appointments! Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Julia Ravey Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Studio Producer: Donald McDonald (Photo: Monkeypox Credit: Uma Shankar sharma | Getty Images)


How fast should you eat your food?

Our guinea-pig presenter James Gallagher has been eating either extremely fast or excruciatingly slow to figure out what our eating speed does to our health. Dr Sarah Berry from Kings College London explains it’s not good news if you devour your dinner! And we get to the bottom of the headlines on cancer and the artificial sweetener aspartame. James and Prof David Spiegelhalter discuss why these cancer-scare stories keep on happening. Get in touch with the team (especially if you have any questions about headache or migraine) on Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Julia Ravey Editor: Erika Wright Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan Harris Studio Manager: Giles Aspen


How hot is too hot for human health?

After the hottest June in history and record-breaking temperatures last year, the UK is really feeling the heat. But, we’re not alone. Last week the world experienced the hottest day in history - and forecasters warn this is just a taste of what is to come. Here on Inside Health we love a tricky question - so in the first episode of the new series we’re chasing down the answer to a pretty timely one, how hot is too hot for our health. James heads into the lab to explore exactly what is going on inside our bodies when it gets hotter. He gets wired up and locked inside a heated chamber to find out what factors matter most, from core temperature to humidity, and learns which is more deadly, cold or heat. He also hears about a surprising tip to stay safe in the heat. Do join us on what promises to be a rather hot and sweaty journey… How hot is too hot for you? And what other health issues should we be covering? Do get in touch via email at Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Gerry Holt Editor: Erika Wright Production Coordinator: Jonathan Harris Technical Producer: Tim Heffer Image: James Gallagher in the lab. Credit: Dan Welsh


Did Covid turn us into teeth grinders?

James Gallagher finds out if we've turned into a nation of grinders after reports from dentists of increased clenching and cracking of teeth. Margaret McCartney answers your feedback about the new weight-loss drug, exercise for your back, sperm counts and then goes for retail therapy with James to discover how useful shopping data could be for understanding our health.


Parkinson's and Ballet

James meets Ian who has Parkinson's disease and hears how ballet has helped with his symptoms, as a major new review of the evidence shows exercise really does make a difference. And microplastics which can be found in drinking water and food stuffs have now been identified in human vein tissue. James unpicks what this means for our health. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Erika Wright and Harry Lewis


NHS weight-loss drug

James Gallagher asks whether a weight-loss drug on the NHS heralds a new era in tackling obesity? He meets Jan who lost nearly 4 stone after being part of a trial taking a weekly injection of Semaglutide for 15 months alongside advice on meals and exercise. However, when people stop taking the drug the weight starts to go back on. Add to that supply shortages with heightened private demand and some doctors think the drug is as controversial as they come. James unpicks the ethical and societal dilemmas against a backdrop of half the world's population projected to be overweight or obese by 2035. Producer: Erika Wright Declared interests Dr Margaret McCartney: "No conflicts to declare." Prof Sir Stephen O’Rahilly : "in the past has been a remunerated consultant and has had research collaboration with Novo Nordisk." Professor Naveed Sattar: "consulted for and/or received speaker honoraria from Novo Nordisk, Abbott Laboratories, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Hanmi Pharmaceuticals, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi; and grant support paid to his university from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, and Roche Diagnostics. He was a co-investigator in lifestyle trials such as DiRECT and co-lead for STANDby."


Back pain

Lower back pain impacts millions of adults every year and, in many cases, diagnosis can be murky. Non-specific pain is personal and complex, driven by factors such as injury, sensitivity and perception. But are there methods to help manage back pain and live a happier life in the process? James Gallagher is joined at a yoga studio in Stockbridge, Hampshire by Emma Godfrey, psychology researcher at Kings College London, chiropractor David Elliot, physiotherapist Richard Husselbee, and yoga instructor, Alison Trewhela to answer all your back pain questions (and takes to the mat himself to try some gentle healthy lower back poses). Producer: Julia Ravey


Sperm Counts

James Gallagher investigates whether there is a decline in male sperm including the results of his own sperm count analysis. He meets a couple who conceived after having treatment for a varicocele, enlarged veins in the testes that can heat the sperm up and the leading known cause of male infertility. And James is joined by leading scientists in the field to debate whether sperm counts are falling. Producer: Erika Wright


Psychedelics for depression

Can magic mushrooms help your mental health? James Gallagher cuts through the hype and examines the evidence to find out if psychedelics can treat depression. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald


What soaring food prices are doing to our health

The cost of everything is soaring, but what toll is that taking on our health? We’re at a food pantry scheme in Coventry meeting mums Danielle and Ellie to find out how hard putting food on the table has become. Dr Megan Blake and Prof Sir Michael Marmot help explain what that does to our bodies now and in the long term. Get in touch: Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald


Women and heart attacks

Dawn had a heart attack but 'powered through' making the Christmas dinner before seeking help - because she put her symptoms down to anxiety and backache. Her interventional cardiologist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Professor Vijay Kunadian, sees many women like her who aren't seen quickly enough or given the right medication to improve their chances of survival. We hear about research which reveals that women are much more likely to die of a heart attack than men because of delays and lack of treatment. Learning the piano can help to improve the way our brains process audible and visual information - a task we carry out effortlessly when looking and listening as we do things like cross the road safely or chat with friends. Dr Karin Petroni explains how even just a few microseconds in processing speed can make a difference - so she's going to carry on playing drums. James Gallagher's piano version of Giuseppe Verdi's La donna è mobile/When the saints go marching in (trad) arranged by Nancy Litten/Kenneth Bartels (ABRSM)