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BBC World Service - Health Check

Health Check

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Health Check

  • Toxic Positivity

    In the last two years, online searches for ‘toxic positivity’ have spiked. In this discussion from the Cheltenham Science Festival, we find out what toxic positivity is, and how it can hurt you and people around you.

    In front of a live audience, Claudia Hammond is joined by psychologist Dr Linda Blair, GP and educator Dr Anisha Patel, and wellbeing consultant and content creator Benjy Kusi.

    Linda has been interested in the rise in the use of the term ‘toxic positivity’ and has noticed how it’s having an impact on our wellbeing. She reveals why it is important for us not to suppress ‘negative’ feelings and emotions.

    Anisha was diagnosed with bowel cancer when she was 39. She authored the book Everything You Hoped You’d Never Need To Know About Bowel Cancer, where she speaks about her diagnosis and treatment journey. She experienced first-hand the harm that toxic positivity can do.

    Benjy works with many different companies to help improve their inclusion and wellbeing practices. He’s the author of the book Hope This Helps and posts frequent videos about lots of tricky issues on TikTok and Instagram.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Production Coordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth Editor: Holly Squire



  • Steps forward and back in the battle again HIV

    A new medication offers a potentially revolutionary disruption in HIV transmission – just as a leading global program to fight the disease gets hit with funding cuts.

    Also on the program, what can the recent heat wave in India teach the rest of the world about heat adaptation, and how health care systems can deal with rising temperatures world wide.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Margaret Sessa-Hawkins



  • Can light emitting bandages treat cancer?

    A special episode from this year’s annual Royal Society Summer Exhibition in London, with Claudia Hammond joined by BBC health and science correspondent, James Gallagher, to take a look at a range of new health research.

    The exhibitions include a look at how special forms of UV light might be able to cut away cancerous cells in brain tumours, with the possibility of light emitting bandages also being used to target cancer treatments.

    Claudia and James also look at research from The Francis Crick Institute into whether a simple blood test can help work out how to quickly identify patients who are most likely to deteriorate when they have a virus.

    We also hear how much brain devices we can buy online really tell us about our brain activity, as well as research into how the way babies wriggle may help identify future developmental issues.

    Claudia and James also compete in a number of scientific games to see who is this year’s Summer Exhibition champion.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Dan Welsh



  • New MPox strain in DRC

    This week on Health Check, we get an update on a new and concerning strain of MPox that is spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Also on the program, it has been two years since the United States overturned the constitutional right to an abortion with the Dobbs decision. What effect has this had on the global picture of abortion?

    And could arts-based strategies help doctors to cope with burnout and patient communication. Doctor Graham Easton joins Claudia Hammond to discuss these stories and more.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

    (Photo: Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration. Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)



  • Why is exercise good for your mental health?

    This week, Health Check takes a deep dive into the evidence on the relationship between exercise and mental health. Not just whether getting moving can make a difference, but why.

    Claudia Hammond laces up her running shoes and goes for a jog at the seaside with a group of people who are running for their mental health. Claudia meets the founder of 'Run Talk Run', Jess Robson, and talks to other members of the group about why they find exercise helpful.

    Back in the studio, Claudia speaks to Jonathan Roiser, Professor of Neuroscience and Mental Health at University College London in the UK. He’s about to embark on a major piece of research that should help us understand a lot more about what exercise does for people with depression. As well as explaining what they’re hoping to discover, he tells her about the latest research into exercise and mental health. Why does it work for some people and not others, and what’s the best exercise for your brain?

    Then there’s the commonly held belief that exercise is good for your mood because it ‘gets the endorphins going’, but we know that endorphins are not able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Claudia talks to Dr Hilary Marusak from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit USA about one of the possible alternatives – the endocannabinoid system.

    Throughout the programme Claudia is joined by Dr Peter Olusoga, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. Together they discuss the many barriers people face to improving their physical activity, including the fact that poor mental health itself can stop you wanting to exercise in the first place.

    And if getting more exercise really does sound like the worst idea you can think of, it turns out that watching sport on TV might also be good for you.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Ben Motley Content Editor: Holly Squire