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BBC Radio 4 - Medical Matters

Inside Health

Dr Mark Porter demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice, with the help of regular contributor GP Margaret McCartney

Inside Health

  • Online GP consultations, Pre-eclampsia and could aspirin treat cancer?
    Dr Mark Porter investigates the digitisation of the NHS: are online, asynchronous GP consultations the future? He visits a GP surgery in Tower Hamlets to find out how patients are getting in touch online, in their own time. Does it help improve access for patients and manage workload for busy GPs? Manu Vatish, an obstetrician from the University of Oxford, explains that currently every pregnant woman will be tested for pre eclampsia and how a new test could help accurately identify the 4% of women who actually get the condition. And could aspirin help in the treatment of cancer? Mark talks to Professor Peter Elwood from Cardiff University about his recent study into the evidence and to Professor Janusz Jankowski, a gastroenterologist at Morecambe Bay hospital to talk about the implications and risk and benefits.

  • Migraine, Iron overload, Redefining low-risk cancers
    A new handheld device for migraine is being pioneered at Guys and St Thomas's Hospital in London. Using single pulses of transcranial magnetic stimulation the device is helping prevent and treat migraines in people who haven't responded well to other treatments. Dr Anna Andreou, director of headache research, and nurse specialist, Bethany Hill talk Mark through how it works. Some people, particular of North European and Irish ancestry have the faulty genes that mean they are unable to get rid of excess iron in the body. This can lead to symptoms ranging from tiredness, joint pain, and diabetes to skin discolouring and liver disease. New research has shown the condition is far more common than has been previously thought and is often missed as a diagnosis. Haematologist at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, Ted Fitzsimons and epidemiologist, David Melzer of the University of Exeter, talk testing and treatment for iron overload, or haemochromatosis. Cancer is an umbrella term which covers a spectrum of disease. Some cancers, like lung cancer grow and spread rapidly. But others like some forms of breast, thyroid and prostate cancer have a less than 5% chance of progressing over twenty years. So should we redefine low risk cancers? GP Margaret McCartney and consultant histopathologist, Murali Varma of University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff discuss this question.

  • Genes and confidentiality; sore throats and cancer; diet for epilepsy; shaving for hospital drips
    Genetics and confidentiality; a fascinating legal case where a woman is suing the hospital trust that looked after her father with Huntington's disease for not warning that she too could be affected. And a well established use of very low carb diets that isn't so well known - to treat complex childhood epilepsy. Plus cancer of the voice box and persistent sore throat. And should hairy arms be shaved for a hospital drip? This question has prompted a transatlantic spat when Sir Andy Murray posted a photograph after his recent hip operation.

  • Unproven IVF add-ons; Running injuries; DNA analysis on the NHS
    Warnings that expensive, unproven 'add-ons' are being offered by IVF clinics ; Keen jogger Margaret McCartney asks whether rest helps running problems such as stitch, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Plus DNA testing on the NHS to anyone prepared to pay for it with the results contributing to research. But what exactly is the aim of such testing and are there hidden implications?

  • Conflict of interest, Living with a stoma, Diet books
    Concerns about conflict of Interest and reputational damage. Should policy making organisations in the public health arena form partnerships with charities funded by industry? And living with a Stoma. Mark goes to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge to meet Michael, who explains what life is like after having his large colon removed. 1 in 500 people in the UK - children and adults - live with some form of bowel stoma, where part of their gut has been brought out through their abdominal wall to empty into a bag. But how does it all work, and what it’s like living with one? Plus Margaret McCartney on diet books and why they are rarely discussed on Inside Health.