Healthcheck [world Service]



Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Could Donald Trump's plan to ban US funding for global organisations that offer abortion advice stop women from accessing contraception? President of Women Deliver, Katja Iversen, talks to Claudia about the likely consequences of the ban, often known as the ‘Global Gag Rule’. She says this controversial policy will actually increase numbers of abortions and maternal deaths, and impact other services like immunisations offered at integrated clinics.

Research in the gastronomic capital of France hopes to reveal how the foods we eat influence our risk of getting cancer. Scientists at a biobank in Lyon are analysing blood samples from more than half a million people to see if certain foods increase the risk of bowel cancer. Thousands of compounds produced by different foods have been identified – to see if they can be linked to cancers. The role of microbes living in the gut will also be examined.

E-books score better than paper books in helping to improve language development in very young children according to a new American study. Reading on a tablet computer with a parent increased levels of interaction with very young children – but educational psychologist Gabrielle Strouse says toddlers still love the tactile nature of paper books.

(Photo: A woman sits during a consultation at a health clinic. Credit: Getty Images)


Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

The rise in life expectancy in the UK has stalled for the first time in a hundred years – despite improvements in other parts of the world. The increase was around one year every three and a half years for men, and a year for every five years for women. Sir Michael Marmot who's the Director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London was surprised to find that this rate of change has halved since 2010. He believes that as well as dementia, socio-economic inequalities are to blame.

For life expectancy to rise, good health in childhood is crucial. In Ghana the government is tackling childhood malnutrition by giving pupils free meals at school – with the help of some new technology.

If you choose a piece of cake over an apple is it because you have poor
self-control? A new study in the journal Psychological Science which tracked the movement of a computer mouse suggests that those with better self-control were drawn quickly to the healthy choice – rather than having to resist temptation, like their weaker-willed peers.

(Photo credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Scientists have been meeting at London’s Royal Society since 1660 – and some of the latest research behind medical advances are on show there this summer.

When water lands on lotus leaves it bounces off in droplets, taking any dirt along with it. Scientists at University College London are incorporating similar hydrophobic properties into surfaces and devices used in hospitals to try and reduce the spread of infections - alongside other surfaces which actively kill bacteria.

You can tell a lot from a voice. Researchers from London have been putting rappers and impressionists in an MRI scanner to capture their vocal acrobatics. It’s hoped that this will shed light on how speech therapists can best help those with speech problems caused by a cleft palate or a stroke.

Researchers from Kings College London are testing a new phone app which helps people with paranoid thoughts to slow down their thinking. Interactive thought bubbles – created during therapy sessions – can help to identify what helps during times of stress.

A soft robotic heart – which beats in time to your own pulse – is another the exhibit, designed to show how different diseases affect the shape, size and blood flow of the heart.