A&E doctor Javid Abdelmoneim is on a mission to find out the truth about alcohol. In January, the government released its new alcohol guidelines. For men, the recommended weekly limit was cut by a third to 14 units per week, equivalent to about seven pints of beer, bringing it in line with the amount recommended for women. So what is behind the change? This is just one question of many that Javid aims to answer as he explores the science of drinking and the new evidence for the health risks of alcohol. Why do some people get drunk quicker than others? What is behind red wine's healthy reputation? Is a nightcap actually good for your sleep? Does lining your stomach work? And can alcohol actually make you eat more?
The possibility of medicine to replace damaged organs in the body is making important headway. This programme reports on efforts to replace the most inaccessible organs with spare parts - the cochlea of a profoundly deaf two year-old and damaged retinal cells with light sensitive electronic chips are two case studies featured in the programme.
As a woman in New York City leans over a table, about to inhale a line of cocaine, she is unknowingly part of a $30 billion a year industry — an illegal empire governed by fear and violence, bribery and corruption, all spiraling out of control and turning Mexico and the southern border of the United States into one of the deadliest places on earth. In this probing, incisive investigation into the bloodstained path taken by cocaine we travel backwards from the end user in the U.S. all the way to the drug's source high in the South American mountains. We meet the dealers, traffickers, smugglers and farmers who together form its production and distribution chain, as well as the law enforcement agencies and individuals whose mission is to shut the deadly trade down. The cocaine industry is littered with unimaginable sums of cash and more than 35,000 murders in the past five years. Much of this violence occurs on the border between the United States and Mexico. This is just one aspect of the cocaine epidemic which is explored in the feature-length documentary Cocaine: History Between the Lines. This two-hour special goes inside the history of the second most used illicit drug in America. The human appetite for this narcotic goes all the way back to 3000 B.C., when South Americans chewed coca leaves thinking they were a gift from God. But it wasn't until 1855, when cocaine was first extracted from the coca leaf and used in powder form that its use spiked. Initially it was utilized as an anesthesia. Soon, famed psychologist Sigmund Freud touted it as an effective cure for depression and impotence. In 1886, John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, added it to his new soft drink: Coca Cola or Coke for short. In 1914, the drug was outlawed, but the damage had been done. The 70's ushered in another boost in the drug's use fueled in part by new drug cartels in South America. To combat cocaine's rise, the Reagan administration started the War on Drugs in the 80's. That hasn't stopped the proliferation of the drug in cities across America or with the cartels that continue to feed at the trough of this $30 billion dollar a year business. Cocaine use may have peaked decades ago, but it's never gone away. With the advent of crack cocaine in the 1980s, the trade became deadlier and more toxic than ever before. The high demand for the product has rendered more than 70% of Mexico under the control of the smuggling trade. American law enforcement agencies from Texas to California are fearful that this nefarious element will soon enter their country unchallenged. According to the officers interviewed in the film, border security is lax, and bureaucrats in Washington are doing little to remedy the crisis. For them, the discovery of a dismembered body – whether it be a trafficker, illegal immigrant or innocent bystander - has become a daily occurrence. This harsh reality is lost on most of the users themselves, who run the gamut from the hippest clubbers to the homeless population across America. Each user profiled in the film shares their experiences with the alluring white powder. Whether they use the drug recreationally or habitually, they have all witnessed the hold it can have on a life. From the personal to the political, Cocaine: History Between the Lines is a comprehensive account of a drug that has left much devastation in its wake.
2011 • Health
Lyme disease, a mysterious tick-borne illness, is the fastest spreading vector-borne disease in the United States, and over the past decade, the tick that carries Lyme has been spreading across Canada with alarming speed. Ticked Off: The Mystery of Lyme Disease, is a fascinating and eye-opening documentary that explores a disease that has devastating effects, is often misdiagnosed and mistreated, and continues to be mired in a medical controversy. More than 30,000 cases are reported in the USA every year, but the real number could be as high as 300,000. And despite hard evidence that the Lyme-carrying, deer tick has already established populations across Canada, some people claim that patients here are still being told that they cannot contract Lyme in this country. Doctors agree that if it’s caught early Lyme disease can usually be cured with two to four weeks of antibiotics. There are others who believe that if it’s not caught early, the infection can develop into a debilitating condition they call Chronic Lyme. Yet unlike West Nile, Encephalitis or SARS, where the medical profession and scientists joined forces to find better treatments or a cure, many patients, who claim to have chronic Lyme, say that they are being denied treatment and left to suffer. So why is this happening?
Since 2003, human DNA has been completely decoded. Scientists are currently working on decoding all of the body's own proteins, the so-called Proteom code - this process is almost complete. From the results, medicine hopes new findings in the search for drugs against cancer, infections, and disease.
2016 • Health
More than 150 years ago, Edo, the forerunner of Tokyo, had the highest population of any city in the world. But it was ravaged by large-scale fires more frequently than any other major urban center. Yet after each conflagration, Edo rose from the ashes like a phoenix. We'll take a look at how the city managed to overcome such huge disasters and continue to grow.
Presenter Michael Mosley finds out how the early days of surgery were dark and barbaric, when the surgeon’s knife was more likely to kill you than save you, and invasive medicine generally meant being bloodlet by leeches to within an inch of your life.