This Podcast Will Kill You

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15749 reviews
This podcast has
177 episodes
Date created
Average duration
102 min.
Release period
15 days


This podcast might not actually kill you, but Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke cover so many things that can. In each episode, they tackle a different topic, teaching listeners about the biology, history, and epidemiology of a different disease or medical mystery. They do the scientific research, so you don’t have to.   Since 2017, Erin and Erin have explored chronic and infectious diseases, medications, poisons, viruses, bacteria and scientific discoveries. They’ve researched public health subjects including plague, Zika, COVID-19, lupus, asbestos, endometriosis and more. Each episode is accompanied by a creative quarantini cocktail recipe and a non-alcoholic placeborita. Erin Welsh, Ph.D. is a co-host of the This Podcast Will Kill You. She is a disease ecologist and epidemiologist and works full-time as a science communicator through her work on the podcast. Erin Allmann Updyke, MD, Ph.D. is a co-host of This Podcast Will Kill You. She’s an epidemiologist and disease ecologist currently in the final stretch of her family medicine residency program. This Podcast Will Kill You is part of the Exactly Right podcast network that provides a platform for bold, creative voices to bring to life provocative, entertaining and relatable stories for audiences everywhere. The Exactly Right roster of podcasts covers a variety of topics including science, true crime, comedic interviews, news, pop culture and more. Podcasts on the network include My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, Buried Bones, That's Messed Up: An SVU Podcast and more.

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Podcast episodes

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Ep 135 Menopause is whatever you want it to be
For our season 6 finale, we’re spending some time with menopause. How many nicknames can you think of for menstruation? Quite a few, I’m sure. “That time of the month”, “Aunt Flo”, “the red wave”, “period”, the list goes on. But what about euphemisms for menopause? We’ve got “the change” or “change of life”, “climacteric”, and… that’s it? There may be more out there, but the comparison is revealing. Despite the fact that roughly half of the global population has or will one day experience menopause, the lack of nicknames demonstrates the silence, often tinged with shame, still enveloping it. In this episode, we explore the roots of this silence and the many historical misconceptions about menopause that frame our current perspective. We also examine the effect that this silence has on our understanding of the physiological processes underlying this transition. Why do some people experience symptoms and others do not? Why do humans experience menopause? What is the grandmother effect? What’s the latest on hormone replacement therapy? These are only a sampling of the many questions we delve into in this info-packed, frustration-laden, and eye-opening episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 134 Tonsils: Underestimated and underappreciated
Raise your hand if you or someone you know has had their tonsils removed. If your hand is sky-high, there’s a pretty good chance that you (or that person you know) are from the US and were born before 1980. Of course, maybe that’s not the case, but tonsillectomies certainly fit in the category of 20th-century fads, along with Tamagotchis and the Atkins diet. While the procedure is still widely performed today (and for very good reasons), the frequency of tonsillectomies has dropped drastically from mid-20th century rates. In this episode, we explore why tonsillectomies became so popular, when they fell out of favor, and what about tonsils makes them worthy of removal. Tune in to be horrified by ancient tonsil removal techniques, shocked at how long it takes new knowledge to change policies, and appreciative of just how cool tonsils actually are. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 133 Parvoviruses: Who let the dogs (and their viruses) out?
This one’s not just for the dogs. It’s also for the cats, the raccoons, the wax moths, the birds, the mice, and so many other critters. Oh, and of course the humans. Even though most of us may be familiar with parvovirus through our canine friends, the world of parvoviruses is much larger. In this episode, we explore that world, focusing first on the biology of these tiny DNA viruses and how they make us sick before tracing the history of their discovery and the pandemic spread of canine parvovirus just a few short decades ago. We are joined by the amazing Dr. Steph Horgan Smith who acts as our veterinary tour guide through the animal world of these viruses and why vaccination against them is so incredibly important. Finally, we round out the episode with some of the latest research on these viruses, featuring some very cool, very promising work on using the dependoparvoviruses as a tool for gene therapy. Tune in to learn where Fifth disease got its name, what role raccoons may have played in the emergence of canine parvovirus, and so much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 132 Osteogenesis Imperfecta: All bones about it
Often, the more we learn about a disease, the more we learn about ourselves and the world around us. The story of the genetic disorder osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), colloquially known as brittle bone disease, illustrates this perfectly. As researchers continue to uncover the mechanisms responsible for OI development and progression, the better we understand the varied and crucial roles collagen plays in all parts of our biology. As historians attempt to trace how that knowledge has accumulated over time, the more we can clearly see how science rarely progresses consistently but rather erratically and is prone to interruption. And as we assess where we are with OI treatment and research today, the more apparent the gap is between knowledge and application, and just how critical lived experiences are in understanding a disease. In this episode, we explore these aspects of osteogenesis imperfecta, and we are thrilled to be joined by Natalie Lloyd, who shares her experience with OI as our firsthand account. Natalie is a New York Times bestselling author of novels for young readers, whose recently published award-winning book Hummingbird tells the story of a young girl with OI. Heartwarming, magical, and brilliant, this wonderful book is a must-read. Tune in today! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 131 Parkinson’s Disease: Dopamine & discoveries
Parkinson’s is a disease of many dimensions. On the shelves of any bookstore or library you’ll find at least a handful of titles exploring the topic from a myriad of perspectives, and extending that search to the internet will turn up dozens upon dozens more options: how-to guides for the recently diagnosed, in-depth textbooks exploring the neurophysiology of disease development, memoirs about caregiving for people with Parkinson’s, books offering a tour through the history of research advancements. The choices seem limitless and maybe a tad overwhelming. But that’s where we come in. In this episode, we take you through many of the dimensions of Parkinson’s disease, from its complicated biology, still shrouded in mystery, to its history, peppered with transformative moments like the introduction of dopamine. We round out the episode by exploring the tremendous amount of promising research on the horizon, leaving us feeling like we’re *this* close to yet another revolution in Parkinson’s disease treatment. If you’ve ever wondered what dopamine does, who Parkinson was, and what might be next for this disease, this episode is for you. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 130 Cocoliztli: We do love a salty dish
In the 16th century, a series of deadly epidemics swept through much of the region of Mesoamerica known as the Aztec Empire, killing untold millions. By the start of the first of these epidemics, the area had become woefully accustomed to devasting epidemic disease, as the Spanish conquistadors had introduced smallpox, measles, typhus, and influenza, among other infections. But this disease, with its tendency to induce massive hemorrhage, fever, jaundice, and rapid death, seemed different from those now familiar infections, and so was given a new name: cocoliztli. People watched in horror as cocoliztli overtook town after town, village after village, sometimes killing as much as 80% of the population and leaving nothing but desolation in its wake. Hundreds of years after the epidemics ended, debate about the pathogen responsible for cocoliztli remains. In this episode, we’re going deep down the rabbit hole of this medical mystery, linking the spread and nature of these epidemics with the characteristics of the many pathogens that have been proposed over the years. We draw from contemporary accounts, ecological analyses, and even a recent ancient DNA study to make our evaluations, but do we ever get to the bottom of cocoliztli? Tune in to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 129 Lymphatic Filariasis: Hiding in plain sight
With a history extending back millennia, with a biology that leads to permanent disability for tens of millions of people globally, and with a bacterial endosymbiont that may prove to be its Achilles heel, the filarial parasites that cause lymphatic filariasis are quite the complex creatures. In this episode, we explore the intricacies of this neglected tropical disease - also known as elephantiasis. We start by examining its complicated ecology involving many mosquito and parasite species, before moving on to its tricky biology where we finally answer the age-old question, “What is the lymphatic system anyway?”. Next, we move on to the convoluted history of lymphatic filariasis, where it holds the distinction of being the first disease recognized as mosquito-borne. We wrap up the episode with a look at its present global status, grappling with some current figures on the tremendous global burden of this disease and investigating some exciting treatment developments that will hopefully bring relief to the hundreds of millions of people at risk of developing this debilitating disease. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 128 Skin Cancer: We love and fear the sun
For every article about the risks of sun exposure or a guide to sunscreens, you don’t have to look far to find one about the health benefits of sunshine or a how-to for achieving the best tan. Messaging around sun exposure is mixed, to say the least, and it’s no wonder that despite having more sun protection tools than ever before, rates of skin cancer have never been higher. In this episode, we delve into the relationship between UV radiation and skin cancers, answering your (sun)burning questions about the different types of cancers and how sunscreens actually work. We then explore the history of sun protective methods and how attitudes around tanning have changed dramatically over time. We wrap up the episode with a look at rates of skin cancers around the globe today and exciting research showing the benefits of sunscreens as well as how AI might be used to help diagnose skin cancer. Tune in for an info-packed episode that will have you reaching for that sunscreen bottle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 127 Bhopal: The 1984 Union Carbide Disaster
On the night of December 2, 1984, a deadly gas leak at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India led to what has been described as the world’s worst industrial disaster. In the immediate aftermath of the gas leak, thousands of people died and hundreds of thousands were injured from exposure to the toxic gas methyl isocyanate. But long after the international headlines and news reports dwindled to silence, long after Union Carbide paid a paltry settlement to survivors, long after the disaster faded from much of the world’s memory, the gas leak continues to haunt the residents of Bhopal. In this episode, we trace the path of methyl isocyanate from initial discovery to the night of the disaster and the years that followed. We then explore what about this gas makes it so very deadly before assessing how the contamination still present at the site is causing health problems for residents decades after the gas leak. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 126 Migraine: A Cacophony in Four Movements
“Throbbing, pulsating pain.” “Like a drill boring into your head.” “As though your head is gripped by a vise.” “Stabbing pain hammering through your brain.” There is no shortage of metaphors used to describe the horrific, incapacitating pain of migraines. But try as we might, can any of them truly convey what it feels like to be at the mercy of such pain? In many ways, migraines reveal our shortcomings: with language that fails to accurately describe pain, with empathy when we continue to dismiss migraines as “just really bad headaches”, with medicine as we struggle to find reliable treatments and preventatives, and with biology as we fail to understand the complete pathology of this condition. In this episode, we do our best to explore these shortcomings by deep diving into what we do know about the biology and history of migraines. Why do some people get migraines and others don’t? How do certain medications work? What the heck is going on with aura? Have migraines always been around? How have people dealt with them or perceived them historically? What’s on the horizon for migraines in the future? As always, we’ve got lots of questions and lots of answers for you, so tune in today! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 125 Blastomycosis: How fungus became amongus
Fungal infections don’t often make an appearance on this podcast, but when they do, you know you’re in for a wild ride. In this episode, we explore the rare but potentially deadly fungal infection blastomycosis. We trace the journey of Blastomyces spores as they depart from their cozy homes of decomposing wood and make their way first into mammalian lungs before possibly moving into the skin, intestines, and brain. How and why these fungi can be so deadly is our next stop, one that takes us into an unexpected direction: the fall of dinosaurs, the rise of mammals and the role that pathogenic fungi played in this transition. We delve into why comparatively few fungi are pathogenic to humans and how our warm-bloodedness may protect us. But, as we discuss in the episode’s conclusion, that protection may be weakened as our warming planet selects for fungi that can tolerate increasing temperatures. Dinos, dogs, deep time, and deadly outbreaks - this episode has it all. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ep 124 The full spectrum of color vision deficiency
There’s no denying that human imagination is a powerful thing. It has led us to create incredible works of art, literature that transports its readers to other realms, technology that revolutionizes the way we communicate and travel, music and film that makes us laugh, cry, and hit repeat. But our imagination often falls short when trying to conceive of the world from another person’s perspective, especially when it comes to senses. In this episode, we delve into one of the most prominent examples of this: color vision and color vision deficiencies. First, we take you through how color vision works and just how non-universal this experience is. We then explore the origins of color vision and what evolutionary significance it may have held before getting into the discovery of color vision deficiency and its impact on industry. We close out this colorful episode by chatting about some of the latest developments and products geared towards those with color vision deficiency. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Podcast reviews

Read This Podcast Will Kill You podcast reviews

4.8 out of 5
15749 reviews
Kaflaful 2024/01/31
IgA nephropathy
During the Tonsil episode you guys mentioned IgA. I would love to learn more about it. My brother at 42 just had a kidney transplant due to his autoi...
BUBBY444 bob dude 2024/01/07
Educational, with a touch of humor.
I love how these two are able to not only be incredibly informative, but also able to deliver this info with humor. Which is sometimes necessary after...
jhkiiuiiu 2024/01/02
Great podcast
Very informative and interesting! Highly recommend this podcast. It is highly informative and entertaining. Love it.
JKones11 2024/01/01
Great Show!
I like the disease facts but love the histories more! I also love the banter and the nerdy humor so much! The altitude sickness episode was my favorit...
MashaYaww 2023/12/19
Love your show
Very informative for me as a healthcare provider and entertaining! Thank you ladies!
CactusChick99 2023/12/31
Good Story, Bad Story Telling
Gave this podcast a try because I love MFM, but turned the episode off halfway through because the pace was slow, there were so many unnecessary inter...
seesaw70 2023/12/20
Of some interesting
These two can have some interesting information and they can also be really annoying.
‘Ohia Love 2023/12/19
Deep dive with a healthy dose of compassion
Thank you for covering Parkinson’s disease. I always love your deep dives, and this episode is especially helpful in my care for my father, who suffer...
Cmancroni 2023/12/04
Absolutely Love
Erin and Erin, without you and your podcast I would have never known that I am an interior designer who secretly dreams of becoming a microbiologist. ...
KSPNYC 2023/11/25
This Podcast Will Make You Smarter!
For anyone who is fascinated by science but who got scared off in school. This podcast is fascinating, entertaining and important. Love you two so muc...
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