Audio slideshow: Up to the hilt

Sword swallowers push a blade up to 75cm long down their throats to astonish and entertain an audience. The practice began in India some 4,000 years ago - but why do people decide to take such risks?

Here, sword swallower Dan Meyer, a former missionary, explains what motivated him, how he mastered the technique, and how he once injured himself after swallowing five swords at once. He was speaking at the Wellcome Collection, run by Britain's medical charity the Wellcome Trust - which has been exploring the science behind this and similar feats in a series of public events.

Warning: Some viewers may find the images upsetting

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Slideshow audio by Vanessa Buschschluter, production and photography by Phil Coomes. Publication date 4 March 2009.

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