Archive for October, 2010

Explosion in diabetes isn’t inevitable

Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health

You can fight diabetes, one step at a time. An alarming new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three Americans could have diabetes by the year 2050. The number is “just” one in ten now, and its price tag of nearly $200 billion per year is already straining […]

Halloween candy

Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Trick or treat? It’s really a rhetorical question. They just want the Halloween candy. Millions of American children will get billions of sugar- and fat-laden treats on Sunday night in a tradition that has its roots in pagan and Christian rituals. It’s fun. The kids are outside, walking. And, gosh, they’re cute in their princess and pirate costumes. But nutritionally and dentally speaking, the […]

Anthony Komaroff, M.D.

This week from HHP: The science of fright

Anthony Komaroff, M.D., Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Crisp autumn weather, flickering jack-o-lanterns, costumed children trick-or-treating—and a good fright or two—make for a great Halloween. What is it about getting scared by a haunted house, a roller coaster, or a bungee jump that some people find exhilarating and others find downright frightening? It could be how you are wired, writes Dr. Robert Shmerling […]

Painkillers and drug addiction: An ongoing dilemma

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

On October 16, 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren, a renowned surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, removed a tumor from a printer named Gilbert Abbott. The operation was noteworthy for one reason: Abbott did not scream out in pain, as virtually every surgical patient did in those days. The age of anesthesia was born. A Boston […]

Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

Many diet books advise people to chew slowly so they will feel full after eating less food than if they ate quickly. As we explain in the current issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, eating slowly doesn’t always work, but when it does, the reason has as much to do with the brain as […]

Medical journals: Stop being so passive

Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Reading medical journals is the main occupational hazard I face as editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. This task is like parachuting into a desert at high noon—I drop into a barren, colorless landscape and then struggle across dry, soporific terrain. The content isn’t to blame; it is usually interesting, and is sometimes even compelling. […]

Stem cell progress: Turning skin cells into heart cells

Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Embryonic stem cell research continues to be a political and legal hot potato that stirs up a lot of emotion and argument. In the meantime, researchers are making some remarkable progress using an alternative stem cell approach called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs (sometimes that gets  shortened to iPS). An induced pluripotent stem cell is an adult cell, often a skin cell, […]

Americans lag on exercise

Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Only one in six Americans meet recommended targets for physical activity. If you aren’t one of them, identifying your barriers to exercise can help.

Kiss-kiss CPR: The mouth-to-mouth part may not be needed

Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

The advice to “keep it simple, stupid”—kiss, kiss—seems to apply to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But with CPR, kiss-kiss means no mouth-to-mouth contact. A study published in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) adds to the evidence that the old way of doing CPR—alternating chest compressions with blows into the mouth—is needlessly complicated in most cases (there are exceptions, which we will get into below). Instead, this study and others (The New England […]

Are drugs lurking in your dietary supplements?

Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Another day, another safety alert from the FDA that a so-called dietary supplement or natural herbal remedy actually contains a drug. That’s the eighth such warning in the last three months (see FDA warnings). The latest one warns that products marketed as “natural testosterone boosters” or sex enhancers, including Arom-X, 4-AD, Decavol, and Reversitol, contain […]