Archive for February, 2011

Peter Wehrwein

Oscar or not, The King’s Speech teaches about stuttering

The King’s Speech has won almost universal praise for its portrayal of reluctant monarch George VI’s stuttering. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein takes you behind the scenes with Alex Johnson, an expert in speech and stuttering at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston; Caroline Bowen, an Australian speech-language therapist; and a few other scattered sources.

Kay Cahill Allison

When it comes to fiber, cereal fiber may be your best choice

Cereal fiber–from whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley and other whole grains–seems to offer more protection against heart disease and other chronic conditions than fiber from fruits and vegetables. The benefit isn’t necessarily from the fiber alone, but the natural package of nutrients that comes with the fiber. Processed foods, which are often stripped of their fiber and nutrients and then “fortified” in the manufacturing process, don’t measure up.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Cell phone use stimulates brain activity

An elegant new study showing that a cell phone can stimulate brain activity is certain to heat up the debate about whether or not cell phone use is linked to cancer. It’s an important signal that it’s high time scientists take a harder look at how the energy radiated by a cell phone, a mobile phone, or any other energy-emitting device we hold next to our heads affects the brain.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Zinc for the common cold? Not for me

The latest hubbub about taking zinc to shorten a cold is media hype at its finest. The review that sparked the media storm on zinc and colds says there’s a lot more to be done before recommending taking zinc for the common cold. The negative side effects of zinc are also worth considering.

Ann MacDonald

Deep brain stimulation: Experts raise alarms about aggressive marketing

Deep brain stimulation, an experimental treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is being misused, say prominent neuroscientists and ethicists in a hard-hitting paper in the journal Health Affairs. Their concerns echo cautions reported last year in the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

Ann MacDonald

What to do when health problems or medical treatments thwart your love life

Health problems, or treatments for them, sometimes thwart sexual desire and sexual function. There may not be a quick fix for health-related sexual problems, but there are things you can do to enjoy your love life while taking care of the rest of your health.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Heart disease forecast: Gloomy, with boom time ahead

The American Heart Association is predicting a big increase in cardiovascular disease over the next 20 years, fueled largely by the aging of baby boomers. Greater attention to heart-healthy living among boomers, their children, and grandchildren, could prove the AHA wrong.

Peter Wehrwein

Football and concussions: Old school, new school, and a conversation with Jerry Kramer

Tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m., tens of millions of television sets will be turned on as Americans sit down and participate in that unofficial national holiday called “watching the Super Bowl.” For many, it’s an excuse to see funny ads and the half-time show and to eat (how many of those spanking new Dietary Guidelines will be broken?), drink, and socialize. But […]

Ann MacDonald

Use your brain to avoid weight gain—by fighting portion inflation

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend portion control as a way to maintain or lose weight. The inflation of portion sizes makes that difficult. But you can use your brain to help you control portions and eat less.

Patrick J. Skerrett

New dietary guidelines offer little new guidance

The latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans focuses on weight and lowers the recommended salt intake for African Americans, people with diabetes, and others. Beyond that, the guidelines don’t offer much that is new. And what’s in there is often spoiled by vague language.