Archive for March, 2011

Peter Wehrwein

Radiation risk in Japan: an update

Several people who read my earlier post about radiation readings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan pointed out that the time period over which the radiation exposure occurs is important. They’re right—the radiation dose and how long you are exposed to it determine how much radiation you are receiving. That is why […]

Peter Wehrwein

Radiation risk in Japan: understanding radiation measurements and putting them in perspective

News from Japan is full of talk about radiation risk and millisieverts. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein explains radiation doses and compares what’s happening in Japan with other exposures, from medical testing to Chernobyl and more.

Ann MacDonald

Why Japan’s crisis causes worry, fear of radiation risk in the U.S.

Your perception of risk depends on many factors, including whether the risk is natural or man-made, imposed or voluntary, and how it affects you and your family. Harvard Health editor Ann MacDonald explains why Japan’s radiation crisis from earthquake-damaged nuclear power plants makes us worry on many levels.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Sudden death in young athletes—can it be prevented?

In a seven-day span, three high-school athletes died while pursuing their sports. An epidemic? No. Approximately 100 youth, high school, and college athletes die each year, many from a cardiovascular problem. The deaths renewed a hot debate among parents, coaches, and physicians: should the pre-sports checkup for competitive athletes include an electrocardiogram (ECG)?

Peter Wehrwein

Potassium iodide pills and prevention of thyroid cancer from Japanese nuclear power plant

Japanese officials are preparing to distribute potassium iodide pills to people living near the nuclear power plants crippled by last week’s earthquake. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein explains what these pills do and who needs them.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Thyroid cancer a hazard from radioactive iodine emitted by Japan’s failing nuclear power plants

The steam emitted by Japan’s failing nuclear reactors contains radioactive iodine-131. People living near the reactors can get substantial doses of iodine-131 by breathing the vapor from the reactors or ingesting iodine-131 from food or water. It accumulates in the thyroid gland, and significantly increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Ann MacDonald

How to do CPR when the heart suddenly stops: Press hard, press fast, don’t stop

When a fellow shopper suddenly collapsed in the grocery store, Harvard Health editor Ann MacDonald couldn’t exactly remember how to do CPR, even though she took a class some years ago. She knows now how to help when someone is having a sudden cardiac arrest. Her post offers basic instruction and resources for getting prepared.

Julie Corliss

Bridge the intention-behavior gap to lose weight and keep it off

The hardest part of trying to lose weight is the “intention-behavior gap.” That’s the disconnect between knowing what you need to do and actually doing it. A behavior chain can help you bridge the gap. This tool can help you recognize how a series of seemingly minor events can lead to an unfavorable outcome, such as overeating, and how to break the links.

Patrick J. Skerrett

Sugary soda and juice can boost blood pressure, weight

A large new study links drinking sugar-sweetened sodas and juices with higher blood pressure and extra pounds. The results are in line with earlier studies, and with some clinical trials, showing that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages isn’t so good for the body.

Ann MacDonald

Teens who smoke pot at risk for later schizophrenia, psychosis

Teenagers and young adults who use marijuana may be messing with their heads in ways they don’t intend. Ongoing research shows a possible link between early use of marijuana and later development of psychosis or schizophrenia.