Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 25 years.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

3 reasons to leave earwax alone

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Many people don’t realize that cleaning their ears with a cotton swab is not a good idea. Doing so can be harmful, and the ears are self-cleaning anyway.

Diet not working? Maybe it’s not your type

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Blood type diets, which maintain that food choices and fitness routines should be based on a person’s blood type, were first popularized over two decades ago, but in that time no firm scientific evidence to support the claims has emerged.

Have kids, live longer?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A study of Swedish people found an association between having children and living longer. That does not mean there is a direct, causal connection, but it’s still worth considering how these circumstances may in fact be related.

The problem with tanning (and the myth of the base tan)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The earlier one starts tanning, the longer the lifetime skin damage and the higher the skin cancer risk. As the number of people with skin cancer increases, it has become especially important to convey to teenagers the message that tanning is an unhealthy choice, whether it’s outdoors or in a tanning bed.

Eat better, live longer

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With a study showing that 400,000 cardiovascular-disease deaths could be prevented each year with dietary changes, it’s time to consider adopting a healthier eating approach. Limiting unhealthy foods is a good start, but it’s also important to eat more healthful foods.

Can you virtually improve your knee pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A study of people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that at the end of the study period, those participants who received more personalized attention via the web (including physical therapy sessions and information about pain management) had less pain and better movement function.

Some medications don’t help back pain as much as we thought

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With back pain affecting so many of us, it’s eye-opening that a new review of dozens of studies is reporting that many people who took NSAID medications did not feel any better, or felt only slightly better, after treatment.

The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While it’s been believed that intense exercise only on weekends is not an advisable or effective fitness routine, a new study suggests that, if done safely and for enough time to meet the recommended guidelines, weekend-only exercise can be beneficial.

Confessions of a breakfast skipper

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While most of us have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there is debate about the importance of breakfast continues. Research findings on breakfast and weight loss are inconsistent and inconclusive. And a recent study suggests that eating breakfast may not matter as much as has been previously believed, and skipping breakfast is fine for some people. But we probably haven’t heard the final word on this topic.

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A recent study involving over one million Medicare enrollees found that these older patients had more successful outcomes when under the care of a female physician verses a male physician. A thorough reading of the study seems to support that gender made the difference, but the takeaway is that it’s important to understand the differences between how women and men practice medicine and why these might be important. Most likely each gender has something to learn from the other.