Health

New urine test predicts high-grade prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt
Charlie Schmidt, Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Disease

Researchers believe that a non-invasive screening test that can identify genetic markers for high-grade prostate cancer in urine may eventually reduce the number of prostate biopsies needed. However, experts also caution that while the number of non-invasive tests for prostate cancer diagnosis is growing, these are still early days in their development.

Can exercise help relieve teen depression?

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

Depression isn’t confined to adulthood. One recent survey showed that nearly 11% of adolescents ages 12-17 were depressed. But one treatment commonly used to combat depression in adults may also be beneficial for adolescents who suffer from depression. According to a recent meta-analysis collected from rigorously evaluated studies, adolescents may experience improvement in their depression symptoms if they incorporate exercise into their treatment.

The 5 things parents need to know about drowning

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

About 10 people die from drowning every day. Of these 10 people, two are children. For every child that dies from drowning, five other children are treated in hospitals for injuries sustained from drowning. Although swimming can be a dangerous activity for even the most experienced swimmer, there are ways that parents can help protect their children from the dangers of drowning. Fencing off your pool, teaching your child how to swim and simply being observant of your child in any sort of water are all easy steps to help keep your child safe.

What “native” Zika infections mean for the United States

Michaela Kane
Michaela Kane, Contributor

News that mosquitoes in the U.S. carry Zika is concerning, but experts say that Zika likely won’t spread here as it has in Central and South America. The virus poses a danger to pregnant women and their unborn children because Zika may cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s head is unusually small and the brain does not develop properly. The CDC warns pregnant women, or those trying to become pregnant, to avoid areas with high rates of Zika infection, and warns all travelers to such areas to take certain precautions.

Fentanyl: The dangers of this potent “man-made” opioid

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. It is far more potent — and potentially more dangerous — than heroin and morphine. Overdose deaths related to fentanyl are on the rise. The drug is cheaper than heroin and recently is being used to dilute heroin or substitute for it. Users may be unaware that they are taking this potent drug, or may even seek its intense high. People at risk from using fentanyl can be treated successfully with therapies used for other opioid use disorders, but taking steps to prevent overdose are critical until a person is ready to seek care.

“Double dipping” your chip: Dangerous or just…icky?

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

The idea of double dipping became a mainstream public worry because of an episode of Seinfeld, bringing up the idea that double dipping might be grosser than we originally thought it was. Although it originally started as a playful debate, double dipping does raise questions about the spread of bacteria, and believe it or not, research has tried to address these questions.

Female athlete triad: Protecting the health and bones of active young women

Elizabeth Matzkin, MD
Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, Contributor

Women who are especially active may be susceptible to a spectrum disorder known as the female athlete triad, a combination of symptoms rooted in inadequate nutrition that can ultimately lead to a greater risk of osteoporosis.

Protecting children from the dangers of “virtual violence”

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

After recent mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and other reports of danger, it is almost impossible to avoid depictions of violence on our nightly news screens. Between the use of mainstream media and social media, violence is reaching far past the places and people it directly affects. Unfortunately, this means that the violence of the world is also affecting our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics wants people to understand exactly how exposure to violence can affect children, and how we can work to decrease the impact it has on today’s youths.

Beating osteoarthritis knee pain: Beyond special shoes

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

For people suffering from knee osteoarthritis, one long-standing solution to knee pain was the use of “unloading” shoes. These shoes use stiffer soles and slightly tilted insoles that help to reposition the foot and ‘unload,’ or decrease, the pain on the knee. But a new study revealed that these shoes might not be any better than good walking shoes at relieving pain from knee osteoarthritis.

Are fresh juice drinks as healthy as they seem?

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

For people on the go, it’s easy to turn to a fruit juice or a smoothie when you don’t have time to sit and eat a full meal, especially when this seems like a healthy option. There are definite benefits to this decision. After all, cold pressed juices and smoothies are often served fresh, and they contain most of the vitamins and minerals from the pressed fruit. However these fruity drinks can also raise blood sugar levels and pack on the calories, even if they are made with healthy ingredients.