Prevention

Asking saves lives: A simple question can keep children safe from gun injury

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

Although talking about guns is difficult and can be awkward, putting children’s safety first means asking if there are loaded guns in any place your child plays.

Sticking to a low-salt diet when eating out

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People concerned about sodium intake should be careful when dining out, as many restaurant meals are loaded with salt, and it’s not just the fast-food places that are guilty of this.

Biking to work linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death

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

A five-year study of more than a quarter of a million commuters in the United Kingdom found that those who commute to work by bicycle had lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, or of dying from any cause.

Room sharing with your baby may help prevent SIDS—but it means everyone gets less sleep

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

Having a baby sleep in the same room as its parents can help with feeding and safety, but will probably result in less sleep for everyone. Parents have to decide when it makes sense to move a baby to its own room.

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Because measles is so highly contagious, and because there is a significant delay before symptoms manifest, a person can carry the virus and infect others without knowing it, and many adults may not have received an effective dose of the vaccine. Many outbreaks of measles could probably be prevented if more travelers received MMR vaccine prior to foreign travel.

Run for your (long) life

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A large, long-term study confirms that running decreases a person’s overall risk of death, and while the benefits from other forms of physical activity are not as significant, any activity is still better than none.

Why vaccines are important for our country’s financial health, too

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

Vaccinating babies and toddlers prevents many illnesses, but it also helps the avoid high costs associated with treating those illnesses, helps reduce sick time taken by parents, and contributes to greater immunity in a population.

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.

The flu shot saves children’s lives

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

Even though this year’s flu season is just about over, parents should be thinking about protecting their children next winter. Despite short-term reactions in some people, the flu shot is safe for nearly everyone.

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.