Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

New cures for hepatitis C — but are they affordable?

Gregory Curfman, MD
Gregory Curfman, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications

Recently, several new drugs have been developed to treat hepatitis C, a serious viral infection that can cause severe liver damage if allowed to run unchecked. But these new drugs are incredibly expensive, and are unaffordable for many people who need them. Until drugs for hepatitis C (and other high-cost drugs) are priced at affordable levels, many people will be left unable to benefit from modern advances in drug therapy.

Can your coffee habit help you live longer?

Mallika Marshall, MD
Mallika Marshall, MD, Contributing Editor

Coffee is nearly a national obsession in the United States. For years, experts have debated whether drinking coffee is good for you. Recently published research suggests that regular, moderate coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of overall mortality, and that heavy consumption of coffee isn’t linked with a greater risk of death.

The truth about altruism

Michael Craig Miller, M.D.
Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Senior Editor, Mental Health Publishing, Harvard Health Publications

Many people believe that the human tendency to want to act for the greater good is rooted in kindness. But research suggests that altruism may have evolved alongside the impulse to condemn and even chasten those put self-interests first.

Four new recommendations for adolescent health

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

Each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics updates it recommendations for well-child visits. The latest version emphasizes screening adolescents for high cholesterol, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and HIV. Many families may feel that their children don’t need these “checks,” but when it comes to the health and well-being of children, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Yoga in pregnancy: Many poses are safer than once thought

Marlynn Wei, MD, JD
Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor

Yoga can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which are common during pregnancy. A new study shows that many yoga poses are safe for mothers-to-be and their babies. However, pregnant women should take certain precautions when doing yoga — for example, avoiding heated yoga classes and being careful not to over-stretch. It’s also important for pregnant women to check with their doctors to be sure there are no underlying health concerns before starting yoga.

Finding omega-3 fats in fish: Farmed versus wild

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Fatty fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But do is farm-raised salmon have a better or worse omega-3 level than wild-caught? While a recent study found that the omega-3 content of farm-raised salmon varies widely, the type of fish you choose probably isn’t as important as following the American Heart Association’s advice to eat two servings of fish a week, letting affordability and availability guide your choices.

Does fewer PSA tests mean less prostate cancer?

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

Fewer men are being given PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer. As screening rates have fallen, so have the number of prostate cancer diagnoses. This probably also means that fewer men are receiving potentially unnecessary treatment, with its attendant negative side effects. At the same time, it isn’t yet clear whether that comes at the cost of more aggressive cancers being caught at an incurable stage. Better screening tests may make the difference in helping strike the right balance between limiting harm and preventing prostate cancer deaths.

Holiday travels: Keeping kids safe and healthy

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

At this time of year, travel brings the opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends or perhaps splurge on a “destination holiday.” If you’re planning to travel with children, a little preparation can go a long way toward making your trip memorable for all the right reasons. We’ve included our favorite tips for planning a trip with your children.

The “right” goal when managing pain

Robert R. Edwards, Ph.D.
Robert R. Edwards, Ph.D., Contributing Editor

When it comes to pain management, focusing only on reducing the intensity of pain may lead to treatments that do as much harm as good. Ideally, pain-management plans should be tailored to each patient and include a range of therapies that not only reduce pain but also help improve pain-related quality-of-life problems.

Can computer-guided cognitive behavioral therapy improve depression treatment?

James Cartreine, PhD
James Cartreine, PhD, Contributing Editor

In a recent study, online cognitive behavioral therapy programs didn’t appear to improve depression any more than standard primary care for depression. But that study was conducted in the United Kingdom, where primary care for depression includes a much wider variety of resources than are typically available in America. Even though these online programs have proven to be helpful, simply making them available isn’t sufficient —they have to be engaging and rewarding enough that people will be motivated to stick with them.