Harvard Health Blog

Read posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Orienteering: Great exercise and better thinking skills?

The navigation sport orienteering combines map and compass reading with exercise. It's a fun way to get outside and get some exercise — and it may even help fight cognitive decline.

Health care should improve your health, right?

Modern medicine offers ever-expanding ways to heal and prevent disease, but it's also true that health care can cause harm. Some harms are preventable while others are much harder to control. So how can you reduce your chances of being harmed?

Ultra-processed foods? Just say no

It's well known that ultra-processed foods are unhealthy, and a sensible eating plan avoids them as much as possible. But what if someone follows a healthy diet and still eats some ultra-processed foods? A study found that this still poses a risk for brain health.

The cicadas are here: How's your appetite?

Trillions of cicadas are expected to emerge in the US by the end of June, especially in the Midwest. In many parts of the world insects are considered a low-cost source of calories and protein, but some people still won't want to eat them — and some people shouldn't.

Life can be challenging: Build your own resilience plan

Resilience is a psychological response that helps you adapt to life's difficulties and seek a path forward through challenges. While everyone has the ability to be resilient, life stresses can take a toll on you. It's possible to cultivate resilience — but how?

Bugs are biting: Safety precautions for children

Biting bugs are a nuisance and sometimes can spread  illnesses like Lyme disease, Zika, or West Nile virus. To prevent bug bites, take simple precautions and learn how to choose and safely use insect repellents.

Power your paddle sports with three great exercises

Like kayaking or canoeing, paddleboarding provides a serious workout. But before you head out on the water, you'll want to get some key muscle groups in shape, especially ones that probably have not been used much during winter.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, teaches people to challenge negative thought patterns and change their responses to unsettling situations. It is an effective therapy for many mental health conditions as well as issues like pain or insomnia, and for managing difficult life experiences.

Prostate cancer: Brachytherapy linked to long-term risk of secondary malignancies

When cancer patients are treated with radiation, it's possible that the therapy itself may cause new tumors to form in the body later. Canadian researchers published findings in 2014 finding no difference between groups of men treated with cancer or with surgery — but following up another decade later, there was a clear increase in risk.

Is there a good side to drug side effects?

Not all drug side effects are created equal: some are tolerable, some are dangerous –– and some may turn out to be surprisingly beneficial with weight loss and hair growth as superstar examples. Silver linings like these can lead to a new purpose for some medications.

Salmonella is sneaky: Watch out

If you've ever had food poisoning caused by Salmonella bacteria, you know it's unpleasant but typically goes away within two to three days. You may not know that these bacteria sicken more than a million people in the US each year — and can be deadly for some. You can take steps to avoid getting sick.

A hot weather plan is essential to staying healthy

Summer has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, along with higher temperatures that put a stress on the body. Here's why it's more important than ever to have a personal heat plan.


Strong legs help power summer activities: Hiking, biking, swimming, and more

Legs are the foundation for many enjoyable activities—running, bicycling, swimming, and more. Building strong leg muscles can improve your performance, build endurance, and reduce your risk of injury. These exercises will work all of the major muscle groups in your legs.

Sexually transmitted infections: What parents need to be sure their teens know

It's never easy for parents to talk to their teens about sex, so many are understandably hesitant to do so. But even if teens are not yet sexually active, it's important for them to have accurate information about sexually transmitted infections to keep themselves safe and healthy.

Have you exfoliated lately?

Exfoliation — the process of removing dead cells from the skin's outer layer — can make skin glow, help even out coloring, and offer other benefits, but it can also irritate or inflame. Which products should you choose and how often can you exfoliate?

Wildfires: How to cope when smoke affects air quality and health

Wildfire smoke contributes greatly to poor air quality, and as wildfires become more frequent due to climate change and drier conditions, more of us and more of our communities are at risk for health harms.

PTSD: How is treatment changing?

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a potentially debilitating mental health condition marked by recurrent, frightening episodes during which a person relives a traumatic event. Newly released guidelines can help guide treatment; they recommend which therapies are most effective, and which are not recommended.

Virtual mental health care visits: Making them work for you

Virtual mental health care visits have become more popular in recent years. Here's what to know about finding and scheduling care, tech requirements, and making these visits work well for you.

How healthy is sugar alcohol?

Food products advertised as being lower in sugar or sugar-free contain sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohol is another ingredient used as a sweetener in food products. But is sugar alcohol a better choice nutritionally than other sweeteners or natural sugar?

A bird flu primer: What to know and do

A bird flu strain that began circulating in 2020 continues to evolve globally and locally within the United States. If you're wondering what this means, understanding the basics — what bird flu is, how it spreads, whether foods are safe, and prevention tips — can help.

New urine test may help some men with elevated PSA avoid biopsy

When a PSA test produces an abnormal result, the next step is usually a prostate biopsy, but these have drawbacks. Researchers are exploring strategies to avoid unnecessary biopsies, and a test that screens for prostate cancer in urine samples has shown promising results in testing.

Dupuytren's contracture of the hand

One condition affecting the hands and fingers is Dupuytren's contracture, where one or more fingers become curled, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Dupuytren's affects one in 20 Americans, so what do people need to know about it?

Why play? Early games build bonds and brain

More than a million nerve connections are made in the brain in the first few years of life. Babies and young children thrive with responsive caregiving, such as engaging a child in playful games that change as they grow.

Moving from couch to 5K

Want to boost your activity level and your motivation? Consider a couch-to-5K program, which provides coaching to encourage walkers to transition to running.

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