Archive for October, 2011

New prostate cancer screening recommendation generates controversy and confusion

Ann MacDonald

Contributor, Harvard Health

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is expected soon to release an updated statement on PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing for men, recommending for the first time that healthy men avoid getting regular PSA tests. This is big news, as the PSA test is one of the most common prostate cancer screening tests around.

Alzheimer’s disease in its later stages: Some advice for caregivers

Peter Wehrwein

Contributor, Harvard Health

Alzheimer’s disease is a “disease of behaviors” that can wear down family and loved ones. In a talk called “Dementia and Cognitive Decline (Aging Gracefully)” Barbara Moscowitz, coordinator of geriatric social work for the Geriatric Medicine Unit at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, offered helpful insights and tips into caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Moscowitz drew not only her 30 years of professional experience, but also on the personal experience of helping take care of her mother, who suffered from dementia the last several years of her life.

Being mindful can help ease stress

Michael Craig Miller, M.D.

Senior Editor, Mental Health Publishing, Harvard Health Publishing

Many people try to tune out stress. A healthier approach may be to tune in to it. Paying more attention to what is going on around you, not less, is the first step toward cultivating mindfulness, an excellent technique to help you cope with a range of mental and physical problems, including stress. Mindfulness teaches people to be present in each moment. The idea is to focus attention on what is happening now and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness techniques have been shown to ease stress, prevent major depression from reappearing, alleviate anxiety, and even reduce physical symptoms such as pain or hot flashes.

MRIs may be safe for people with pacemakers and ICDs

Peter Wehrwein

Contributor, Harvard Health

People with pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are often told that they can’t get an MRI scan. The worry is that the powerful magnetic fields and radio waves MRI scanners use might “fry” the devices, induce current so hearts would beat wildly or, in the case of ICDs, cause an unnecessary shock. A new study suggests that with the proper monitoring, MRIs can be safe for many people with pacemakers and ICDs. One of the biggest obstacles will be cost, since a specially trained nurse or a doctor would need to be present to reprogram the device and to respond in case of an emergency.

Want to make a healthy change? Start with the right goal


Former Editor, Harvard Health

Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones usually isn’t easy, and many ambitious attempts often fall short. But you’re more likely to succeed if you start by choosing the right goal—the one you are most likely to accomplish—rather than the goal you think you should make. Breaking a goal into bite-sized pieces also helps. So does making your goal a SMART one (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based).

A new view of the teenage brain: adaptation is job 1


Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

A few years back, my colleague Michael Miller wrote an interesting article about the adolescent brain in the Harvard Mental Health Letter. I had only a passing interest in the topic at the time, being far more focused on raising a 9-year old and a pair of 8-year-olds. Fast-forward six years, and I now have […]