Archive for August, 2019

Do employee wellness programs actually work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Do employee health programs lead to healthier, more productive employees? A large study shows little or no impact, although results might vary based on workplace, offerings, and other factors.

Popular drugs used for treating enlarged prostates associated with high-grade prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

If a man has an enlarged prostate, there’s a good chance he’ll be treated with a type of drug called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5-ARI). These drugs shrink the gland to improve urinary flow, and the approved forms used for treating enlarged prostates come in two varieties: Proscar (finasteride) and Avodart (dutasteride). However, a side […]

Is there a role for surgery in treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

A small European study compared standard treatment for the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (thyroid medication) with surgery to remove the thyroid. Those who had surgery saw significant improvement.

Keeping children safe around cosmetics

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Between 2002 and 2016, over 4,000 children under 5 were treated each year in US emergency departments for cosmetics-related injuries. Take precautions with your cosmetic products to keep children safe.

Want a sharp mind, strong memory? Ramp up activities

Research shows that older people who are socially engaged and keep their minds active are more likely to remain mentally sharp. But what specific activities should people do? And does it matter if they start late in life or sooner?

Kratom: Fear-worthy foliage or beneficial botanical?

Kratom has been used for hundreds of years for various conditions, and today many people are using it to treat chronic pain and mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms. But there is no control or regulation of the product, and it can have serious side effects.

Are antibacterial products with triclosan fueling bacterial resistance?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The FDA has banned the antibacterial agent triclosan from soaps starting in 2020. It’s still used in mouthwash, cosmetics, toothpaste and other household products and there are still concerns that striving to rid our environment of bacteria and germs helps fuel bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

What should you do if your blood pressure medication has been recalled?

The FDA has recalled certain kinds of blood pressure medications due to the presence of impurities that occur during the manufacturing process. The added risk from the presence of these substances is low, but it’s important to know which medications are affected, and what you should do if you are taking one of them.

Why do parents worry about vaccines?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The ongoing measles epidemic spotlights the importance of vaccinations –– and the concerns some parents have about vaccine safety. If you have such concerns, talk to your child’s doctor and learn more about vaccine safety.

Brain-based devices: How well do they work?

Srini Pillay, MD


Brain-based devices claim to offer all kinds of enhancements and improvements, but how can consumers interested in such a device separate legitimate science from mere hype?