Harvard Health Blog

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

How early can you — and should you — diagnose autism?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

If a parent thinks a child might have autism, it helps to get a definitive diagnosis as early as possible, since the earlier treatment can begin, the better it is for the child. But at what age can a reliable diagnosis be made?

When it comes to cholesterol levels, white meat may be no better than red meat — and plant-based protein beats both

Plenty of people avoid red meat or eat only small amounts of it. But relying on white meat for protein may not be such a good nutrition choice either. According to the results of a small study, those who ate red meat and white meat had similarly higher cholesterol levels.

Talking to your doctor about your LGBTQ+ sex life

Talking about sexuality with a doctor can be uncomfortable. If you identify as LGBTQ+, it’s important to find a doctor who is attuned to the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community. This can make getting proper care easier.

Rising temperatures? How to avoid heat-related illnesses and deaths

Hotter summer temperatures and prolonged periods of intense heat can lead to heat-related illness — and even deaths. People who are elderly and those with existing health problems are especially vulnerable. Know what to do to protect yourself and others.

Why do you need a primary care physician?

Primary care physicians treat adult patients for common ailments and chronic conditions, and also manage their patients’ treatments, often working with teams of caregivers. Establishing a relationship with a PCP allows your doctor to get to know you and your needs and goals.

Teens and confidentiality

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Offering teens privacy and confidentiality when meeting with a health care provider may allow them to discuss uncomfortable topics –– such as risky behavior, physical concerns, feeling anxious or depressed –– a step toward getting needed information and help.

Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers?

Plant-based burgers like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger promote themselves as better for the planet and as healthier alternatives to meat, and they contain ample protein and other important nutrients, but that’s not the whole story.

I’m in pain, so why is my doctor suggesting a psychologist?

David Boyce, MD

Contributor

The negative emotions that come from coping with chronic pain can lead to depression, and that very depression can lead to worse pain. Understanding the connection between pain and emotional health with the help of a psychologist can address these issues, and there are evidence-based therapies that can help as well.

Do employee wellness programs actually work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

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 […]