Nancy Ferrari

Nancy Ferrari is a managing editor at Harvard Health Publishing and a former editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before joining Harvard Health, Nancy was a writer and editor in the Clinical Publications Program at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.  She began her work there as a women's health writer creating patient education materials and then became the manager of the program.  Nancy's writing and editing experience includes work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked at the Journal of Science, Technology, and Human Values and served as editor of a conference proceedings on energy and the environment.


Posts by Nancy Ferrari

New imaging technique may help some men avoid prostate biopsy

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Men who have high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood face troubling uncertainties. While it’s true that prostate cancer can elevate PSA, so can other conditions, including the benign prostate enlargement that afflicts many men as they get older. PSA levels also vary normally from one man to the next, and some men […]

Promising results for a targeted drug in advanced prostate cancer

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

It’s well known that defective BRCA genes can increase a woman’s chances of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers. But these same gene changes can also increase a man’s risk of dying from prostate cancer. Now, a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that men with prostate cancer who […]

Heart-healthy diet boosts survival in men with low-risk prostate cancer

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Can a healthy diet help men with low-risk prostate cancer live longer? The authors of a new study say “yes.” A long-running Physicians’ Health Study, suggests that a diet that is good for the heart, brain, and other parts of the body may also help keep low-risk prostate cancer at bay. On the flip side, a diet rich in red meat and high-fat dairy foods appears to be hazardous for men with this kind of cancer. It isn’t clear why a diet that protects against heart disease would also protect against death from prostate cancer. Dr. Chavarro speculates that it’s because high-fat foods are easily broken down and absorbed by the digestive system, and so they might provide quick energy sources for growing tumors. Nevertheless, the results suggest that by eating healthily, men with prostate cancer can take a proactive step towards living a long life.

Direct-to-consumer drug advertising — beyond what you see on TV

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Consumers are barraged by ads for prescription drugs on television and in print. Twenty years ago, people who knew the names of the drugs available for their health conditions, and knew to ask for new drugs by name, were few and far between. But today, direct-to-consumer ads encourage patients to ask their doctors for new (and often pricey) medications. While it isn’t bad to inform people about new and potentially better medications, this tidal wave of advertising has a downside. Potential side effects and risks are not always completely and plainly explained and the cost of these drugs is often not made clear. While it is fine to ask your doctor about a drug you’ve seen on TV or elsewhere, be aware that a new medicine is not necessarily a better medicine — or the right one for you.

Standing up for better heart health

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Spending less time sitting and more time standing lowers blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight — all of which translates into a lower risk for heart disease. So says a study of Australian adults published in the July 30 issue of the European Heart Journal. Every two hours a day spent sitting was associated with an increase in weight and waist size, as well as in levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. As you might expect, time spent walking rather than sitting not only lowered cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but also reduced waist size and weight. Simply substituting two hours of standing for sitting also improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels. By making slight changes in your lifestyle to incorporate more standing, you could add important health benefits.

5 tips to make the Boston Marathon your marathon

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

On Marathon Monday, thousands of runners will start in Hopkinton, Mass., and finish in Copley Square. Some will glide along, some will lope, and others will shuffle. No matter how they run, or how fast they run, running the Boston Marathon is something special. Here are a few tips to make the Boston Marathon your marathon. 1) Never wear something on marathon day you haven’t worn for a distance run before. 2) If family or friends will be watching you along the route, try to know in advance where they will be. 3. “The wall” is real so have a plan. 4. Try to take in the atmosphere. 5. Enjoy the camaraderie.

How to monitor prostate cancer using active surveillance

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Forms of radiation therapy for prostate cancer

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Here is a table that contains the many different radiation therapy options for prostate cancer. It includes who the ideal candidates are, recovery time, possible side effects, and the advantages/disadvantages for each.

Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can last for years

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

According to conventional medical wisdom, menopause-related hot flashes fade away after six to 24 months. Not so, says a new study of women going through menopause. Hot flashes and related night sweats last, on average, for about seven years and may go on for 11 years or more. The new estimates of the duration of these symptoms come from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a long-term study of women of different races and ethnicities who are in the menopausal transition. The “reality check” the SWAN study provides on hot flashes should encourage women to talk with a doctor about treatment options. These range from estrogen-based hormone therapy to other medications and self-help measures.

Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Getting to a healthy weight and staying there isn’t always easy. Many complicated diets offer solutions. A study published in today’s Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that something as simple as aiming to eat more fiber each day can be just as good as a more complicated diet. In a head-to-head study of a simple diet (eat more fiber) and a complex one (eat more fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and lean protein but also cut back on salt, sugar, fat, and alcohol), participants lost almost the same amounts of weight on either diet. Both diets led to similar improvements in blood pressure the body’s response to insulin. The results of the study don’t prove that a high-fiber diet is necessarily as good (or better) for health than the AHA diet or the highly in-vogue Mediterranean diet. But it does suggest that one simple step can make a difference and that encouraging healthy behaviors may be more effective than discouraging unhealthy ones.