Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 25 years.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Is obesity a reason to avoid joint replacement surgery?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Overweight people are often turned down for joint replacement surgery, or told to lose a lot of weight first. But a new study found that having obesity should not be a deterrent to having joint surgery.

Why the wheelchair? Could it be gout?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Though only a small percentage of the population has gout, that number is on the rise. While dietary choices have long been believed to be a major cause of gout, a new study found that genetic factors matter much more.

How long does a joint replacement last?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A person considering a knee or hip replacement needs to weigh how long the new joint will last as part of the decision-making process. Analyses of hundreds of thousands of hip and knee replacements show encouraging results for those facing this decision.

Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

While the long-term health consequences of using e-cigarettes are still unknown, a study comparing vaping with nicotine replacement therapy found that it may be useful as a tool to help some smokers quit.

Sweeteners: Time to rethink your choices?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Non-sugar sweeteners are popular, but there have been questions about their safety, so are they worth it? Researchers examined dozens of studies to assess the risks and benefits of various sweeteners available.

What’s in your supplements?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of Americans take some kind of supplement, but because supplements are not regulated like prescription drugs are, taking one is not always safe. Researchers have found many instances of hidden ingredients and inaccurate quantities listed on the label.

In defense of French fries

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Researchers found that frequent consumers of French fries don’t live as long as those who eat them less often, but as is often the case, the conclusion only tells part of the story. Are French fries really a “death food”? Not necessarily, and probably not.

Alternative therapies for cancer

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study of two million people receiving cancer treatment found that those who chose a complementary treatment along with conventional treatment had less successful outcomes (did not live as long).

Does weather affect arthritis pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The question of whether there is a link between weather and aches and pains has been studied extensively, and so far researchers have been unable to establish a connection. So why do plenty of people insist that they can “feel” the weather?

Can watching sports be bad for your health?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It probably doesn’t seem like watching a sporting event would be a health hazard, and for most people that’s true. However, just watching a game at home on TV can cause a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which could be dangerous for someone with cardiovascular disease.