Health

Edibles and children: Poison center calls rise

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As more states have legalized the use of marijuana and products derived from it, more children are being exposed. Children can’t be trusted not to eat appealing-looking food items they may find, so it’s up to adults to take precautions and make sure edibles are stored where children can’t find them.

Pills and the planet: Environmentally-friendly steps for your medicine cabinet

Wynne Armand, MD

Contributor

The key factor causing climate change is greenhouse gas emissions, and the health care industry plays a significant role, with drugs and chemicals being the biggest contributor. While the benefits of medications to the world can’t be overstated, here’s how to balance the need for them with concern for the environment.

Diet, disease, and the microbiome

A healthy microbiome — the genes of tiny organisms living in the digestive tract — helps protect its human host from chronic diseases. Researchers do not yet fully understand the connection, but it appears that eating unprocessed plant-based foods allows the gut microbiome to thrive.

Want healthy eyes? What to know at 40 and beyond

While eye problems can affect people of any age, some conditions become more common after age 40. Some are normal, or at least expected; others are of greater concern and will require treatment. Here’s how to keep your eyes healthy and address certain problems.

Could COVID-19 infection be responsible for your depressed mood or anxiety?

We are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the brain, but we know that the pandemic has resulted in worsening mental health for many people. A new study confirmed that COVID-19 infection increased the risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

Are antidepressants also pain relievers?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Antidepressant medications are frequently prescribed for chronic pain, particularly neck or low back pain and certain types of arthritis — though other treatments are usually tried first. An analysis of past research considered how effective antidepressants are for these types of pain, but the results are not encouraging.

Anti-Asian racism: Breaking through stereotypes and silence

On top of the unprecedented strains that COVID-19 has has placed on all of us, Asian Americans have confronted skyrocketing rates of discrimination, verbal assaults, and physical violence. The cumulative burden of these incidents contributes to mental and emotional trauma, even among those not directly attacked.

Can some postmenopausal women with breast cancer skip chemotherapy?

Advances in breast cancer research have led to more personalized treatments, based on subtyping and more sophisticated testing. A risk assessment test can predict that some women do not need chemotherapy but will benefit from hormone therapy, and who might benefit more from both treatments.

Stress may be getting to your skin, but it’s not a one-way street

In addition to everything else associated with stress, it can have negative effects on the skin, and can also aggravate certain skin conditions. But skin and hair also produce stress-inducing signals that can travel back to the brain, adding to psychological stress and perpetuating a stress cycle.

The art of a heartfelt apology

If you have upset someone, the best way to rectify the situation is by making a sincere, heartfelt apology. But just saying the words isn’t quite enough: for an apology to be effective, it has to be genuine. You have to mean it, and you have to make that clear.