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.

Why is music good for the brain?

A study conducted by AARP found correlation between a person’s engagement with music and their opinion of their brain health and cognitive ability. While the study did not involve any objective measure of brain health, music has been shown to activate multiple areas of the brain, and keeping brain pathways active helps keep the brain strong in older age.

New online model identifies which men can have fewer biopsies on active surveillance

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

During the last decade, more men with favorable-risk prostate cancer that is unlikely to cause symptoms and spread have opted for a monitoring approach called active surveillance (AS) instead of immediate treatment. AS entails routine PSA checks and prostate tumor biopsies, and the cancer is treated only if it progresses. The approach has some drawbacks, […]

As family well-being declines, so does children’s behavior

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mental health of people who have not been sick, and parents are being hit particularly hard. A survey of US parents found that these worsening circumstances also affect children’s behavior.

How to cope when a loved one is depressed, suicidal, or manic

The pandemic has caused a surge in depression. If someone you care about is struggling with depression or bipolar disorder, or you have reason to think the person may be suicidal, there are ways you can help — and caring for yourself is important, too.

New guidelines for aches, pains, and strains

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When a minor injury leads to soreness or discomfort, what’s the best first treatment choice? The American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians recently developed new recommendations based on reviews of more than 200 studies involving nearly 33,000 subjects.

Staying positive during difficult times

The trials and challenges of this year are weighing heavily on many people, but attempting to employ positive psychology to put personal struggles in context, and accepting the ups and downs life brings, can ultimately increase positive feelings and provide perspective.

Whole grains or no grains? Food labels can be misleading

Food labels contain useful information about the nutritional value of the product, but a recent study found that consumers are more likely to be swayed by potentially misleading language on the front of a package than they are to pay attention to the information contained in the Nutrition Facts panel. Knowing how to interpret this information can help consumers make healthier choices.

Sick child this school year? Planning for the inevitable during a pandemic

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Kids get sick: it happens, and most of the time it’s not cause for concern or alarm. But this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic every symptom will be scrutinized. Parents need to be aware of what to do when their child shows signs of illness this year.

Treating mild hypothyroidism: Benefits still uncertain

More than 10 million adults in the US have hypothyroidism — when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs — but the vast majority of these cases are considered mild. Whether or not to treat mild hypothyroidism is an ongoing debate. There is a possible link between mild hypothyroidism and coronary artery disease, but researchers found that treating it in older people did not provide any benefit.

Managing the new normal: Actively help your family weather the pandemic

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

More than six months into the pandemic, it’s clear that we are going to be living with it for some time, and that expectations of life soon returning to normal are not realistic. This is a good time to assess the adjustments we’ve made and see how we can make different choices to get ourselves and our families through the challenge.