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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.


Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer are often given late

Published August 20, 2020

Men with advanced prostate cancer are typically treated with drugs that cause testosterone levels to plummet. Testosterone is a hormone that fuels growing prostate tumors, so ideally this type of treatment, which is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or hormonal therapy, will stall the disease in its tracks. For that to happen, ADT has to […]

Does diet really matter when it comes to adult acne?

Published August 19, 2020

Does what you eat affect whether or not you get acne? This has been debated for a long time. A survey of the dietary habits of more than 24,000 older adults suggests that people who eat a diet high in fat and sugar are more likely to develop adult acne.

Food insecurity, COVID-19, and eating disorders

Published August 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on disparities in health care and socioeconomic status, and drove food insecurity to an all-time high, particularly in communities most affected by the virus. Research shows links between food insecurity and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.

Should we screen all adolescent girls and women for anxiety?

Published August 14, 2020

A national organization that evaluates research and makes recommendations for women’s preventive health care is supporting screening all adolescent girls and women for anxiety disorders. While this idea has merit, there are also risks involved in screening that should be considered, and the benefits should be weighed against potential harms.

An emerging link between the urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence

Published August 12, 2020

The discovery that the urinary tract has a microbiome analogous to the one in the digestive tract has led to research showing that in women with urinary incontinence, their urinary microbiome differs from those in women who do not have urinary incontinence.

Which test is best for COVID-19?

Published August 10, 2020

So much about testing for COVID-19 is confusing — from the types and number of tests available to woefully incomplete information about testing and the changing options. Understanding the current choices can help you make an informed decision about how to proceed if you want to be tested.

Be vigilant about bug spray

Published August 07, 2020

It’s likely people are trying to spend more time outside this summer, whether to avoid indoor situations where COVID-19 may spread or just for enjoyment. But the threat from illnesses spread by ticks and mosquitoes hasn’t changed, so knowing basic information about insect repellent, and using it the right way, will help people protect themselves.

Children, teens, and the safety of psychotropic medicines

Published August 06, 2020

While many children and teens are prescribed psychotropic medicines to treat conditions like depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a comprehensive look at safety data has been lacking. A recent review of multiple studies synthesizes evidence on the side effect profiles of many widely used medicines.

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

Published August 05, 2020

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

School, camp, daycare, and sports physicals: What to do in the time of COVID-19

Published August 04, 2020

Summer activities are underway and some schools will be reopening come September. Does your child need a physical exam, or a form from the pediatrician? Here’s how to think through the options for fulfilling these requirements.

Wondering about goosebumps? Of course you are

Published August 03, 2020

What are goosebumps? Why do we get them? Do they serve a purpose? Some of these questions can be answered, others can’t. But a recent study in mice links goosebumps to stem cells responsible for the regeneration of hair.

Lifestyle changes are important for managing atrial fibrillation

Published July 31, 2020

Many lifestyle factors can influence the development of atrial fibrillation, and doctors now better understand the importance of these factors in treating afib. Those who are at risk of developing afib can take action to improve their health, and in some cases they may be able to reduce their symptoms.

Can appealing to teenagers’ vanity improve sun-protective behaviors?

Published July 30, 2020

Most people understand the risks of sun exposure, even if they do not regularly wear sunscreen, but getting younger people to pay attention to this concern can be difficult. A study chose a novel approach to this problem by appealing to teenagers’ vanity and focus on their appearance.

I can’t tolerate CPAP, what can I do?

Published July 29, 2020

Many people with sleep apnea find that a CPAP machine helps them, but others struggle and have difficulty using a CPAP machine. There are many reasons this could be happening, and it’s important for people to work with their doctor to troubleshoot and try adjustments that can make using the machine easier and more effective.

Avoiding COVID-19 when following the guidelines seems impossible

Published July 28, 2020

By now people understand the measures intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus, yet people with certain conditions may not be able to follow these guidelines. Here are some suggestions that may help.

The lowdown on the low-FODMAP diet

Published July 27, 2020

Studies show that a diet that eliminates or lowers consumption of high-FODMAP foods can reduce symptoms for many people with irritable bowel syndrome. But the process is time-consuming and can be confusing, so it is best undertaken under the supervision of a dietitian.

Youth sports during COVID-19: What parents need to know and do

Published July 24, 2020

Playing youth sports is a great way for children to be active and learn important socialization skills, but the risks of COVID-19 mean parents with children who participate in sports must consider a number of factors when deciding whether to play.

Does air pollution cause Alzheimer’s disease?

Published July 23, 2020

It has been known for some time that air pollution causes heart and lung diseases. Now, results from three different studies on populations in different parts of the world show an association between higher levels of air pollution and greater risk of cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy headphone use: How loud and how long?

Published July 22, 2020

Headphones and earbuds are nearly ubiquitous, but how often do people think about whether or not they are using them safely? Knowing about safe listening levels and safe length of listening time will help people protect themselves while using their listening devices.

Vaccines for COVID-19 moving closer

Published July 21, 2020

Scientists around the world are trying to engineer safe, effective, long-lasting vaccines to help the body block the virus that causes COVID-19. Three vaccine approaches out of more than 100 are among the first to be tested clinically in the United States.

How can I know if my penicillin allergy is real?

Published July 20, 2020

People who are allergic to penicillin are often given less effective medications that can make them more susceptible to infections, but many people who believe they are allergic to penicillin are not. New techniques are allowing medical providers to assess whether or not a person has a true penicillin allergy.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise: What it is and why it matters

Published July 17, 2020

Because metabolic syndrome boosts the risk of developing several serious health problems, a troubling rise in rates of occurrence of metabolic syndrome among certain segments of the US population is of great concern.

Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: Women are less likely to be prescribed certain heart medications

Published July 16, 2020

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of both women and men in the US, but despite the significant impact it has on women, awareness and education for women’s heart disease has historically been low. A recent meta-analysis found that women were significantly less likely to be prescribed common medications for CVD.

Envisioning food security: Steps we take now can help

Published July 15, 2020

Along with historically high unemployment rates, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in food insecurity for millions of Americans, and this problem disproportionately affects lower-income people and racial and ethnic minorities. Temporary measures have helped a bit to ease the situation, and new proposals could do more.