Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Comparing traditional and robotic-assisted surgery for prostate cancer

Today, most surgeries to remove the prostate gland in men with prostate cancer are performed with robotic assistance, which ostensibly offers quality-of-life advantages. But how does this method compare with traditional open surgery? A recent study provides some clarity.

Can vitamin D supplements prevent autoimmune disease?

Claims that vitamin D supplements are beneficial to health are common, but many of these supposed benefits remain unproven. A recent study looked at data from over 25,000 people in an attempt to determine if taking vitamin D regularly might help prevent autoimmune disease.


The plant milk shake-up: Pea and pistachio join oat and almond

Pea, potato, and pistachio milk? Supermarkets now sell multiple kinds of plant-based milks made from nuts, beans, grains, vegetables, or fruit. Before trying these, some people might like to know more about nutritional benefits and any other reasons to choose or avoid them.

Sex, drugs, and depression: What your doctor needs to know

For many people, a visit to the doctor causes anxiety, and discussing sensitive subjects like sexual problems, substance use, or mental health issues is even more likely to induce discomfort. But these discussions can be less anxiety-inducing and more productive if people know what to expect.

Paths to parenting: Choosing single parenthood through pregnancy

Choosing to become pregnant and parent without a partner is increasingly common and more widely accepted than in the past, but deciding to pursue this path can be lonely. Additionally, there are important questions about financial security and the support of family and friends that a prospective single parent needs to consider.

Brain fog: Memory and attention after COVID-19

Brain fog, meaning slow or sluggish thinking, can occur under many different circumstances. In many cases, it is temporary and gets better on its own. Many people who have recovered from COVID-19 report some degree of brain fog and a study suggests even those with milder cases may experience problems with memory and attention.

Why all the buzz about inflammation — and just how bad is it?

Inflammation is the body's response to an injury, allergy, or infection, a reaction that attempts to restore the health of the affected area. But that's only part of the story, because there are two types of inflammation, and it's important to know the difference—and what is and isn't true about all types.

"Vitamin M" — is melatonin the cure for your sleep problems?

The CDC estimates that 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. For some, melatonin is believed to be a safe treatment option because it is a hormone produced by our bodies. But evidence of its effectiveness is lacking, and inconsistent quality of product is a concern.

The care that transgender youth need and deserve

Some people feel very strongly that their gender is not the one they were assigned at birth. When families, health care providers, and others ignore or deny this, or try to stop the person from living as the gender they feel is right for them, it's not only unkind but dangerous.

Warming up to the cold: Staying active in any weather

It's difficult to get motivated to be active outside during cold-weather months, but it's important to your health and can help you meet any fitness goals you're trying to reach. There are ways to get outside and moving in cold temperatures.

Addressing poor sleep may help heart health

Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep is linked to a host of health problems, including a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Now, a recent study on people in midlife finds that having a combination of sleep problems may nearly triple a person's risk of heart disease.

The mental health crisis among children and teens: How parents can help

Alarming rates of anxiety and depression are affecting children and teens across the US. While calls are made to expand much-needed programs and access to services, there are actions parents can take today to support their children's mental health.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A blood thinner winner?

Medicines known as blood thinners are prescribed as long-term treatment to avoid initial or recurring blood clots that could cause serious complications. What does an ad in heavy rotation about the brand name blood thinner Eliquis get right and what else do you need to consider?

Close relationships with neighbors influence cardiovascular health in Black adults

A study of Black adults living in the Atlanta area suggests that feeling rooted in community and socializing with neighbors may strongly contribute to better cardiovascular health, which might lower risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Can breastfeeding really prevent pregnancy?

New parents might want to wait awhile before considering having another child, and breastfeeding prevents ovulation, so some people use it as a natural birth control method during the early months of an infant's life. However, it's effective only if a mother is breastfeeding frequently and an infant is receiving only breast milk as food.

Olive oil: Can it lower your risk of dying early?

The benefits of olive oil to help reduce the risk of heart disease are well-known, but a recent study showed that people who consumed the highest amount of olive oil daily had a lower overall risk of dying early, as well as lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

Taking an aging parent to the doctor? 10 helpful tips

When you take an aging parent to a medical appointment, you wind up playing many roles. Millions of people in the US are caring for family members and are learning as they go along, so they can benefit from tips to keep them on track before, during, and after the appointment.

Resilience: 5 ways to help children and teens learn it

The past two years have been hard and children and teens have had to deal with particularly challenging circumstances. Resilience—the ability to overcome hardship and stress—is one of the most important skills parents can teach their children.

Could cataract surgery protect against dementia?

Having surgery to remove cataracts restores blurred or distorted vision, helping to improve quality of life for older adults. Now, a new study makes a strong case that removing cataracts may reduce a person's risk of developing dementia.

Another natural remedy for constipation?

Constipation can describe many types of problems with moving your bowels. It becomes chronic when it lasts for weeks or months. Many people are interested in natural remedies for constipation, and one of the most common is adding fiber to your diet. A new study compared three natural sources of fiber, with encouraging results.

Even low-level air pollution may harm health

The burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change, and pollution from this burning has been linked to millions of premature deaths worldwide. And, according to a new report, even low levels of air pollution may harm our health although we can take steps to limit exposure.

Does the sex of your surgeon matter? A new study says yes

If you need surgery, does the sex of the surgeon matter? A study reviewed procedures done in Canada over a 12-year period involving more than a million adults, and found that in general, people operated on by female surgeons were less likely to experience complications. But why?



Can we prevent depression in older adults by treating insomnia?

Depression is common among older adults, and insomnia doubles the risk of major depressive disorder. There is increasing evidence that treating insomnia in older people who have both insomnia and major depression has the potential to improve both their sleep and their mood.

Health disparities and headache treatment

Migraines are a common neurologic condition, but it's estimated that in the US only about a quarter of adults with migraine are able to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Part of the reason for this is likely due to disparities in health care, and researchers found evidence of disparities related to race, socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, and geography.

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