Harvard Health Blog

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

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Stem cell progress: Turning skin cells into heart cells

Embryonic stem cell research continues to be a political and legal hot potato that stirs up a lot of emotion and argument. In the meantime, researchers are making some remarkable progress using an alternative stem cell approach called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs (sometimes that gets  shortened to iPS). An induced pluripotent stem cell is an adult cell, often a skin cell, […]

Americans lag on exercise

Only one in six Americans meet recommended targets for physical activity. If you aren’t one of them, identifying your barriers to exercise can help.

Kiss-kiss CPR: The mouth-to-mouth part may not be needed

The advice to “keep it simple, stupid”—kiss, kiss—seems to apply to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But with CPR, kiss-kiss means no mouth-to-mouth contact. A study published in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) adds to the evidence that the old way of doing CPR—alternating chest compressions with blows into the mouth—is needlessly complicated in most cases (there are exceptions, which we will get into below). Instead, this study and others (The New England […]

Are drugs lurking in your dietary supplements?

Another day, another safety alert from the FDA that a so-called dietary supplement or natural herbal remedy actually contains a drug. That’s the eighth such warning in the last three months (see FDA warnings). The latest one warns that products marketed as “natural testosterone boosters” or sex enhancers, including Arom-X, 4-AD, Decavol, and Reversitol, contain […]

1 in 10 Americans Depressed

In time for National Depression Screening Day (October 7, 2010) and Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9, 2010), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published survey data on depressed mood in the United States. The report summarizes responses to a standardized questionnaire administered in 2006 and 2008. The researchers asked 235,067 adults about […]

Experimental drug seems safe, effective against prostate cancer

A study published in the journal Lancet found that the experimental drug MDV3100 is both safe and effective for prostate cancer patients with advanced disease that no longer responds to hormone therapy.

Statins may stop prostate cancer’s return

A 2010 study finds that statins, a class of drugs taken to lower cholesterol, may prevent prostate cancer from recurring after surgery.

Naps for young doctors

Doctors-in-training should be encouraged to do some on-the-job napping, according to the organization that sets the standards for residency programs around the country. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) issued new standards yesterday that came out in favor of a well-timed snooze. The guidelines, which are scheduled to go into effect next year, say this: Programs must encourage residents to use alertness […]

Avandia: Fishing with the wrong bait?

The news yesterday that FDA is putting tighter restrictions on Avandia (rosiglitazone), the diabetes drugs, was important but not surprising. In July, an advisory panel to the agency took a rather dim view of the drug.  Ten of the 32 votes were for increased warnings and tighter restrictions, and 12 were for pulling the drug off the market completely (which is what European regulators decided to […]

Strong warning on diabetes drug Avandia

Rosiglitazone (Avandia) should be used only by people who can’t control their diabetes other ways, the FDA said today. Across the Atlantic, the European Medicines Agency ordered rosiglitazone off the market until its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, can supply “convincing data” that there exists a group of people with diabetes for whom the blood-sugar-lowering benefit of taking rosiglitazone […]

Synthetic biology: Really cool science not yet ready for prime time

One of the joys of working at Harvard Medical School, at least for those of us who are nerds, is the chance to attend free lectures by scientists who are pushing the boundaries of how we understand the world. So while we usually cover practical health-related topics in this blog, I thought I’d take a […]

Distinguishing depression from normal adolescent mood swings

Parents often wonder how to distinguish normal teenage mood swings and rebellions from actual symptoms of depression. I asked Dr. Nadja N. Reilly, a member of the editorial board of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, for some advice on this topic. Dr. Reilly has a particular interest in finding ways to identify and prevent youth […]

No big whoop: Adult pertussis may not produce the whooping cough

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified […]

Those biking Bankers: Active commuters to the World Bank

After the article on cycling in the August 2010 issue of the Health Letter, we heard from Gary Reid, a public sector management specialist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Reid is impressive. He commutes by bicycle 14.5 miles one-way (29 miles round-trip) from his home in McLean, Virginia, to the Bank headquarters, which is a just couple […]

Eating for prostate health

Patients frequently ask for a list of foods they can eat to help shield them from prostate cancer. Although some foods have been linked with reduced risk of prostate cancer, the proof of their effectiveness is lacking.

Advice for dealing with school bullies

Although adults sometimes dismiss it as a childhood rite of passage, bullying in school is now recognized as a form of aggression that may have long-lasting psychological ramifications — for both victims and perpetrators. Most research on bullying has been done in Australia and Europe, where rates of frequent bullying range from 2% of youths […]

Prostate cancer vaccine approved by the FDA

Sipuleucel-T (Provenge), a “vaccine” that uses a patients immune system to fight advanced stage disease, was approved by the FDA in April 2010. The vaccine does not prevent cancer; rather, it helps men with advanced stage, hormone-resistant disease live longer.

Rethinking when to biopsy

A prostate cancer diagnosis may send a man to the operating room or drive him to get radiation therapy—even when the cancer is unlikely to spread or cause harm. That’s causing some to wonder when a biopsy should really be done.

Statins, aspirin may hide prostate cancer

Research suggests that these drugs could potentially mask changes in a man’s PSA and interfere with the detection of prostate cancer.

Degarelix approved for advanced prostate cancer

This injectable form of hormone therapy received FDA approval in December 2008.

HIFU controls recurrent cancer in short run

Researchers find that high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) may be effective in treating localized recurrent prostate cancer while also minimizing the chances of side effects.

Hormone therapy doesn’t seem to raise risk of cardiac death

Prostate cancer drug treatments that block the activity of hormones have been associated with a higher risk of heart attack and heart disease. But a 2009 study suggests that these drugs may not cause cardiovascular problems after all.

Statins show no effect on PSA levels

Ever since the FDA approved the first cholesterol-lowering statin in 1987, use of the drugs has steadily increased, with an estimated 13 million Americans taking them to ward off heart and vascular disease. Recently, statins have gained additional attention, thanks to studies showing the drugs might have anticancer properties. But researchers have inconsistent answers to […]

Stress and prostatitis

High levels of stress, poor emotional health, and a lack of social support seem to be linked to a history of prostatitis. Stress also seems to heighten pain associated with the condition.

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