Recent Blog Articles

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.


Olive oil or coconut oil: Which is worthy of kitchen-staple status?

Published June 18, 2020

Coconut oil has been championed as having many benefits to health, but evidence to support these assertions remains sparse. However, there is far more evidence to support the benefits of olive oil, even in the context of typical American diets.

Summer’s here, teens and parents — now what?

Published June 17, 2020

For many teens, summer activities like jobs, internships, and camps are probably on hold this year, and a sense of uncertainty hovers over nearly everything. How can parents guide teens and help them flourish while also keeping them safe?

Global mental health in the time of COVID-19

Published June 16, 2020

The singular focus of health care services on COVID-19 has disrupted mental health care, and people with new or existing issues are having difficulty accessing much-needed care. A global initiative launched at Harvard Medical School aims to rectify this situation and transform global mental health.

New drugs approved for advanced BRCA-positive prostate cancer

Published June 15, 2020

Defective BRCA genes are well known for their ability to cause breast and ovarian cancers in women. But these same gene defects are also strong risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer in men. About 10% of men with metastatic prostate cancer — meaning cancer that is spreading away from the prostate — test positive for […]

Treating mild sleep apnea: Should you consider a CPAP device?

Published June 15, 2020

Obstructive sleep apnea affects an estimated 20% of the population, and if untreated it has negative effects on cardiac and metabolic health as well as quality of life. If the condition is moderate or severe, a CPAP machine is the first-line treatment, but there is less consensus about treatment of mild OSA.

How to stock a plant-based pantry (and fridge) on a budget

Published June 12, 2020

Given the economic stresses stemming from the current pandemic situation, many of us are trying to maintain healthy eating habits while also spending less. Adjusting your food purchases to include more plant-based choices can help your health and your budget.

Driving across the country in a pandemic

Published June 11, 2020

Driving halfway across the country may not seem enticing these days, but at the moment traveling by car is arguably safer than traveling by plane. If you’re considering a road trip, some planning will make things easier — and safer.

Better heart health in eight weeks? Double down on fruits and veggies

Published June 11, 2020

Want to improve heart health? New research based on blood samples from the original DASH diet shows the DASH diet and another diet high in fruits and veggies can lower measures of heart strain and heart muscle damage within eight weeks.

Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests

Published June 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new challenges for people with autism spectrum disorder. Adapting to wearing face masks and the experience of a COVID-19 test are particularly challenging, but there are strategies that can help these individuals meet the challenges.

Study gives insight — and advice — on picky eating in children

Published June 09, 2020

All children are picky eaters at some point in childhood, but some are pickier than others. What’s a parent to do? Researchers looked at this phenomenon and reached some helpful conclusions.

Are statins enough? When to consider PCSK9 inhibitors

Published June 08, 2020

Statins have been used to treat high cholesterol for decades, but some people who take statins still have LDL cholesterol levels that are too high. A different type of medication, PCSK9 inhibitors, were approved several years ago and are showing effectiveness in lowering LDL in such people.

How to socialize in a pandemic

Published June 05, 2020

Some social distancing will be needed for many more months, or even years, to keep the coronavirus at bay. But abstaining from all social contact for the long haul won’t be a sustainable option for most people. So, how can we make decisions about socializing safely?

The doctor will “see” you now: Teledermatology in the era of COVID-19

Published June 04, 2020

Doctors are increasingly turning to telemedicine as a way to safely treat patients during the COVID-19 crisis. Dermatology is well-suited for telemedicine, though there are limitations due to the limits of technology, and certain conditions that must be seen and treated in person.

Easing stress and seeking normalcy in traumatic times

Published June 03, 2020

Traumatic events, whether global or in a person’s own life, can take a toll on mental health. How can you reduce your stress and regain your emotional composure after going through a difficult time?

5 winning ways for kids to burn energy

Published June 02, 2020

After a couple of months of sheltering in place, and with warm weather upon us, your children probably have plenty of excess energy. Here are five suggestions for activities that will get them moving — and there’s nothing stopping parents from joining in.

Bracing for contact tracing

Published June 01, 2020

As states reopen, contact tracing — locating and testing people known to have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 — will be an important tool to help contain further spread of illness. But how does it work, and what do you need to know about it?

Can forest therapy enhance health and well-being?

Published May 29, 2020

When you were a child and your mother told you to go play outside, it wasn’t just because she needed some child-free time. Inspired by a Japanese practice, forest therapy is an immersion in nature that has been shown to have positive effects on health.

Can celiac disease affect life expectancy?

Published May 28, 2020

Previously thought to affect mainly children, celiac disease is now understood to be a systemic disorder that can develop at any age. A recent study found a small but significant risk of increased mortality in those with CD, but managing the condition through proper diet and medical care can mitigate the risk.

Collaborative care: Treating mental illnesses in primary care

Published May 27, 2020

Collaborative care is a team-based model of integrated psychiatric and primary care that can treat mental illnesses in the primary care setting. Providing this patient-centered care in the primary care setting improves access to mental health care and reduces stigma.

If cannabis becomes a problem: How to manage withdrawal

Published May 26, 2020

There is disagreement over whether or not there is such a thing as a cannabis withdrawal syndrome, but it’s definitely real, and with increased availability of legal marijuana and other products, even those who use it medicinally need to be aware of the symptoms, and what to do if they think they have it.

Combining different biopsies limits uncertainty in prostate cancer diagnosis

Published May 26, 2020

Are prostate cancer biopsies reliably accurate? Not always. The most common method, called a systematic biopsy, sometimes misses tumors, and it can also misclassify cancer as being either more or less aggressive than it really is. During systematic biopsy, a doctor takes 12 evenly-spaced samples of the prostate, called cores, while looking at the gland […]

When dieting doesn’t work

Published May 25, 2020

Most diets can help you lose weight, but that weight is frequently regained within a few months — a fact supported by an analysis of more than 100 research trials on diets. But losing weight is easier, and more likely to be permanent, if you choose a diet with foods you actually like.

Reducing your risk of changes in thinking following surgery

Published May 22, 2020

As more older people undergo surgeries, the risk of complications increases, including for cognitive decline following their procedures, particularly after cardiac surgery. But awareness and pre-planning with your care team can help you avoid such complications.

Are there benefits of cardiac catheterization for stable coronary artery disease?

Published May 21, 2020

In patients with acute coronary syndrome, studies have shown that cardiac catheterization can decrease heart attacks and improve survival. A recent study attempted to determine if the procedure would have comparable results in people with a more stable form of coronary artery disease.