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Harvard Health Blog

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


New study investigates treatment-associated regrets in prostate cancer

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have to make difficult choices about medical therapy, and hope that they will not later regret their treatment decisions. But a study found that such regrets are common, mainly because of differences between their expectations and actual experience.

Minimizing successes and magnifying failures? Change your distorted thinking

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we question our own abilities, minimize our successes, and overemphasize what we perceive to be our failures. When this happens, it's helpful to try to view the situation more clearly and from a more balanced point of view. This takes practice, but the process starts with awareness.

Are poinsettias, mistletoe, or holly plants dangerous?

It's commonly believed that poinsettia plants are poisonous, but are they? If they are dangerous, what can happen if some is ingested? What about other popular holiday-season plants like mistletoe or holly? If you have any of these in your home, what should you know about them?

Waiting for motivation to strike? Try rethinking that

We all know that motivation is key to accomplishing our goals, but even if you have a much-desired goal in mind, it's too easy for motivation to dissipate. Before setting a goal, it's critical to identify why it is important to you, to create a detailed plan that outlines how you will achieve it, and to make a to-do list so you can track your progress.

Thinking of trying Dry January? Steps for success

Many people have been drinking more since the start of the pandemic. If you want to cut down on your alcohol consumption, or just want to start the new year on a healthy note, consider joining the Dry January challenge. Does a month seem like a long time? Here are steps you can take to improve your chances of success.

5 numbers linked to ideal heart health

Five numbers give a thumbnail assessment of overall heart health and what factors people might need to address to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke. These numbers offer ideal goals for most people, although targets vary for individuals based on age or other health conditions.

How can mindfulness practices help with migraine?

Many common medication treatments for migraine can cause side effects, underlining the need for more tolerable treatments. Mindfulness practice has been associated with improvement in people with chronic pain, including migraine. A study investigated whether mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques provided benefit for people experiencing migraine.

Navigating a chronic illness during the holidays

The holiday season is a stress test we create for ourselves, but for people living with a chronic illness, the need to heed signs of fatigue can conflict with the desire to ensure others enjoy themselves. What does an illness have to teach us about self-care? The lessons are relevant to everyone, whether living with an illness or not.

Gift giving for family or friends in assisted living

If you have a family member or other loved one in an assisted living facility, it might seem difficult to choose a useful and meaningful gift for that person. But thinking about the person's particular circumstances, needs, and interests will help you select a gift that will be appreciated and enjoyed.

Got back pain? Can virtual reality provide real pain relief?

Chronic low back pain is a leading cause of long-lasting pain and disability worldwide. Treatment options help some people but not all, leaving millions seeking safe, effective treatment. An 8-week program using a virtual reality device aims to offers lasting relief, but valid questions about evidence of effectiveness have not yet been answered.

Saturated fat and low-carb diets: Still more to learn?

Low-carbohydrate diets have been popular for many years, but due to the high amounts of saturated fat, doctors and nutritionists worry about possible increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study comparing three diets found that eating a high-fat diet did not necessarily raise heart risk, but the types and quantities of food make a difference.

Tinnitus: Ringing or humming in your ears? Sound therapy is one option

Millions of people have tinnitus, a condition where a person hears a sound inside the head that does not come from any external source. There are many possible causes and no cure, but there are ways to ease the symptoms, one of which is sound therapy, which uses external sound to alter a person's perception of or reaction to tinnitus.

Naps: Make the most of them and know when to stop them

As babies become toddlers, when they need to nap and for how long evolves, so parents and caregivers need to know how to handle the changes, as well as how to know when naps are no longer needed.

Making holiday shopping decisions quicker and with less stress

The holiday season often makes people feel stressed out over choosing gifts. Everyone wants to give a gift that the recipient will be excited about, but expectations and the fear of making the wrong choice undermine the thinking process. Can people get better at making decisions? Yes, but it requires accepting that there is no ideal choice, and approaching the process with the proper focus.

Yoga for weight loss: Benefits beyond burning calories

Obesity is a complex disease, and many factors contribute to weight gain and hinder efforts to lose weight. There is no single solution to weight loss, but there is good research that yoga may help manage stress, improve mood, curb emotional eating, and create a community of support, all of which can help with weight loss and maintenance.

Embryo donation: One possible path after IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has helped countless people who were unable to conceive to have children. Frequently, the process results in additional embryos remaining, eventually leading to the question of what to do with them. Embryo donation is one of several options and deciding which path to pursue may not be easy.

How to stay strong and coordinated as you age

Many physical abilities decline with age, along with changes that occur in coordinating the movements of the body. One of the most significant causes of this decline is reduced physical activity. In fact, as people age it becomes even more important to exercise regularly, and regular activity can help improve strength and coordination.

Acupuncture relieves prostatitis symptoms in study

Prostatitis is a common inflammatory condition, but most cases have no obvious cause. Treatments are varied and include anti-inflammatory painkillers and alpha blockers, but a clinical trial showed that acupuncture has the potential to reduce symptoms of prostatitis without the side effects that drugs can cause.

Skin in the game: Common skin problems and solutions for men

Dry skin and athlete's foot affect many men. There are several treatment options for both conditions, and steps you can take to prevent them from occurring or returning.

Anti-inflammatory food superstars for every season

Inflammation is part of the body's healing process, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a range of health issues. In every season, regularly eating a variety of anti-inflammatory foods can benefit your health.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: An upbeat ad for a psoriasis treatment

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease characterized by rough, inflamed patches. There are a number of treatment options available, including a medication called Skyrizi that is given as an injection. Does an upbeat, frequently-run ad on TV clearly deliver all the information people need to know about this drug –– or just some of it?

A new targeted treatment for early-stage breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and treatment strategies vary by subtype, stage, and more. A new targeted therapy may help some women with early-stage breast cancer linked to BRCA gene mutations.

What is neurodiversity?

The term neurodiversity conveys the idea that there is no single right way of thinking, learning, or behaving, and is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder. A growing self-advocacy movement aims to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences.

Thinking about holiday gatherings? Harvard Health experts weigh in

If you are gathering with family or friends during this holiday season there is still a lot of uncertainty around how to help keep everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19 illnesses and hospitalizations, particularly when many people will be traveling. Harvard Health Publishing faculty contributors share their own holiday plans and offer advice for safely enjoying the holidays this year.

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