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.


Boosting your child's immune system

As children go through another school year under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are asking what they can do to keep their children healthy. While no magic solutions can ward off every illness, parents can take steps to help children — and everyone in their household — protect their health by keeping their immune systems robust.

Study: No effect on cognitive functioning from treatments for advanced prostate cancer

Some people being treated for cancer experience problems with memory and thinking, but most of the evidence for these effects comes from women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. A recent study looked at whether men being treated for prostate cancer experienced similar effects.

Surprising findings about metabolism and age

Metabolism is combination of all the chemical processes that allow an organism to sustain life. Multiple factors like age, sex, body mass, physical activity all have an effect on metabolism, but a new study revealed surprising information about the timing of age-related changes in metabolism over the course of the lifespan.

POTS: Diagnosing and treating this dizzying syndrome

Most of us don't think twice about standing up, but for people affected by postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), standing can provoke lightheadedness and a racing heartbeat. While some people with POTS will require medications, most will improve with some specific dietary and behavioral changes.

Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?

Researchers studying weight gain during the pandemic looked at health records for millions of people from both before it and during the first year of it. Unsurprisingly, a significant percentage of people gained weight, but less expected is that nearly as many people lost weight during the same time period.

Dropping anchor on big emotions

When children are learning about their emotions and how to manage them, there can be spillovers at school and at home. Parents can help their child or teen navigate big emotions by talking about them, modeling calm behavior, and offering coping strategies like grounding and anchoring.

POTS: Lightheadedness and a racing heart

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition characterized by lightheadedness or dizziness when standing and a racing heart. The underlying cause is not known, although it sometimes follows bedrest after injury or illness. Recently, POTS has been diagnosed in some people who have had COVID-19.

Why try for a vaginal birth after a cesarean?

In the US, nearly a third of babies born arrive by cesarean delivery, and once a person has had a cesarean birth, the odds increase that any subsequent babies will be delivered the same way. Why is trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) helpful and how has a calculator intended to predict the likelihood of successful outcomes changed to help discourage health disparities?

Is metformin a wonder drug?

Metformin, a medicine prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes, also has cardiovascular benefits and is used off-label to treat other conditions. Interest is growing in its potential to help lower risks for other serious health problems and even slow aspects of aging, but which of these benefits, if any, apply to people who do not have diabetes?



Poverty, homelessness, and social stigma make addiction more deadly

Addiction can affect anyone, but social determinants of health — the factors that influence a person's circumstances in life — can have a negative impact on a person's efforts to overcome addiction.  Poverty, employment status, education level, and systemic racism can make it harder for people to reach and maintain recovery.

Sugar: How sweet it is... or is it?

As more Americans are considered obese, including children, a study examined what effect a voluntary reduction in the sugar content of foods would have on rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and health care costs. But in the absence of such a change, there are ways you can reduce your sugar intake without having to give up sweet treats entirely.

Cardiovascular safety from prostate cancer drugs remains uncertain

Worldwide, over one million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, and half will be given androgen deprivation therapy at some point. Whether certain types of this therapy are safer for the heart than others is an important question that is being studied, but the results from the first such trial were inconclusive and disappointing.

Rising alcohol use among older adults

In recent years alcohol use by older adults has been trending upward, particularly among women. Drinking too much alcohol can have negative consequences on physical and mental health, and age-related changes in the body can place older adults who drink at additional risk.

Easily distracted? Try meditation

Attention control is an essential for time management and productivity, but to stay focused on a task, you need to be able to keep distractions from derailing your progress. Mindfulness meditation can calm a wandering mind, and can be used to train your brain to increase attention, focus, and concentration.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: Can a wearable device reduce stress?

Stress can affect sleep, mood, and appetite, and the long-term effects of chronic stress have been linked to health issues like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and Alzheimer's disease. A wearable device claims that it can reduce stress and build the wearer's resistance to stressful situations — but how does it work, and can any of its claims be proven?

Listening to your hunger cues

We've all had times when we have eaten more than our share of some unhealthy food. We know it's bad for us, but resisting feels impossible. The science of food cravings is complex, but often these urges happen not because we are hungry but because of some other emotion that triggers the brain's appetite signals. It's possible to change these patterns, but it's a challenge.

Does your child need to bathe every day?

Bathing daily is a habit for many people, but does it need to be for children, preteens, and teens? Not necessarily. Of course, it depends on what they have been doing and whether or not they are visibly dirty or stinky, but most don't need a top-to-toe daily scrub.

Can flavonoids help fend off forgetfulness?

Eating a broad variety of fruits and vegetables is a good way to get a sufficient intake of flavonoids, chemicals that contribute to many aspects of health. Now, a study suggests that flavonoid-rich foods may also play a role in protecting memory and thinking as people get older.

Can physical or cognitive activity prevent dementia?

The number of people worldwide with Alzheimer's disease is predicted to climb drastically in the coming decades. Is there anything people can do to protect their cognitive health? New evidence from two studies shows that cognitive and physical activities can make a real difference in delaying the onset of cognitive decline.

Wondering how much your medical care will cost? New rules could help

Even with insurance, the cost of a medical visit or procedure can be a mystery. Pricing varies widely depending on who your insurer is, which health plan you have, and exactly what that covers. Will new rules attempting to bring some transparency to the pricing structures of hospitals and other healthcare facilities help?

Long-lasting healthy changes: Doable and worthwhile

Abundant research shows that healthy lifestyle factors protect people against serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and more. Even small steps toward a healthier lifestyle can make a big difference in our lives––here's practical advice for making healthy changes stick.

The sore throat checklist: What parents need to know

Children get sore throats all the time — and most of the time they are nothing to worry about. But it is important for parents to know the common causes of sore throats, and to be aware that that certain instances are serious and should be seen by a doctor immediately.

A new treatment for obesity

A new medication for the treatment of obesity has been approved by the FDA, and it received significant media attention in the months leading up to its approval. A high-dose injectable hormone, it already existed in a different form as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, but in this form and dosage it has advantages over other available weight-loss medications, as well as its own potential risks.

Remember the flu? Yep, it's that time again

Last winter's flu season was mild, partly due to record high rates of flu vaccination and steps people were already taking to protect themselves from COVID-19. But don't let that fool you — some flu seasons are severe, so it it's wise to get a flu shot and take other precautions that can help you stay healthy this winter.

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