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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.


Anti-inflammatory food superstars for every season

Published November 30, 2021
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

Published November 29, 2021
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?

Published November 24, 2021
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?

Published November 23, 2021

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

Published November 22, 2021
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.

Time to stock up on zinc?

Published November 19, 2021
As winter approaches, it’s time to contend with rising rates of cold and flu. An analysis of studies suggests that over-the-counter zinc supplements may be one way to make cold and flu season a bit easier. But how strong is the evidence and what else could help?

Recent study shows more complications with alternative prostate biopsy method

Published November 18, 2021
In the United States, screening tests for prostate cancer are mostly done as biopsies through the rectum, but this procedure comes with a risk of infection. Technical advances are making it possible for doctors to perform a different kind of biopsy procedure in their offices, and a recent study compared the two types.

Walnuts: A worthy addition to your daily diet?

Updated November 19, 2021

Research has found that people who eat nuts regularly are less likely to have heart disease. While all varieties of nuts are full of important nutrients, a two-year randomized trial shows a daily dose of walnuts lowered levels of harmful blood lipids that affect cardiovascular health –– and without adding extra pounds.

What it takes to achieve world-changing scientific breakthroughs

Published November 16, 2021

In science, true breakthroughs are rare. Some are the result of fortunate accidents, while others come from scientists with the will to pursue a dream despite challenges and obstacles. And when such breakthroughs do happen –– think of penicillin or COVID vaccines –– the whole world benefits from them.


Do weighted blankets help with insomnia?

Published November 15, 2021

Insomnia affects approximately 10% of adults in the United States, and it is common with mental illness. Insomnia is unlikely to get better on its own if not actively treated. Many people are interested in treatment options that do not involve prescription medications, and a study from Sweden investigated the effectiveness of a weighted blanket on insomnia symptoms for people with insomnia and mental health problems.

Careful! Health news headlines can be deceiving

Published November 12, 2021

Eye-catching media headlines are intended to snag our attention and can influence whether we decide to read, click on, or tune into a story. When it comes health and medicine, though, it’s best to be careful: headlines may be written in a way that is misleading, confusing, or deceptive, so understanding the thinking behind them and focusing on the facts is important.

Why is topical vitamin C important for skin health?

Published November 10, 2021

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it fights harmful toxins that come in contact with your skin either externally or from inside the body. Products containing vitamin C that are applied to the skin may help slow early skin aging, prevent sun damage, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, spots, and acne.

Preventing preeclampsia may be as simple as taking an aspirin

Published November 9, 2021

Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that can cause serious health issues. While it can happen during any pregnancy, certain risk factors increase its likelihood. Now, a statement from the US Preventive Services Task Force supported by a review of research recommends that doctors prescribe a low-dose daily aspirin for those at risk.

Caring for an aging parent? Tips for enjoying holiday meals

Published November 8, 2021

When you are a caregiver for an aging parent, the joy of gathering for holiday meals can be overshadowed by stress. Planning in advance for things like the day’s schedule, timing of the meal, what food your parent can or will eat, and making sure medications are taken will help children and parents enjoy the meal with as little stress as possible.

A conversation about reducing the harms of social media

Published November 5, 2021
Social media can connect people across the globe, with a potential audience of millions of users. But no matter how many likes a post gets, it can feel like it’s not enough, opening users — particularly young people — to potential mental health issues, and raising the question of whether the government should impose regulations on social media companies.

Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 to 11?

Published November 3, 2021

While the FDA has authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and the CDC recommends it, parents are still likely to have questions about the vaccine and how COVID-19 affects younger children.

Menopause and memory: Know the facts

Published November 3, 2021
The number of people in the US with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to climb drastically over the coming decades, and two-thirds of those people will be women. Understanding factors that happen earlier in life, and how they impact the brain later, is critical for developing strategies to prevent this public health crisis. Studies are examining the ways menopause affects the brain and how to maintain memory.

Preparing for the holidays? Don’t forget rapid tests for COVID-19

Published November 2, 2021
As the holiday season approaches again, the desire to gather is tempered by lingering concerns about COVID-19. Rapid COVID-19 tests could provide some reassurance if testing is done as guests arrive at a host’s home, though it’s important to be aware of the limitations of this approach, including cost, availability, reliability, and how results are obtained.

How to get your child to put away toys

Published November 1, 2021
If you frequently find yourself tripping over your child’s toys, then you know the challenges of getting younger children to clean up. Taking a calm, rational approach and issuing clear and specific instructions will enhance your chances of success.

Is a common pain reliever safe during pregnancy?

Published October 29, 2021
A recent statement from a group of doctors and scientists raised concerns around taking acetaminophen during pregnancy, but research backing this is based on observational studies and animal studies, so that no firm conclusions can be drawn from it. Here's what to consider if you're pregnant.

Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Published October 28, 2021

While considered less harmful than smoking tobacco, vaping is not risk-free, so the FDA’s recent announcement authorizing sales of new vaping products was surprising. Some research suggests e-cigarettes may help some people quit or cut back on smoking, but there are many concerns about their known and potential health risks — especially for children and teens.

Gastroparesis: A slow-emptying stomach can cause nausea and vomiting

Published October 27, 2021
Gastroparesis is a condition that causes delay in the emptying of food from the stomach. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and can affect nutrition and quality of life. Treatment may involve medication or a procedure, but a correct diagnosis is necessary first.

Can blue light-blocking glasses improve your sleep?

Published October 26, 2021
Exposure to blue light during the daytime is desirable: it helps synchronize the body’s circadian clock and helps people stay alert. But stimulation from certain wavelengths of blue light in the hours leading up to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Glasses that block stimulating blue light, whether prescription or not, are being touted as helping with sleep, but the evidence is questionable.

Skills children need to succeed in life — and getting youngsters started

Published October 25, 2021
All parents want their children to be happy and able to successfully navigate life’s challenges. Five core skills form a great foundation and the early childhood window is particularly important for developing them. Parents can help their children learn and strengthen these skills in the course of everyday activities.

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