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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.


COVID-19 and the heart: What have we learned?

Updated January 08, 2021

Death rates from COVID-19 have dropped significantly since the start of the pandemic, but people with cardiovascular disease are at much higher risk of having a severe form of it. It’s now clearer why this is so, and how the virus can cause heart damage.

Hormonal therapies for advanced prostate cancer linked to a higher risk of falls and fractures

Published January 07, 2021

Falls rank among the top causes of death and injuries among the elderly, and the risk increases significantly in older people being treated for cancer. Now, investigators are reporting that a newer class of drugs for advanced prostate cancer is associated with a significant increase in fall risk. Called androgen receptor inhibitors, or ARIs, these […]

Sexual health and gender-affirming care

Published January 07, 2021

The lived experience of every transgender and gender diverse person (TDG) is unique, as are their approaches to gender affirmation. Some may choose to affirm their gender only socially, or not at all, while others use a variety of medical and surgical procedures to do so. How do certain choices affect sexual health?

Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy?

Updated April 24, 2021

If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, you may have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Get informed by consulting trusted health sources, and talk with your medical providers about your options.

We’re supposed to make resolutions now?

Published January 05, 2021

After everything that has happened in 2020, making New Year’s resolutions might be too much to expect of many. Setting goals for the coming year seems like too much to ask right now. Is it okay to just give yourself a break this year? Or is there another way of looking at the whole situation?

3 easy ways to eat a healthier diet

Published January 04, 2021

The very best intentions for healthy eating can fail if a new diet is too ambitious or restrictive. Taking small, easy steps toward healthier eating—and taking them one at a time—can help you make lasting changes.

Do pro-inflammatory diets harm our health? And can anti-inflammatory diets help?

Published December 23, 2020

Researchers found that people who ate larger quantities of pro-inflammatory foods had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Understanding the link between diet and inflammation may help identify specific dietary patterns and foods than can diminish chronic inflammation and improve health.

The health effects of too much gaming

Published December 22, 2020

While playing video games can be a fun pastime, and there are some potential benefits, there are health risks associated with too much gaming. They include repetitive stress injuries, vision problems, sleep deprivation, depression, and possibly addiction to playing.

Making the most of physical activity apps

Published December 21, 2020

Most people know exercise is good for their health, but only about half of Americans meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Making exercising more fun helps keep people interested, and research has demonstrated that there is a relationship between using activity apps and increased engagement in exercise.

Good news: Deaths due to HIV are way down

Published December 18, 2020

A new study cites a remarkable decline in deaths due to HIV infection, and dramatically fewer new cases of HIV infection in the US over the past decade. But there is still a long way to go before declaring victory over HIV/AIDS.

New high-resolution imaging scans approved for use in prostate cancer

Published December 17, 2020

Imagine trying to find a single match from a book of matches in a large room. Not an easy task, right? But if the lights were dimmed and the match was lit, then its location would be immediately apparent. This is the basic idea behind PSMA imaging, a newly approved method for detecting prostate cancer […]

Choosing joy during difficult times

Published December 17, 2020

As this year’s challenges and stressors have piled up, many people have found it increasingly difficult to find any joy in their lives. A good portion of our happiness is related to our own attitudes and actions, and the actions of others can show us how to find contentment, happiness — even joy— in the most difficult of times.

Executive function in children: Why it matters and how to help

Published December 16, 2020

Although executive function skills begin to develop in the first year of life, the time at which children reach these milestones varies. Some children experience challenges or delays related to their executive function skills, but these skills can be improved through evidence-based interventions.

Holiday jangle: Tricky conversations around COVID safety with family and friends

Published December 15, 2020

Many of us are facing new and challenging conversations with family and friends about travel, gatherings, and COVID safety precautions over the holidays and beyond. Here’s how to successfully communicate your own needs while still showing loved ones that you care about them.

Shingles: What triggers this painful, burning rash?

Published December 14, 2020

If you have chickenpox as a child, the virus stays in your body, and can emerge later in life as a painful, burning rash called shingles. It’s not fully understood what triggers a resurgence of the virus, but factors that weaken the immune system increase the risk of developing shingles, and it is more common in people over age 60.

Magnets, sound, and batteries: Choosing safe toys

Published December 11, 2020

When choosing gifts for the children in your life this year, there are toy you should consider — creativity, imagination, and movement should be encouraged — and toys you should try to avoid due to safety concerns or for other reasons.

Grandparents as scribes of the pandemic

Published December 11, 2020

Since children’s memories of the pandemic are likely to fade, or be forgotten entirely, grandparents have the opportunity to offer them a legacy of sorts by making the effort to record their own personal thoughts about their experiences during this time.

Why are mRNA vaccines so exciting?

Published December 10, 2020

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that could soon be available to treat COVID-19 are mRNA vaccines, which have never before been approved to treat any disease. How do these differ from other types of vaccines, and how were they developed?

Will eating more chilis help you live longer?

Published December 10, 2020

A new report suggests eating chili peppers regularly could lower the risk of dying of cancer or cardiovascular disease. One theory attributes such health benefits to capsaicin, an antioxidant that brings the heat. But just how strong are these findings?

Do thunderstorms worsen asthma and COPD symptoms?

Published December 09, 2020

Weather affects respiratory function, but many of its effects remain unclear. Researchers analyzed Medicare claims to determine whether storms led to an increase in emergency room visits related to asthma and COPD.

Stiff and achy in the mornings? How to fix that

Published December 08, 2020

Often, feeling stiff and a little achy when you wake or during the day is related to periods of inactivity, perhaps while sleeping or parked in front of a computer. To counteract this, plan frequent movement breaks and try these stretches focusing on stiff or achy areas.

How to give yourself — and others — a break

Updated December 11, 2020

Being kind to ourselves and to other people is a simple way to make life smoother, but it’s often difficult to do this consistently. The added stress of the pandemic has made navigating the stresses of life even more of a challenge, but making effort to practice self-compassion can help control anxiety.

21 spices for healthy holiday foods

Published December 04, 2020

The holiday season is probably the hardest time of year to resist rich, indulgent foods, but too many salty, fatty, sugary choices can harm your health. Instead, try adding natural flavor to holiday foods with herbs and spices, many of which contain substances that have a beneficial effect on health.

Gender fluidity: What it means and why support matters

Published December 03, 2020

Gender fluidity refers to changes over time in gender identity and gender expression. For many people, gender identity and expression develop early and stay the same; for others, one or both may change. Understanding and supporting young people exploring gender is important to their emotional and physical well-being.