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.

Articles

Football and concussions: Old school, new school, and a conversation with Jerry Kramer

Published February 5, 2011

Tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m., tens of millions of television sets will be turned on as Americans sit down and participate in that unofficial national holiday called “watching the Super Bowl.” For many, it’s an excuse to see funny ads and the half-time show and to eat (how many of those spanking new Dietary Guidelines will be broken?), drink, and socialize. But […]

Use your brain to avoid weight gain—by fighting portion inflation

Published February 2, 2011

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend portion control as a way to maintain or lose weight. The inflation of portion sizes makes that difficult. But you can use your brain to help you control portions and eat less.

New dietary guidelines offer little new guidance

Published February 1, 2011

The latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans focuses on weight and lowers the recommended salt intake for African Americans, people with diabetes, and others. Beyond that, the guidelines don’t offer much that is new. And what’s in there is often spoiled by vague language.

Feeling S.A.D.? Lighten up if it’s seasonal affective disorder

Published January 26, 2011

This picture shows the view from my office window in Boston: dull, dreary, and depressing — at least on overcast days like today. Lack of light is one of the reasons that people feel mentally foggy. One of the bloggers I follow, Rachel Zimmerman of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, recently wrote that she’s been drinking three […]

End-of-life planning makes it easier to say goodbye

Published January 22, 2011

Saying goodbye as the end of life approaches can be difficult, even for someone like writer Joyce Carol Oates. Her recent essay in The New Yorker about the impending death of her husband highlights the need for each of us to think about death and dying — and discuss them with loved ones — long before they become a likelihood.

FDA approves new treatment for head lice

Published January 19, 2011

A new FDA approved treatment for head lice, called Natroba, could be a useful addition to the anti-lice armamentarium, since some head lice have become resistant to the active ingredients in current over-the-counter anti-lice products.

The Tucson shooting and mental illness

Published January 12, 2011

When reports arrived that accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner had opened fire in Tucson, Arizona on January 7, journalistic first responders linked the incident to the fierceness of political rhetoric in the United States. Upon reflection, some of the discussion has turned to questions about mental illness, guns, and violence. And plenty of reflection is […]

“Just in case” heart tests can do more harm than good

Published January 7, 2011

Here’s an important equation that all of us—doctors included—should know about health care, but don’t: More ≠ Better “More does not equal Better” applies to diagnostic procedures, screening tests meant to identify problems before they appear, medications, dietary supplements, and just about every aspect of medicine. That scenario is spelled out in alarming detail in […]

Good investigative reporting may finally debunk the myth that vaccines cause autism

Published January 6, 2011

For years now, both individual researchers and respected scientific organizations such as the Institute of Medicine have tried to refute a persistent myth — that childhood vaccines cause autism. The myth began after a small study published in 1998 in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues at Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine […]

Our newest book: Saying Goodbye

Published January 4, 2011

I’m excited to introduce one of Harvard Health Publishing’ newest books, Saying Goodbye: How Families Can Find Renewal Through Loss. The book, by psychologists Barbara Okun and Joseph Nowinski, explores the concept of “new grief” — the way that people now grieve when medical science prolongs lives for weeks, months, or even years. A recent […]

Why we do what we do: good health information can save lives

Published December 28, 2010

My colleagues at Harvard Health Publishing and I have a mission: to provide accurate, reliable information that will help readers live healthier lives. We work hard to fulfill that mission, and the feedback we get from folks who read our newsletters, Special Health Reports, books, and online health information indicates we are on the right […]

Echinacea for colds

Published December 20, 2010

Does echinacea, the popular natural cold remedy, really work? It depends on what you mean by “work.” Results reported in today’s Annals of Internal Medicine found that echinacea may reduce the length of a weeklong cold by 7 to 10 hours and make symptoms a little less onerous. That can’t be characterized as a major effect, so many people may figure that […]

The safety of painkillers

Published December 20, 2010

Perhaps as many as one in every 5 American adults will get a prescription for a painkiller this year, and many more will buy over-the-counter medicines without a prescription. These drugs can do wonders—getting rid of pain can seem like a miracle—but sometimes there’s a high price to be paid. Remember the heavily marketed COX-2 inhibitors? Rofecoxib, sold as Vioxx, […]

A Chia Pet for diabetes?

Published December 17, 2010

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified […]

Decline in stroke deaths reinforces importance of preventing “brain attack”

Published December 10, 2010

Stroke killed 2,000 fewer Americans in 2008 (the last year with complete numbers) than it did in 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday in its latest annual Deaths report. That dropped stroke from the third leading cause of death in the United States to the fourth. Good news? Yes and […]

New insights into treatment-resistant depression

Published December 9, 2010

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.  […]

Vitamin D recommendations

Published November 30, 2010

Vitamin D has been talked about as the vitamin — the one that might help fend off everything from cancer to heart disease to autoimmune disorders, if only we were to get enough of it. “Whoa!” is the message from a committee of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to update recommendations for vitamin D (and for calcium). […]

Laugh and be thankful—it’s good for the heart

Published November 24, 2010

One of the things I like most about Thanksgiving is the laughter around the dinner table. The food is great, make no mistake. But it’s the sounds of happiness—the high peal, the good-natured guffaw, the snort-and-shaking-shoulders, and the deep belly laugh—that really make me give thanks. Laughter isn’t just a way to stay connected with […]

More on Brain Injury in the NFL

Published November 24, 2010

If you watch football on Thanksgiving, keep the players’ brain health in mind. Alan Schwarz of the NY Times has been a dogged defensive end, in hot pursuit of this story. Read his latest contribution here. He points out that the National Football League (NFL) has been slow to assess penalties on players who take violent […]

This week from HHP: Health apps, office noise, and hemorrhoid cream for the eyes?

Published November 16, 2010

As usual, Harvard Health Publishing’ writers and editors have been busy covering a range of health topics. Here is a small sampling. To read more, visit us at www.health.harvard.edu. Health apps. Smart phones like the iPhone and Android aren’t just phones. They are also pocket-sized computers capable of running sophisticated applications, or apps. Hundreds of […]

Using the relaxation response to reduce stress

Published November 10, 2010

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified […]

Screening for lung cancer with CT scans

Published November 5, 2010

Lung cancer is usually discovered late when it’s difficult to treat and has often spread outside the lung. A reliable screening test to find it at an earlier, more treatable stage would be a legitimate breakthrough—and could potentially save thousands of lives. About 160,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer, which is more than who die from breast, prostate, and […]

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