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

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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 […]

Explosion in diabetes isn’t inevitable

Published October 29, 2010

You can fight diabetes, one step at a time. An alarming new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three Americans could have diabetes by the year 2050. The number is “just” one in ten now, and its price tag of nearly $200 billion per year is already straining […]

Halloween candy

Published October 29, 2010

Trick or treat? It’s really a rhetorical question. They just want the Halloween candy. Millions of American children will get billions of sugar- and fat-laden treats on Sunday night in a tradition that has its roots in pagan and Christian rituals. It’s fun. The kids are outside, walking. And, gosh, they’re cute in their princess and pirate costumes. But nutritionally and dentally speaking, the […]

This week from HHP: The science of fright

Published October 28, 2010

Crisp autumn weather, flickering jack-o-lanterns, costumed children trick-or-treating—and a good fright or two—make for a great Halloween. What is it about getting scared by a haunted house, a roller coaster, or a bungee jump that some people find exhilarating and others find downright frightening? It could be how you are wired, writes Dr. Robert Shmerling […]

Painkillers and drug addiction: An ongoing dilemma

Published October 27, 2010

On October 16, 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren, a renowned surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, removed a tumor from a printer named Gilbert Abbott. The operation was noteworthy for one reason: Abbott did not scream out in pain, as virtually every surgical patient did in those days. The age of anesthesia was born. A Boston […]

Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster

Published October 19, 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 […]

Medical journals: Stop being so passive

Published October 14, 2010

Reading medical journals is the main occupational hazard I face as editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. This task is like parachuting into a desert at high noon—I drop into a barren, colorless landscape and then struggle across dry, soporific terrain. The content isn’t to blame; it is usually interesting, and is sometimes even compelling. […]

Might a PSA test at age 60 simplify decision-making about screening?

Published October 8, 2010

A Swedish study suggests that a single PSA measurement at age 60 can predict the likelihood that a man will die of prostate cancer by age 85, and that at least half of men no longer need to be screened after age 60. But the study has significant limitations, leaving many experts skeptical.

Stem cell progress: Turning skin cells into heart cells

Published October 6, 2010

Embryonic stem cell research continues to be a political and legal hot potato that stirs up a lot of emotion and argument. In the meantime, researchers are making some remarkable progress using an alternative stem cell approach called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs (sometimes that gets  shortened to iPS). An induced pluripotent stem cell is an adult cell, often a skin cell, […]

Americans lag on exercise

Published October 6, 2010

Only one in six Americans meet recommended targets for physical activity. If you aren’t one of them, identifying your barriers to exercise can help.

Kiss-kiss CPR: The mouth-to-mouth part may not be needed

Published October 5, 2010

The advice to “keep it simple, stupid”—kiss, kiss—seems to apply to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). But with CPR, kiss-kiss means no mouth-to-mouth contact. A study published in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) adds to the evidence that the old way of doing CPR—alternating chest compressions with blows into the mouth—is needlessly complicated in most cases (there are exceptions, which we will get into below). Instead, this study and others (The New England […]

Are drugs lurking in your dietary supplements?

Published October 4, 2010

Another day, another safety alert from the FDA that a so-called dietary supplement or natural herbal remedy actually contains a drug. That’s the eighth such warning in the last three months (see FDA warnings). The latest one warns that products marketed as “natural testosterone boosters” or sex enhancers, including Arom-X, 4-AD, Decavol, and Reversitol, contain […]

1 in 10 Americans Depressed

Published October 2, 2010

In time for National Depression Screening Day (October 7, 2010) and Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9, 2010), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published survey data on depressed mood in the United States. The report summarizes responses to a standardized questionnaire administered in 2006 and 2008. The researchers asked 235,067 adults about […]

Experimental drug seems safe, effective against prostate cancer

Published September 29, 2010

A study published in the journal Lancet found that the experimental drug MDV3100 is both safe and effective for prostate cancer patients with advanced disease that no longer responds to hormone therapy.

Statins may stop prostate cancer’s return

Published September 29, 2010

A 2010 study finds that statins, a class of drugs taken to lower cholesterol, may prevent prostate cancer from recurring after surgery.

Naps for young doctors

Published September 29, 2010

Doctors-in-training should be encouraged to do some on-the-job napping, according to the organization that sets the standards for residency programs around the country. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) issued new standards yesterday that came out in favor of a well-timed snooze. The guidelines, which are scheduled to go into effect next year, say this: Programs must encourage residents to use alertness […]

Avandia: Fishing with the wrong bait?

Published September 24, 2010

The news yesterday that FDA is putting tighter restrictions on Avandia (rosiglitazone), the diabetes drugs, was important but not surprising. In July, an advisory panel to the agency took a rather dim view of the drug.  Ten of the 32 votes were for increased warnings and tighter restrictions, and 12 were for pulling the drug off the market completely (which is what European regulators decided to […]

Strong warning on diabetes drug Avandia

Published September 23, 2010

Rosiglitazone (Avandia) should be used only by people who can’t control their diabetes other ways, the FDA said today. Across the Atlantic, the European Medicines Agency ordered rosiglitazone off the market until its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, can supply “convincing data” that there exists a group of people with diabetes for whom the blood-sugar-lowering benefit of taking rosiglitazone […]

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