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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.


Close relationships with neighbors influence cardiovascular health in Black adults

Published March 3, 2022

A study of Black adults living in the Atlanta area suggests that feeling rooted in community and socializing with neighbors may strongly contribute to better cardiovascular health, which might lower risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Can breastfeeding really prevent pregnancy?

Published March 2, 2022

New parents might want to wait awhile before considering having another child, and breastfeeding prevents ovulation, so some people use it as a natural birth control method during the early months of an infant's life. However, it's effective only if a mother is breastfeeding frequently and an infant is receiving only breast milk as food.

Olive oil: Can it lower your risk of dying early?

Published March 1, 2022

The benefits of olive oil to help reduce the risk of heart disease are well-known, but a recent study showed that people who consumed the highest amount of olive oil daily had a lower overall risk of dying early, as well as lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

Taking an aging parent to the doctor? 10 helpful tips

Published February 28, 2022

When you take an aging parent to a medical appointment, you wind up playing many roles. Millions of people in the US are caring for family members and are learning as they go along, so they can benefit from tips to keep them on track before, during, and after the appointment.

Resilience: 5 ways to help children and teens learn it

Published February 24, 2022

The past two years have been hard and children and teens have had to deal with particularly challenging circumstances. Resilience—the ability to overcome hardship and stress—is one of the most important skills parents can teach their children.

Could cataract surgery protect against dementia?

Published February 23, 2022

Having surgery to remove cataracts restores blurred or distorted vision, helping to improve quality of life for older adults. Now, a new study makes a strong case that removing cataracts may reduce a person's risk of developing dementia.

Another natural remedy for constipation?

Published February 22, 2022

Constipation can describe many types of problems with moving your bowels. It becomes chronic when it lasts for weeks or months. Many people are interested in natural remedies for constipation, and one of the most common is adding fiber to your diet. A new study compared three natural sources of fiber, with encouraging results.

Even low-level air pollution may harm health

Published February 21, 2022

The burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change, and pollution from this burning has been linked to millions of premature deaths worldwide. And, according to a new report, even low levels of air pollution may harm our health although we can take steps to limit exposure.

Does the sex of your surgeon matter? A new study says yes

Published February 17, 2022

If you need surgery, does the sex of the surgeon matter? A study reviewed procedures done in Canada over a 12-year period involving more than a million adults, and found that in general, people operated on by female surgeons were less likely to experience complications. But why?



Can we prevent depression in older adults by treating insomnia?

Published February 16, 2022

Depression is common among older adults, and insomnia doubles the risk of major depressive disorder. There is increasing evidence that treating insomnia in older people who have both insomnia and major depression has the potential to improve both their sleep and their mood.

Health disparities and headache treatment

Published February 15, 2022
Migraines are a common neurologic condition, but it's estimated that in the US only about a quarter of adults with migraine are able to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Part of the reason for this is likely due to disparities in health care, and researchers found evidence of disparities related to race, socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, and geography.

Optimism, heart health, and longevity: Unraveling the link for Black Americans

Published February 14, 2022
Recent findings from the largest and longest-running study of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Black Americans suggest that a positive outlook can lead to longer life. But while optimism may boost heart health and overall health, the full picture is more complicated.

Take the lead on lead poisoning

Published February 10, 2022
The use of lead in consumer products was banned in the United States in 1978, but lead exposure is still a serious problem today, especially for young children. This led the CDC to lower the blood lead reference value, which is used to identify those at highest risk. When should children be tested for lead exposure, and what should parents do if there is lead in their home?

New guidance on return to youth sports and activity after COVID-19

Published February 9, 2022
Early in the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that any child who tested positive for COVID-19 have an in-person evaluation with their pediatrician before returning to sports, but recently the AAP updated its guidance with recommendations based on the severity of a child's illness.

Scoring highly on Alternative Healthy Eating Index lowers risk for many illnesses

Published February 8, 2022
Most of us know a healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease but may not know it's possible to choose a combination of foods that help lower risks for many illnesses. An index created by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health grades food choices and it's easy to incorporate components of this into daily eating habits.

Is a mobile app as good as a therapist?

Published February 7, 2022

Due to the lengthy wait for an appointment with a therapist, many people have turned to the numerous mental health apps available on smartphones. Research did not find convincing evidence that use of any such app resulted in significant improvement in symptoms, but some may be useful as a complement to therapy.

Paths to parenthood: Receiving an embryo donation

Published February 3, 2022
Paths to parenthood vary and people thinking about a pregnancy achieved with donated embryos or with donated eggs or sperm might also be considering adoption. Here are some key questions and issues to consider when thinking about these decisions.

Can ALS be caused by traumatic brain injury?

Published February 2, 2022

Though decades of research have suggested risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a specific cause remains unknown. New research studied professional football players and found that they had a much higher risk of developing ALS than men in the general population, though the study was only observational.

The rising tide of dementia and the need for nondrug therapies

Published February 1, 2022
As the number of people living with dementia continues to increase, the hope that a medication will be able to slow the progression of the disease has not yet been successful. Meanwhile, research has also progressed in nonpharmacological treatments that can help people with memory issues and increase their comfort, potentially helping their families as well.

Are certain fruits healthier than others?

Published January 31, 2022

Most people have heard the nutritional recommendation to eat five servings of fruit per day. But are some fruits better for you than others? Is it okay to eat dried or frozen fruit, or to drink fruit juice? Does it have to be organic?

Treatment with abiraterone significantly improves survival in advanced prostate cancer

Published January 28, 2022
Currently, the medication abiraterone is approved for treatment of men with prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland and nearby lymph nodes. But a study found that men who received the drug at earlier stages (before the cancer had spread) in combination with another type of treatment were more likely to live longer than those who received only the control treatment.

Exercise, metabolism, and weight: New research from The Biggest Loser

Published January 27, 2022

Studies of contestants from the TV show The Biggest Loser found that due to changes in metabolism, people who have lost large amounts of weight have to follow an extremely low-calorie diet in order to maintain the weight loss. Subsequent research indicates that these metabolic changes are related to calorie restriction while weight is being lost, but later become a function of sustained physical activity.

When the doctor becomes the patient: A transformative experience

Published January 26, 2022

A doctor's serious health threat prompts reflection on the power of spirituality, the value of mindfulness practice, and acknowledgment of mortality as a motivator to reassess one's priorities.

5 skills teens need in life — and how to encourage them

Published January 25, 2022

All parents want their children to be happy and able to successfully navigate life's challenges. Five core skills form a great foundation, and while parents can and should support young children in building these skills, encouraging teens to reinforce and refine their skills is important.

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