Harvard Health Blog

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


Embryo donation: One possible path after IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has helped countless people who were unable to conceive to have children. Frequently, the process results in additional embryos remaining, eventually leading to the question of what to do with them. Embryo donation is one of several options and deciding which path to pursue may not be easy.

How to stay strong and coordinated as you age

Many physical abilities decline with age, along with changes that occur in coordinating the movements of the body. One of the most significant causes of this decline is reduced physical activity. In fact, as people age it becomes even more important to exercise regularly, and regular activity can help improve strength and coordination.

Acupuncture relieves prostatitis symptoms in study

Prostatitis is a common inflammatory condition, but most cases have no obvious cause. Treatments are varied and include anti-inflammatory painkillers and alpha blockers, but a clinical trial showed that acupuncture has the potential to reduce symptoms of prostatitis without the side effects that drugs can cause.

Skin in the game: Common skin problems and solutions for men

Dry skin and athlete's foot affect many men. There are several treatment options for both conditions, and steps you can take to prevent them from occurring or returning.

Anti-inflammatory food superstars for every season

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

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?

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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?

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.

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