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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.

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Moving to wellness while practicing body neutrality

Published April 14, 2022

It can be helpful to think of health as a spectrum, with illness at one end and wellness at the other. Someone who is in the neutral (middle) position can move to the wellness side by adopting and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits — and that has little to do with a person’s shape or size.

Primary progressive aphasia involves many losses: Here's what you need to know

Published April 13, 2022

When thinking about progressive brain disorders that cause dementia, you’d probably think of memory problems. But sometimes language problems, also known as aphasia, are the first symptom. There are different variants of aphasia depending on what aspect of language is disrupted, and they are caused by different diseases.

Healthy oils at home and when eating out

Published April 12, 2022

When thinking about nutrition, some people think that all fats are bad, but this is not true. Fats are important to a healthy eating plan; the important thing is knowing the right kinds to use, and this is easier when preparing food at home than when eating in restaurants.

Enjoy avocados? Eating one a week may lower heart disease risk

Published April 11, 2022

Avocados are abundant in healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients that boost heart health. A long-term study has found that people who eat avocado regularly have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes.

When is a drug rash more than just a rash?

Published April 7, 2022

Rashes are a common side effect of many medications, and while they can be annoying, they typically run their course over a week or two. But not all drug rashes are mild — and some can even be deadly. How can you tell a serious rash from one that is just a nuisance?

New treatment approved for late-stage prostate cancer

Published April 7, 2022

The FDA has approved a new medication therapy for advanced prostate cancer that is spreading in the body. The new treatment can seek out and destroy tumors that are still too small to be found via conventional medical imaging. Results of a clinical trial showed that this new drug was effective at delaying cancer progression.

Poor housing harms health in American Indian and Alaska Native communities

Published April 6, 2022

American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities face a housing crisis that pleads for national housing reforms. Poor housing conditions have led to high rates of health problems and disability, underscoring the need for adequate, affordable housing designed for people of all ages and abilities.

Constantly clearing your throat? Here’s what to try

Published April 5, 2022

When you have a cold, it’s normal to feel mucus sitting at the back of your throat, and to have the urge to clear it. Typically this sensation lasts just a few days, but what happens if it lingers for weeks or months?

Snooze more, eat less? Sleep deprivation may hamper weight control

Published April 4, 2022

It’s now understood that many factors influence a person’s ability to lose weight —not just burning more calories than are taken in. A new study supports the idea that people using sleep hygiene tips to get sufficient sleep consume fewer calories than people who are sleep-deprived.

Sexual fluidity and the diversity of sexual orientation

Published March 31, 2022

It’s a common misconception that sexual orientation develops at an early age and remains stable throughout a person’s life. Yet differing forms of sexual fluidity are a common thread in many lives and understanding changes in attraction, identity, and behavior underpinning this can help dispel misconceptions and reduce stigma.

Screening at home for memory loss: Should you try it?

Published March 30, 2022

The time pressures of primary care doctors make it unlikely that they will be able to give their patients tests of cognitive function. So how will the growing numbers of people at risk for Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia be identified? A self-administered test is now available.

Should you be tested for inflammation?

Published March 29, 2022

Our understanding of how chronic inflammation can impair health has expanded dramatically in recent years, causing some people to wonder if there is a test to identify it, and if they should have it. There are several tests that can detect inflammation, and they are useful in certain situations, but not universally.

Overeating? Mindfulness exercises may help

Published March 28, 2022

It’s possible to overeat and not even realize it until you’ve finished a meal and doing so does not mean you have an eating problem or disorder. Mindfulness exercises can help you slow down and enjoy eating, making it easier to avoid overeating.

Comparing traditional and robotic-assisted surgery for prostate cancer

Published March 25, 2022

Today, most surgeries to remove the prostate gland in men with prostate cancer are performed with robotic assistance, which ostensibly offers quality-of-life advantages. But how does this method compare with traditional open surgery? A recent study provides some clarity.

Can vitamin D supplements prevent autoimmune disease?

Published March 24, 2022

Claims that vitamin D supplements are beneficial to health are common, but many of these supposed benefits remain unproven. A recent study looked at data from over 25,000 people in an attempt to determine if taking vitamin D regularly might help prevent autoimmune disease.

 

The plant milk shake-up: Pea and pistachio join oat and almond

Published March 23, 2022

Pea, potato, and pistachio milk? Supermarkets now sell multiple kinds of plant-based milks made from nuts, beans, grains, vegetables, or fruit. Before trying these, some people might like to know more about nutritional benefits and any other reasons to choose or avoid them.

Sex, drugs, and depression: What your doctor needs to know

Published March 22, 2022

For many people, a visit to the doctor causes anxiety, and discussing sensitive subjects like sexual problems, substance use, or mental health issues is even more likely to induce discomfort. But these discussions can be less anxiety-inducing and more productive if people know what to expect.

Paths to parenting: Choosing single parenthood through pregnancy

Published March 21, 2022

Choosing to become pregnant and parent without a partner is increasingly common and more widely accepted than in the past, but deciding to pursue this path can be lonely. Additionally, there are important questions about financial security and the support of family and friends that a prospective single parent needs to consider.

Brain fog: Memory and attention after COVID-19

Published March 17, 2022

Brain fog, meaning slow or sluggish thinking, can occur under many different circumstances. In many cases, it is temporary and gets better on its own. Many people who have recovered from COVID-19 report some degree of brain fog and a study suggests even those with milder cases may experience problems with memory and attention.

Why all the buzz about inflammation — and just how bad is it?

Published March 16, 2022

Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury, allergy, or infection, a reaction that attempts to restore the health of the affected area. But that’s only part of the story, because there are two types of inflammation, and it’s important to know the difference—and what is and isn’t true about all types.

"Vitamin M" — is melatonin the cure for your sleep problems?

Published March 15, 2022

The CDC estimates that 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. For some, melatonin is believed to be a safe treatment option because it is a hormone produced by our bodies. But evidence of its effectiveness is lacking, and inconsistent quality of product is a concern.

The care that transgender youth need and deserve

Published March 14, 2022

Some people feel very strongly that their gender is not the one they were assigned at birth. When families, health care providers, and others ignore or deny this, or try to stop the person from living as the gender they feel is right for them, it’s not only unkind but dangerous.

Warming up to the cold: Staying active in any weather

Published March 10, 2022

It’s difficult to get motivated to be active outside during cold-weather months, but it’s important to your health and can help you meet any fitness goals you’re trying to reach. There are ways to get outside and moving in cold temperatures.

Struggling to sleep? Your heart may pay the price

Published March 9, 2022

Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep is linked to a host of health problems, including a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Now, a recent study on people in midlife finds that having a combination of sleep problems may nearly triple a person’s risk of heart disease.

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