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.


Harvard Health Ad Watch: Can an arthritis drug help you become a morning person?

Published February 2, 2021

An ad for an arthritis medication seems to suggest that taking it will alleviate or even eliminate morning stiffness, allowing you to hop out of bed. Like most drug ads, this one has unspoken messages and glosses over questions about side effects and cost.

3 easy ways to get active — right now

Published February 1, 2021

Thinking about exercising is great, but just jumping in is often the best way to blast past mental or emotional barriers. You don’t need a complex workout program; start small and focus on making activity a daily habit. Here are easy ways to add activity to your day.

How does sleep affect your heart rate?

Published January 29, 2021

During waking hours you may feel your heart rate fluctuating, and activity or intense emotions can cause it to spike. But what happens to your heart rate when you sleep? It varies then too, depending on the phase of sleep you are in.

Are early detection and treatment always best?

Published January 28, 2021

The culture of American medicine has long believed and supported the idea that more early detection and treatment is best. But some testing is costly, invasive and carries needless risks, and some conditions go away on their own. Early detection and treatment can be lifesaving — just not for every health issue.

Shingles of the eye can cause lasting vision impairment

Published January 27, 2021

There are about one million cases of shingles in the US each year, and up to 20% of those involve nerves in the head, where the infection can affect various parts of the eye. If a case of shingles involves the upper face, forehead, or scalp, it is important to see an ophthalmologist promptly, because complications can lead to eye damage and possible vision impairment.

New dietary guidelines: Any changes for infants, children, and teens?

Published January 26, 2021

The US Department of Agriculture has published its periodically updated dietary guidelines, and for the first time advice for babies and toddlers is included. It’s never too early to start instilling good eating habits in kids, and awareness of what children should and shouldn’t eat is one way parents can get their kids on the right track.

3 simple strategies for stress relief

Published January 25, 2021

As we wade through our daily lives, stress is almost impossible to avoid –– particularly these days. Instead of enduring stress and letting it engulf you, try one or more of these three easy strategies to relieve it.

Need surgery? Should you avoid your surgeon’s birthday?

Published January 22, 2021

Researchers have examined many factors that can influence the outcome of surgery — both obvious and not-so-obvious ones. A recent study asked whether having surgery on the surgeon’s birthday had any effect on how patients fared.

How not to lose money because of Alzheimer’s disease

Published January 21, 2021

Researchers found that people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder are more likely to miss paying a bill prior to being diagnosed, but such people face more significant related issues: poor financial decision-making and falling victim to financial scams.

Do hair dyes increase cancer risk?

Published January 20, 2021

Many studies have explored the relationship between hair dye use and risk of cancer or cancer-related death, with conflicting findings. In a recent study, researchers analyzed survey data from over 117,000 women collected over several decades regarding hair dye use and overall cancer risk.

More intensive treatment of DCIS reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer

Updated January 21, 2021

With increased rates of diagnosis of very early breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ, there has been controversy about treatment. A recent study found that having DCIS was likely to lead to invasive breast cancer later, and also that women who chose more intensive treatment early were less likely to have invasive breast cancer.

Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

Published January 15, 2021

During adolescence, the brain grows and changes in crucial ways and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with brain development processes and cause long-lasting effects.

Exercise matters to health and well-being, regardless of your size

Published January 14, 2021

Regardless of your size or fitness level, exercise has multiple benefits. Almost anything that gets you moving counts, and some activity is always better than none. These suggestions can help you make exercise work for you.

Can I take something to prevent colorectal cancer?

Published January 13, 2021

Screening for colorectal cancer can lower mortality, but it varies in effectiveness and is not always possible to perform, so alternatives are needed. Researchers analyzing studies found evidence for regular use of low-dose aspirin, leading the US Preventive Services Task Force to recommend it for some people.

3 simple steps to jump-start your heart health this year

Published January 12, 2021

Several habits can improve your heart health (and, as a side effect, may make you less vulnerable to infections like the flu or COVID-19). Focusing on a few of these is an excellent way to take care of your heart — and boost your overall health in the process.

CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution

Updated January 11, 2021

Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are very popular, promising relief from a wide range of maladies. But if you are considering taking a product containing CBD, be aware that if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal products, CBD can interact with them and cause unexpected side effects.

Can gout be prevented?

Published January 8, 2021

Gout, a debilitating form of arthritis, is on the rise compared with rates in prior decades. Obesity is probably a significant factor in this increase. Now, a new study suggests that three-quarters of gout cases in men might be completely avoidable by following certain protective health habits.

COVID-19 and the heart: What have we learned?

Updated January 8, 2021

Death rates from COVID-19 have dropped significantly since the start of the pandemic, but people with cardiovascular disease are at much higher risk of having a severe form of it. It’s now clearer why this is so, and how the virus can cause heart damage.

Hormonal therapies for advanced prostate cancer linked to a higher risk of falls and fractures

Published January 7, 2021

Falls rank among the top causes of death and injuries among the elderly, and the risk increases significantly in older people being treated for cancer. Now, investigators are reporting that a newer class of drugs for advanced prostate cancer is associated with a significant increase in fall risk. Called androgen receptor inhibitors, or ARIs, these […]

Sexual health and gender-affirming care

Published January 7, 2021

The lived experience of every transgender and gender diverse person (TDG) is unique, as are their approaches to gender affirmation. Some may choose to affirm their gender only socially, or not at all, while others use a variety of medical and surgical procedures to do so. How do certain choices affect sexual health?

Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy?

Updated August 25, 2021

If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, you may have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Get informed by consulting trusted health sources, and talking with your medical providers.

We’re supposed to make resolutions now?

Published January 5, 2021

After everything that has happened in 2020, making New Year’s resolutions might be too much to expect of many. Setting goals for the coming year seems like too much to ask right now. Is it okay to just give yourself a break this year? Or is there another way of looking at the whole situation?

3 easy ways to eat a healthier diet

Published January 4, 2021

The very best intentions for healthy eating can fail if a new diet is too ambitious or restrictive. Taking small, easy steps toward healthier eating—and taking them one at a time—can help you make lasting changes.

Do pro-inflammatory diets harm our health? And can anti-inflammatory diets help?

Published December 23, 2020

Researchers found that people who ate larger quantities of pro-inflammatory foods had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Understanding the link between diet and inflammation may help identify specific dietary patterns and foods than can diminish chronic inflammation and improve health.

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