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Is red wine good actually for your heart?
Have you ever topped off your glass of cabernet or pinot noir while saying, “Hey, it’s good for my heart, right?” This widely held impression dates back to a catchphrase coined in the late 1980s: the French Paradox. The French Paradox refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and other rich, fatty foods. This theory helped spur the discovery of a host of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols. Found in red and purple grape skins (as well as many other fruits, vegetables, and nuts), polyphenols ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Stem-cell transplant: A possible high-risk/high-reward treatment for scleroderma
In this study, 36 people with severe scleroderma received stem-cell transplantation and were compared with 39 otherwise similar people who received a year of standard immune-suppressing medication. After 4.5 years, those assigned to receive stem-cell transplantation had improved overall survival compared with standard treatment (79% vs. 50%) less need for immune-suppressing medication (9% vs. 44%) fewer deaths related to worsening scleroderma (11% vs. 28%) more deaths related to treatment — (3% vs. 0%). These findings suggest that stem-cell transplantation may be much better than standard treatment for people with ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Autoimmune diseases Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

How to welcome back a colleague who is in recovery
It can be awkward or difficult to welcome back a colleague who has been absent for reasons related to mental health. These issues, historically, have been taboo, and are loaded with stigma. It is hard to know how to act toward a colleague who has returned from treatment for a mental health issue. Do I ask about it? Do I pretend that nothing happened? Do I say that I hope they are feeling better? Usually, none of these options feels right. This difficulty is particularly true when colleagues return from being treated for problems with drugs or alcohol. The stigma in our society against people suffering from addiction is ram...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Mental Health Workplace health Source Type: blogs

February and the heart: More than Valentine ’s Day
Today is Valentine’s Day and many of us turn our thoughts to hearts and love. But there is more than one day this month to think about the heart and heart health. February is Heart Month, and with it, I hope many people make a commitment to getting heart healthy. As a cardiologist, many well-intentioned people will come to my office seeking guidance, especially about weight loss. While January sees an uptick in gym memberships, by the time February rolls around, dedication to working out becomes challenging. Exercise is, of course, heart healthy and everyone should make an effort to stay physically active. But, few p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

This Valentine ’s Day, 14 ways parents can show love for their children
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Valentine’s Day — a day we associate with love. Usually we think of the day in terms of romantic love, with cards and flowers for our partner, but it can also be a day to show love for our children and to think about how we can better make our children feel loved all year round. When children feel loved, it not only builds happiness, but confidence and resilience, both of which can make a lifelong difference. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests these 14 tips for this February 14th 1.   Be positive and encouraging when you talk with your children....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Calcium, vitamin D, and fractures (oh my!)
When I saw the headlines about this recently published study on bone health saying “Vitamin D and calcium supplements may not lower fracture risk” I thought: Wait, that’s news? I think I remember seeing that headline a few years ago. Indeed, in 2015, this very blog reported on similar studies of calcium supplements, noting that calcium supplements have risks and side effects, and are not likely indicated for most healthy community-dwelling adults over 50. These folks are not in a high-risk category for vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and fractures, and we usually advise them to get their calcium from ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Osteoporosis Source Type: blogs

A doctor answers 5 questions about dry skin
In the winter months, I wash my hands regularly and use a squirt of hand sanitizer from time to time in an effort to ward off colds. It may be a good health habit, but it also pretty much guarantees that I’m plagued by dry, cracked skin and tiny cuts around my fingers until spring. Dry skin in the winter months is common, partly because people ramp up their hand washing, but the combination of cold air and the lack of humidity also plays a role. Your skin spends the winter months fighting to retain moisture, not to mention fending off other insults from cold-weather staples like scratchy wool clothes and crackling wo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Expert advice on how to quit smoking
Okay, everyone knows smoking is bad for you, the number one cause of preventable death in the US and the world, a direct cause of lung and heart disease and cancer… et cetera. So let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty: quitting smoking is tough. What can people do to quit? To answer this question, I spoke with my colleague Nancy Rigotti, MD. Dr. Rigotti is director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Tobacco Research and Treatment Center. She has extensively researched nicotine and tobacco, evaluated public policies on tobacco, contributed to US Surgeon General’s Reports, and authored clinical guidel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Heart Health Lung disease Prevention Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Vaccinations: More than just kid stuff
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling This is the time of year when it’s important to think about flu vaccinations. And there’s good reason for that! The flu causes thousands of preventable hospitalizations and deaths each year. But what about other vaccinations? Do you think of them as something for kids? You aren’t alone. And it’s true, a number of vaccinations are recommended for young children as well as preteens and teenagers. These vaccinations have provided an enormous benefit to public health by preventing diseases that were common and sometimes deadly in the past, including polio, rubella, and...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Vaccines Source Type: blogs

4 things all parents should do to help prevent sexual abuse
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The trial of Larry Nasser, the physician who sexually abused female gymnasts, has been deeply disturbing. It’s hard to fathom how he managed to abuse hundreds of girls for so many years. Sadly, this can happen with sexual abuse. Very often, the perpetrator is someone known to the family, someone they may even trust. Very often, victims don’t understand that what is happening to them is abuse — and very often, talking about it is hard because of shame and fear. As a society, we need to do a better job of protecting our children. But there are also lessons that parents can tea...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: blogs

“Me time” sounds good, but when exactly?
I got a new doctor last year and at my first exam, he asked the standard, “What do you like to do for fun?” I laughed at him. I said that I have a 6-year-old and 3-year-old, mumbled something about poker games, and then my answer stopped. I’m not complaining, at least not much. I like my family and they require time. I don’t mind giving it, though I also work at home, a personal choice that comes with great benefits. But I can’t completely disappear, so sometimes, it just feels like an unending amount of time. My friends with older kids try to be supportive, saying that my wife, Jenny, and I a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

This year ’s flu season: Public health catastrophe or par for the course?
Follow me on Twitter @JohnRossMD If you think that there’s a lot of flu going around this January, you’re absolutely right. Every state except Hawaii is reporting widespread influenza activity, making for a lot of miserable people suffering from classic flu symptoms of cough, fever, headache, stuffy nose, and achy muscles. Hospitals across the United States have been flooded with flu patients. Matters have been made worse by national shortages of IV fluids in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Are we headed toward a historically bad flu season? It’s too early to tell. This year, it could just be that flu season...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Cold and Flu Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

When gambling might be a problem
Follow me on Twitter @Howard_Shaffer Just as we’ve finished welcoming the new year, sports fans are getting ready to celebrate the Super Bowl. This event marks the single most active gambling-related activity in the world. For most gamblers, betting on the outcome of a sporting event, lottery drawing, casino table game, or any event with an outcome determined by chance represents an entertaining recreational activity. However, for some, gambling can become an addiction. Excessive gambling recognized as an addiction Gambling disorder is now a part of the American Psychiatric Association’s latest version of its d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 1, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Howard J. Shaffer, PhD, CAS Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

Newer drugs are improving survival for men with metastatic prostate cancer
This study provides important information that men with advanced forms of prostate cancer are now living longer than they once did, sometimes years longer. Those of us who have been treating prostate cancer for decades appreciate this study’s fundamental finding that the improved longevity from newer cancer drugs is considerable.” The post Newer drugs are improving survival for men with metastatic prostate cancer appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 31, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Health Men's Health Prostate Health Source Type: blogs

Why teenagers eat Tide pods
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s been on the news recently: teens are eating Tide detergent pods — despite the fact that eating them can be lethal. They film themselves doing it; it’s the “Tide Pod Challenge.” It’s not like they don’t know it can be dangerous. Besides the fact that it’s common knowledge that detergent isn’t food, there has been a lot of media coverage about the dangers of toddlers getting into them, about how Tide pods are not just poisonous but possibly lethal. The media coverage, actually, is part of the problem. But the real problem is the adolesc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

A neurologist talks about kids and headaches
It’s not uncommon for a child to complain of a headache. But what should a parent do? When should you worry? What are features that are cause for concern and should prompt a call to the pediatrician, or even a trip to the emergency room? For kids with headaches, do they necessarily need to take medication, or are there other nondrug treatments that may be just as effective? When to call your pediatrician The cardinal rule for thinking about headaches is “first or worst.” In practical terms, if your child has never had a headache before, you need to evaluate carefully. Did he have any recent head trauma, ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carolyn A. Bernstein, MD, FAHS Tags: Children's Health Headache Parenting Source Type: blogs

10 things you can do for your pet when it ’s cold outside
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Venturing out in frigid conditions with our golden retriever, I was wishing I had worn another layer or two. And that got me thinking. Sparky’s got a thick coat of fur, but is that enough? Is there more I should be doing for him during cold snaps? On our last walk, I’m pretty sure he would have said yes. In fact, there are a number of things we can do to make sure our pets are safe during the worst of winter. Here are 10 things experts recommend: 1.  When returning from a walk, clean off your pet’s paws and check them for redness or cracks. 2.  Apply petroleum ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Pets Source Type: blogs

Acupuncture for headache
It is easy to ridicule a 2000-year-old treatment that can seem closer to magic than to science. Indeed, from the 1970s to around 2005, the skeptic’s point of view was understandable, because the scientific evidence to show that acupuncture worked, and why, was weak, and clinical trials were small and of poor quality. But things have changed since then. A lot. Thanks to the development of valid placebo controls (for example, a retractable “sham” device that looks like an acupuncture needle but does not penetrate the skin), and the publication of several large and well-designed clinical trials in the last d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 25, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Helene Langevin, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Headache Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Involuntary treatment for substance use disorder: A misguided response to the opioid crisis
Recently, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker introduced “An Act Relative to Combatting Addiction, Accessing Treatment, Reducing Prescriptions, and Enhancing Prevention” (CARE Act) as part of a larger legislative package to tackle the state’s opioid crisis. The proposal would expand on the state’s existing involuntary commitment law, building on an already deeply-troubled system. Baker’s proposal is part of a misguided national trend to use involuntary commitment or other coercive treatment mechanisms to address the country’s opioid crisis. The CARE Act and involuntary hold Right now, S...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 24, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

The crucial brain foods all children need
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire The first 1,000 days of life are crucial for brain development — and food plays an important role. The ways that the brain develops during pregnancy and during the first two years of life are like scaffolding: they literally define how the brain will work for the rest of a person’s life. Nerves grow and connect and get covered with myelin, creating the systems that decide how a child — and the adult she becomes — thinks and feels. Those connections and changes affect sensory systems, learning, memory, attention, processing speed, the ability to control impulses and moo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Children's Health Healthy Eating Parenting Pregnancy Source Type: blogs

Keeping carbon monoxide out of your home
Every year in the US, about 10,000 persons are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, and roughly 400 die from unintentional exposure. This mostly occurs in our cold winter months, like now… Why winter? Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas normally found in the atmosphere at low levels. Many things contribute to the level of CO in the air, both outdoors (like pollution) and indoors (like tobacco smoke). High levels can also be produced from the burning of wood, gas, and other fuels. Poor heating systems or those with improper ventilation can lead to dangerous levels of CO in the air. Thi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 22, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Health Safety Source Type: blogs

Revisiting options for improving results of breast reconstruction
This study is the first of its kind to provide patient-reported outcomes about fat grafting, and reflects a growing trend of incorporating patient-reported outcomes into clinical trials. Gaining a better understanding of outcomes from the patients’ perspective helps researchers and clinicians to design and deliver care that truly meets the personal preferences and treatment priorities of women diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d like to thank my colleague Dr. Dhruv Singhal, a plastic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, for his contributions to this post.  The post Revisiting options for imp...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ted A. James, MD Tags: Breast Cancer Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Access to safe, affordable birth control is a maternal health issue
I am a physician. As a high-risk obstetrician (maternal-fetal medicine specialist) I pride myself on caring for women who are likely to become (or who are already) so ill that many others view caring for them as a burden. I help women achieve a safe pregnancy when colleagues have advised against pregnancy altogether. Whether it is the patient with such a complex surgical history that her cesarean delivery will include massive blood loss and a hysterectomy, or the patient with a history of liver transplant trying to carry a pregnancy for the fourth time (each unsuccessful as she struggles in and out of graft rejection), or ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Shainker, DO, MS Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Health Women's Health birth control Source Type: blogs

False alarm in Hawaii: Preparing for the unthinkable
Early last Saturday morning in Hawaii, cellphones flashed the following warning from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.” Television and radio broadcast similar messages. For 38 minutes, until this warning was retracted, the residents of Hawaii and beyond were put into a state of utter panic and despair, concerned about a potential nuclear attack from North Korea. These worries are not new After the end of the Cold War, and after several decades of relative calm, the threat of nuclear war or of a rogue nuclear blast ha...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Emergency Planning Health Source Type: blogs

When to worry about your child ’s sore throat
Follow me on Twitter @DrClaire Sore throats happen all the time in childhood — and most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about. Most of the time, they are simply part of a common cold, don’t cause any problems, and get better without any treatment. Sometimes, though, a sore throat can be a sign of a problem that might need medical treatment. Here are four examples: Strep throat. This infection, caused by a particular kind of streptococcus bacteria, is quite common. Along with a sore throat, children may have a fever, headache, stomachache (sometimes with vomiting), and a fine, pink rash that almost look...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Medical marijuana
There are few subjects that can stir up stronger emotions among doctors, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the public than medical marijuana. Is it safe? Should it be legal? Decriminalized? Has its effectiveness been proven? What conditions is it useful for? Is it addictive? How do we keep it out of the hands of teenagers? Is it really the “wonder drug” that people claim it is? Is medical marijuana just a ploy to legalize marijuana in general? These are just a few of the excellent questions around this subject, questions that I am going to studiously avoid so we can focus on two specific areas: why do...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 15, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Health Pain Management Source Type: blogs

The ghost in the basement
Follow me on Twitter @BillEduTheater We are fortunate to have a country home in the Catskills where we can escape city life. An eight-year-old neighbor often crosses our meadow or bikes over to stop by for a visit. While I’d like to think I’m the featured attraction, his visits are not just to see me; of much greater interest is our basement with its shelves of toys and games. Particularly appealing to this lad is the sports equipment: hockey sticks, goalie pads, a goal to shoot on, baseball mitts, a batting helmet, a catcher’s mask, soccer balls, and more. Name the sport and it is most likely we have equ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bill Williams Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

Rhabdo: A rare but serious complication of … exercise
It’s a new year, the gyms are unusually busy, and many of us started a new physical activity. Several health clubs are offering fun, interactive, and dynamic exercises such as whole-body workouts, functional training, CrossFit, high-intensity interval training, spinning, etc. Some of these classes are incorporating intense workouts, which was a hot topic in exercise physiology in 2017. There is significant enthusiasm around these programs among my friends, family, and patients. Some of these classes have loud music, lights, and trainers whose job is to push you to a new level. Increasing the intensity of a workout ma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC
In conclusion… Maybe this year’s flu season will be milder than expected. But I wouldn’t count on it. I’ve had the flu and it’s not pleasant. Do what you can to lessen your risk. It’s worth the effort. The post The flu is here — and so is a new advisory from the CDC appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Source: Harvard Health Blog)
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

5 common problems that can mimic ADHD
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is very common — according to the most recent statistics, one in 10 children between the ages of 4 and 17 has been diagnosed with this problem. So it’s not surprising that when parents notice that their child has trouble concentrating, is more active or impulsive than other children, and is having trouble in school, they think that their child might have ADHD. But ADHD isn’t the only problem that can cause a child to have trouble with concentration, behavior, or school performance. There are actually lots of problems that ca...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 9, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Another option for life-threatening allergic reactions
For some people, many foods, medicines, and bee stings mean life-threatening allergic reactions that require immediate treatment with injectable epinephrine. For many people, January means the start of a new drug deductible to be met. In June 2017 the FDA approved a new form of emergency epinephrine called Symjepi, which may be good news for people who must be prepared in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction. The seriousness of a severe allergic reaction Severe allergic reactions affect anywhere from 5% to 70% of persons, depending on age and prior exposure. Anaphylactic or “type 1” (immediate hype...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 8, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Susan Farrell, MD Tags: Allergies Health Source Type: blogs

Working through workplace stigma: Coming back after an addiction
My first day returning to work after being treated for a severe opiate addiction was one of the most daunting moments of my life. Everyone in the office, from my manager to the administrative assistants, knew that forged prescriptions and criminal charges were the reason I had been let go from my previous job. My mind was spinning. What would my coworkers think of me? Who would want to work alongside an “addict”? Would they ever come to trust me? Did I even deserve to be here? When my life was crashing and burning due to my addiction (detailed in my memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction), a retu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Health Workplace health Source Type: blogs

Is “man flu” really a thing?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling This one got by me. I’d never heard of “man flu” but according to a new study of the topic, the term is “so ubiquitous that it has been included in the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries. Oxford defines it as ‘a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.’” Another reference called it “wimpy man” syndrome. Wow. I’d heard it said (mostly in jest) that if men had to carry and deliver babies, humankind would have long ago gone extinct. But wimpy man syndrome? I j...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Health Infectious diseases Men's Health Source Type: blogs

Comparing medications to treat opioid use disorder
This study was widely covered in the press, and many of the sound bites and headlines reporting the two treatments to be equally effective were a bit misleading. The advantages and disadvantages of buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv, Probuphine, Sublocade) Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist medication. This medication activates the same receptors in the brain as any opioid, but only partly. Because its effects are long-lasting, it can be taken once a day to relieve cravings, prevent withdrawal, and restore normal functioning in someone with opioid use disorder. Because it is a partial agonist, it has a ceilin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative Tags: Addiction Health Source Type: blogs

Frozen (the cold will bother you …)
Whether you and your family are embracing the pleasures of the winter season with ice skating and snowball fights, or reluctantly venturing outdoors to walk the dog and shovel snow, be aware of the health hazards of this cold snap… like frostbite. Here’s why you don’t want to mess with frostbite Frostbite can occur even after minutes of exposure to sub-freezing temperatures and wind chill. It develops after exposure to severe cold leads to freezing and injury of tissue with destruction of cells. The inflammation that follows frostbite can cause further tissue damage. The more commonly affected areas are ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Health Prevention Safety Skin and Hair Care frostbite Source Type: blogs

3 New Year ’s resolutions all families can (and should) make
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire It’s the beginning of a new calendar year, that time when we resolve to do new and better things. This is such a wonderful idea, because doing new and better things can make us healthier and happier. Resolutions can be particularly good for families to make. Not only is it good to work together on something, it’s a good way to keep everyone accountable. The best resolutions are the ones that are simple. By simple, I don’t necessarily mean easy (if they were easy, we wouldn’t have to resolve to do them). I mean that they are resolutions that you can lean into and work t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 2, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Parenting Source Type: blogs

Returning to an old exercise routine? Here ’ s what you need to know
My ancient workout clothes are folded neatly (and squished) beneath a pile of sweaters on a shelf in my closet. They were cute — from the ‘90s — when I cared very much about how I looked at the gym. Decades later, I skip the gym and instead walk most days and do body weight exercises, all while clad in a sweatshirt and yoga pants. But whenever I see my old gym outfit (blue leotard “overalls” with a cropped tee shirt built in), I wonder if maybe I’d get more from a gym workout. It wouldn’t be hard to jump back in, would it? Just a second It turns out, it’s smarter to ease back...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 28, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Should you ever not listen to your doctor?
Since I got married seven years ago and had two kids, I’ve had to shed parts of my life, like the hockey package, going to the movies, and slow-pitch softball. None were hard sacrifices, but the casualty that hurt the most was giving up my doctor of over 20 years. I met him soon after I got out of college and he was early in his career, and while I never needed him for much, I knew he was on top of everything. Even after my wife and I moved north of Boston, I wanted to believe that I could keep him, that an hour-long drive into town without traffic was possible, because how often did I ever have an emergency? Well, i...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 26, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Health Health care Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Preventing overdose deaths is not one-size-fits-all
By now, we all know that the number of opioid-related deaths in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declaring an epidemic in 2011, the death rate has continued to increase every year, with more than 30,000 deaths per year now attributed to opioids. Graphs from the CDC show the geographic distribution of the epidemic and demonstrate that nearly the entire United States is involved. This tragic death toll has culminated in many local, state, and federal government initiatives to fix the problem, including President Trump’s recent declaration that th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 22, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Source Type: blogs

To exercise more, get your game on
In this study, participants earned points by meeting daily physical activity goals, progressing through higher levels by keeping up that behavior, and ultimately winning prizes. But games are not just for single players. “Being on a team encourages cooperation, and people egg each other on. And when different teams compete against one another, that adds another layer of incentive. It’s like the difference between playing solitaire versus bridge,” Dr. Kawachi explains. The study, published online Oct. 2, 2017, by JAMA Internal Medicine, relied on practices inspired by behavioral economics. People dislike l...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 21, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Answer these 5 questions to help make your New Year ’s resolutions stick
It’s that time of the year again when we start thinking about the (in)famous New Year’s resolutions. Change can be a frustrating experience for many. So, I decided to investigate what may increase your chances of success. I would like to propose a framework that combines the science of behavior change with the idea that we are able to rewire our brains to improve our health, well-being, and overall quality of life, called neuroplasticity. So, grab a piece of paper to write down the answers to the questions below. 1.  Why do you want to make the change? Make sure you find your true motivation. Try to look b...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

Racial and ethnic minority communities hit hard by type 2 diabetes: Here ’s what we can do
To read in Spanish As you probably know, type 2 diabetes has become a major health problem in the US and around the world. People with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use glucose (sugar) from the food they eat to fuel the body. As a result, blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal. Over time this can lead to serious, even deadly, complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. The slow and insidious nature of persistently high blood sugar can also cause problems that interfere with quality of life, including vision changes, nerve pain and infections that are slow to heal. It is estimated t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: A. Enrique Caballero, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Health care disparities Source Type: blogs

Minor ías raciales/étnicas seriamente afectadas por diabetes tipo 2: Esto es lo que podemos hacer
Para leer en inglés Probablemente usted sabe que la diabetes tipo 2 se ha convertido en un problema enorme en el área de salud en los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica (EUA) y en el resto del mundo. Las personas con diabetes tipo 2 no pueden utilizar la glucosa (azúcar) que se obtiene de los alimentos como fuente de energía de forma eficiente. En consecuencia, los niveles de azúcar en la sangre están por encima de lo normal. Con el tiempo, esto puede causar complicaciones serias e incluso fatales como enfermedad cardiovascular, enfermedad de los riñones y enfermedad vasc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: A. Enrique Caballero, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Source Type: blogs

Remembering the “me” in merry: Self-care strategies for this holiday season
The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle. There’s plenty of excitement from seeing family and friends, but also stress, travel, long lines, planning, preparation — and a range of emotions from positive to negative. For many, the holiday season means planning and taking care of others. However, this leaves little time for taking care of oneself. Below are a few ideas on how to practice self-care during this holiday season. Regularly schedule time to engage in self-care activities. Schedule self-care activities (exercise, meditation, a hobby you enjoy) at the same time each day so they become routine,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 18, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Mind body medicine Stress Source Type: blogs

A more precise approach to fighting cancer
If you are like me, when you get the flu you head straight to the pharmacy and grab the most powerful over-the-counter medicine you can find. But is that really the best approach? After all, your condition, symptoms, and reaction to the virus may be quite different from someone else’s, so why use the same medicine? Instead, you may benefit more from a treatment specifically designed just for you and your ailment. That’s the philosophy behind precision medicine (sometimes referred to as personalized medicine), an approach to cancer prevention and treatment that takes into account a person’s genes, environm...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 15, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Cancer Medical Research Source Type: blogs

Navigating the holidays in recovery
The winter holidays are almost universally experienced as a time of joy, and of familial togetherness. For many they are the highlight of the year, a time of relaxation, gift-giving, spiritual renewal, and reflection on a year of skirmishes fought on behalf of one’s family. But for people in recovery from substance use disorders, such as from opiates or alcohol, the holidays can be a time of unique and profound stress. Part of this stress is related to the freely flowing alcohol that can be found at many holiday events, and another aspect is often related to complex interactions with family members who can be “...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 14, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Are you getting the most out of your high-deductible health plan?
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling Picking a health insurance plan can be maddeningly complicated. It may seem that no matter what you do, you’re picking the wrong plan. Should you go with the one with high monthly premiums that covers just about everything and even pays for medications? Or maybe it’d be best to go with one with lower premiums but that covers fewer expenses. Picking the one that’s best depends on your medical conditions, the medications you take, and, to some degree, your ability to predict future medical expenses. And it only gets more difficult as costs rise and medical care gets more c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Keeping children safe this holiday season
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Holidays are best when they are spent having fun with friends and family — not spent in an emergency room. Yet every year that’s where thousands of people end up, due to holiday-related injuries and illnesses. Here are some tips to help keep your children safe and well this holiday season, from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Holiday decorations They make everything more festive, that’s true, but they can be dangerous. If you buy a live tree, make sure it’s not dried out. Cut a few inches off the bottom, and keep the stand filled with water. If you use an artifici...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

Avoiding holiday excess (and what to do if you overdo it)
The holidays are famously a time of celebration, and where there is celebrating, there is usually too much alcohol, too many rich foods, and not enough sleep. Here are some basic tips on not overdoing it — and how to manage when you have. Common sense rules You know the saying “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry”? The reason is pretty obvious. If you’re famished, you may not make the best food choices. Well, the same applies to holiday parties. If you are truly hungry, have something healthy and filling beforehand, like a beautiful salad. Pressed for time? Eat an apple. Already there? Look a...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs

Is there a link between alcohol and skin cancer?
Patients are always elated when you can recommend an enjoyable, health-improving, recreational activity. As a runner, my favorite “prescription” while pregnant was exercise! However, more often than not, pleasurable activities are not what’s best for one’s health. But as a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer, I am generally the bearer of bad news when I tell patients to never get another tan. This November, alcohol came into the spotlight. The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended minimizing drinking alcohol, as it is thought to be a “mod...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 8, 2017 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily S. Ruiz, MD, MPH Tags: Cancer Health Healthy Eating Prevention Source Type: blogs