Immunotherapy: What you need to know
Not all that long ago, chemotherapy was the only option to treat most advanced (metastatic) cancers. Because these drugs work by destroying rapidly dividing cells, they harm some healthy cells — such as hair follicles — as well as cancer cells. In the past two decades, cancer treatment has been transformed by targeted drugs and the emergence of chemotherapy. Targeted drugs are designed to home in on specific genes or proteins that are altered or overexpressed on cancer cells. Immunotherapy has been very successful for certain types of advanced cancers, such as lung, bladder, and skin cancers. One form of immuno...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Guru P. Sonpavde, MD Tags: Cancer Immunotherapy Managing your health care Source Type: blogs

Bad breath: What causes it and what to do about it
Almost everyone experiences bad breath once in a while. But for some people, bad breath is a daily problem, and they struggle to find a solution. Approximately 30% of the population complains of some sort of bad breath. Halitosis (Latin for “bad breath”) often occurs after a garlicky meal or in the morning after waking. Other causes of temporary halitosis include some beverages (including alcoholic drinks or coffee) and tobacco smoking. Some people may not be aware of their own halitosis and learn about it from a relative, friend, or coworker, causing some degree of discomfort and distress. In severe cases, bad...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alessandro Villa DDS, PhD, MPH Tags: Dental Health Source Type: blogs

Bleeding after menopause: Get it checked out
Bleeding after menopause can be disconcerting, but the good news is, more than 90% of the time it’s not caused by a serious condition, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. That said, the study also reinforces the idea that postmenopausal bleeding should always be checked out by your doctor to rule out endometrial cancer, a cancer of the uterine lining, says Dr. Ross Berkowitz, William H. Baker Professor of Gynecology at Harvard Medical School. This is because the study also found more than 90% of women who did have endometrial cancer had experienced postmenopausal bleeding. And screening all women who...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Does weather affect arthritis pain?
In conclusion… It’s true: medical myths die hard. In fact, some seem immortal. One could argue that’s as it should be. After all, yesterday’s medical myth is only one discovery away from becoming tomorrow’s medical fact. Still, when the evidence is compelling, I think we’d be better off letting go of what’s been disproven, give more credence to evidence than folklore, and keep an open mind — just in case the evidence changes. When my patients tell me they can predict the weather by how their joints feel, I believe them. It’s hard to discount it when so many people noti...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Source Type: blogs

Going Mediterranean to prevent heart disease
There is a mountain of high-quality research supporting a Mediterranean-style diet as the best diet for our cardiovascular health. But what does this diet actually look like, why does it work, and how can we adopt it into our real lives? What is a Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet is not a fad. It is a centuries-old approach to meals, traditional to the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. The bulk of the diet consists of colorful fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, with olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine. There is no butter, no refined grains (like ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Infertility and regret: If only …
I can often hear it coming. One need spend only a few minutes with someone coping with infertility before encountering a cascade of regret. “If only we hadn’t waited so long.” “If only I had frozen my eggs.” “If only we had changed doctors sooner.” “If only I hadn’t believed my OB/GYN when she told me not to worry.” “If only I’d realized earlier that I could do it on my own.” “If only I’d met my husband when I was younger.” And so it goes. Sure, other thoughts and feelings may torment infertile women and men. Sadness, anger, hel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Health Infertility Men's Health Mental Health Relationships Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Is there a place for coconut oil in a healthy diet?
Coconut oil has seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to many touted health benefits, ranging from reducing belly fat to strengthening the immune system, preventing heart disease, and staving off dementia. These claims are often backed by celebrity endorsements and bolstered by proponents of popular diets such as ketogenic and Paleo, with little support from scientific evidence. On the flip side, and further adding to the confusion, you also may have seen headlines calling out coconut oil as “pure poison,” implying that it shouldn’t be consumed at all. Given these contradictory claims, a question...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Vasanti Malik, ScD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Younger kindergarteners more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD
In a class of kindergarteners, a child born in August is about 30% more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 25% more likely to be treated for it, than a child born in September — if you have to be 5 years old by September 1st to start kindergarten. These were the findings of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They didn’t find such a difference between any two other months — and in schools that didn’t have a September 1 cutoff for entry, the difference between August and September disappeared. It’s not a Leo versus Virgo thing:...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can watching sports be bad for your health?
As the new year begins, sports fans rejoice! You’ve had the excitement of the college football bowl games and the national championship, the NFL playoff games are winnowing teams down to the Super Bowl contestants, and basketball and hockey seasons are in full swing. There’s even some early talk of spring training for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. While I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, the truth is that there can be health risks associated with watching sports. I’ve seen it firsthand while working in a walk-in clinic near Fenway Park, where people would show up bleeding from cuts that...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition of extra fat buildup in the liver, is on the rise — it now affects roughly 20% to 40% of the US population. It usually doesn’t cause any symptoms, and is often first detected by accident when an imaging study (such as an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI) is requested for another reason. A fatty liver may also be identified on an imaging test as a part of investigating abnormal liver blood tests. NAFLD is intimately related to conditions like diabetes and obesity. It’s also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Understanding NAFLD...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Surgery for appendicitis? Antibiotics alone may be enough
I remember when my best friend in fifth grade couldn’t make our much-anticipated end-of-the-school-year camping trip because he had just undergone surgery for appendicitis. Now I prevent kids from participating in their school activities for four to six weeks after I remove their appendix. But what is the appendix, why do we have an organ that causes so many problems, and do you need surgery for appendicitis? Role of the appendix is unclear The appendix is a fingerlike tube, about three to four inches long, that comes off of the first portion of the colon. It is normally located in the lower right abdomen, just after...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christopher J. Burns, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Heart disease and breast cancer: Can women cut risk for both?
Very often I encounter women who are far more worried about breast cancer than they are about heart disease. But women have a greater risk of dying from heart disease than from all cancers combined. This is true for women of all races and ethnicities. Yet only about 50% of women realize that they are at greater risk from heart disease than from anything else. Currently in the US, three million women are living with breast cancer, which causes one in 31 deaths. Almost 50 million women have cardiovascular disease, which encompasses heart disease and strokes and causes one in three deaths. Here’s what’s reall...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Breast Cancer Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Long-term statin use protects against prostate cancer death
Statins and other drugs that lessen cardiovascular disease risk by lowering blood lipids rank among the world’s most prescribed medications. And for the men who take them, accumulating evidence has for years pointed to another added benefit: a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Now researchers are reporting that long-term statin use (more than 10 years) can also reduce the odds of a prostate cancer death. The new findings come from a study led by Alison Mondul, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Mondul says that most men develop slow-growing, indolent prostate cancer...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer Prostate Knowledge HPK Source Type: blogs

NSAIDs: How dangerous are they for your heart?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are one of the most common medications used to treat pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, and other NSAIDs are effective across a variety of common conditions, from acute musculoskeletal pain to chronic arthritis. They work by blocking specific proteins, called COX enzymes. This results in the reduction of prostaglandins, which play a key role in pain and inflammation. There are two types of NSAIDs: nonselective NSAIDs and COX-2 selective NSAIDs (these are sometimes referred to as “coxibs”). There has been a growing body ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christian Ruff, MD, MPH Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Working with a disability
A decade ago, I was completing my master’s degree in environmental science and policy, and preparing to embark on a multi-decade career in advocacy and public policy that would have required not only long hours during the workweek, but frequent travel and overtime. Unfortunately, my body had other plans. Slowly my experiences began to erode my fantasies, until finally my vision of a flourishing full-time career evaporated entirely. The slow toll of disability on work life and goals This didn’t happen suddenly or all at once. Instead, I gradually and incrementally began to pull back from applying for high-energy...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Laura Kiesel Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Grieving? Don ’t overlook potential side effects
Nothing quite prepares you for the heartache of profound loss. It settles in like a gloomy thrum — sometimes louder, sometimes softer — with a volume switch you can’t entirely shut off. For me, that heartbreak arrived this past October, when my mother died after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and disability. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m experiencing real grief. As a health reporter, I know this emotional experience comes with the risk for physical side effects. “Most of these side effects are the result of emotional distress responses,” explains Dr. Ma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

Acne: What you need to know
When the teenage years arrive, they often come with those annoying, distinctive pimples on the face, and often on the chest and back too. These little skin imperfections tend to go away as we get older, but for some of us, the painful, red and sometimes yellow “zits” may last a lot longer into adulthood. Acne is one of the most common skin problems in teenagers and young adults, and causes significant emotional distress for many. Acne is caused by inflammation in the pilosebaceous unit, the place that harbors the hair follicle and the sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces sebum, an oily substance that l...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Baloxavir (Xofluza): A new antiviral drug for the flu
A new drug for the treatment of influenza was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2018, just in time for the 2018–19 flu season. Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza) works against the two types of influenza virus that cause disease in humans, influenza A and B. This new drug works differently than currently available drugs, including oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), and peramivir (Rapivab). These older drugs inhibit the virus by blocking a viral enzyme called neuraminidase. In contrast, baloxavir inhibits a subunit of the viral polymerase, the enzyme responsible for influenza virus rep...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Daniel Kuritzkes, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Health Source Type: blogs

The better way to discipline children
It may be the toughest part of parenting: learning how to discipline children. As all parents know, or figure out, raising children isn’t just about feeding, changing diapers, sleepless nights, hemorrhaging bank accounts, or general chaos. It’s about raising them to be safe, kind, respectful, and productive human beings. The word “discipline” literally has its roots in the Latin word disciplinare, to teach or train. Parents need to teach their children good behavior; it doesn’t just happen. And it is incredibly hard work, especially because when children act badly, it can get on a parent&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

6 steps toward a successful exercise resolution
Here we are at the end of December, and some of us are contemplating another chance for a fresh reboot. The infamous New Year’s resolutions are a common topic. Last year I wrote a blog post about an overall view of how to be successful when thinking about reaching a goal. Changing behavior is all about learning a new skill. Ultimately, you are teaching your brain that you can do a specific job, creating a new habit that eventually will be part of your weekly or daily routine. In a similar way that’s how we learn how to cook, and even how you learned to speak or walk. Acquiring a new habit requires a plan, pract...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Give yourself an annual health self-assessment
I understand why people embrace New Year’s resolutions: it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and set annual goals with new focus and enthusiasm. But are they focusing on the right areas of their lives? Instead of setting resolutions, a better approach may be to conduct a health self-assessment. It’s a way to take an in-depth look at where you are now, so you can identify the parts of your life that need the most attention. “A self-assessment gathers the vital information you need to begin thinking more about your life and how you want to live,” says Susan Flashner-Fineman, Vitalize 360 Coach ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Prevention Source Type: blogs

Surgeons are doing fewer knee surgeries
When knee arthroscopy became widely available in the 1980s, it represented a major advance. Today orthopedists evaluating and treating common knee problems often recommend arthroscopy, during which they insert an instrument into the joint and, with a light and camera on its tip, directly inspect the knee from the inside. While there, he or she can diagnose and treat common painful knee problems, such as arthritis or torn cartilage. The risks are much lower and recovery times much shorter than standard “open” knee operations. As with any technology or other advance in medicine, years of research were required to...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Source Type: blogs

Can exercise help conquer addiction?
As an athlete, I think regularly about the potential health benefits of exercise for my patients. Every week, I treat patients hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with significant medical problems that are a direct result of severe addiction, ranging from seizures and strokes to heart valve and joint infections. I also care for outpatients at the Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital Addiction Recovery Program. In both settings, I provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) such as buprenorphine-naloxone for opioid use disorder, and extended-release naltrexone for both alcohol use disorder and opioid u...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire Twark, MD Tags: Addiction Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

Does social media make you lonely?
Asking if social media makes you lonely and depressed is a little like asking if eating makes you fat. The answer is yes, absolutely, but not always, not in everyone, and not forever. Social media use is fine in moderation. But as with any diet that tilts heavily toward foods that lack nutritional value, an excessive intake of social media may be bad for your health. When it comes to social media, think snack-sized portions The latest research suggests that limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day “may lead to significant improvement in well-being,” according to a widely publicized University of Pennsylvan...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH Tags: Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Is a steady diet of social media unhealthy?
Asking if social media makes you lonely and depressed is a little like asking if eating makes you fat. The answer is yes, absolutely, but not always, not in everyone, and not forever. Social media use is fine in moderation. But as with any diet that tilts heavily toward foods that lack nutritional value, an excessive intake of social media may be bad for your health. When it comes to social media, think snack-sized portions The latest research suggests that limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day “may lead to significant improvement in well-being,” according to a widely publicized University of Pennsylvan...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 21, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH Tags: Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Alcohol use disorder: When is drinking a problem?
Over the past few months, a conversation about alcohol use has been center stage in the national news. Stories about underage drinking, blacking out, and harmful behavior associated with alcohol use are quite common in many families around the world. The rise of the opioid epidemic in the US has rightly caught our attention, but overshadowed a much more common problem. In the United States, from 2006 to 2010 alcohol-associated deaths accounted for 88,000 deaths annually, or almost 10% of all US deaths. While many people are becoming aware that medication assisted therapy can help treat opioid use disorder, very few know th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Benefits of a healthy diet — with or without weight loss
This study, called OMNI Heart (Optimal Macronutrient Intake to Prevent Heart Disease) examined 164 overweight and obese adults with prehypertension or Stage 1 hypertension, and replaced some of the carbohydrates in the DASH diet with either healthy protein (from fish, nuts, beans, and legumes) or unsaturated fats (from olive oil, nuts, avocado, and nut butters). Again calories were kept neutral to avoid weight gain or loss. Results showed that substituting healthy protein or healthy fats for some of the carbohydrate lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides even further than the DASH diet alone. Putt...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Heart failure and salt: The great debate
“Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.” — Nelson Mandela Salt: without it, food can seem tasteless. It is the reason sea water burns our eyes and skin. Some people enjoy salt water baths. Is it good for us? Is it not? Do we really know? In modern medicine, we tend to have a generally negative feeling about sodium, the element found in salt. Excessive sodium intake is linked to water retention, and it is also a risk factor for high blood pressure. Both excessive sodium intake and high blood pressure are major risk factors for developing heart failure, and for causing complications in those wit...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Januzzi, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Seasons of grief
While speaking as a panelist on substance use disorder (SUD), I felt it necessary to remind the audience that addiction is a family disease. While family members may not themselves be tethered to use of a substance, we all share in the anger, guilt, despair, and all too often grief that ripple back and forth in a family’s encounter with SUD. I learned early on, “Addiction isn’t a spectator sport, eventually the whole family gets to play.” What may be harder for some to understand is that the “sport” gets played for a lifetime, even by generations to come. I am reminded of a line near the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 17, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bill Williams Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

The new exercise guidelines: Any changes for you?
It’s likely you already know that regular exercise helps prevent chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems, while improving your overall health, mood, and quality of life. It can sharpen mental function, boost concentration, and help you sleep. And the new exercise and physical activity guidelines issued by the federal government’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion show that the dose required to gain these benefits is not hard to achieve. The new guidelines are better tailored for age and ability, too. What should your exercise goals be? The amount of exercise and mix of activities re...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 14, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lauren Elson, MD Tags: Adolescent health Exercise and Fitness Men's Health Pregnancy Women's Health Yoga Source Type: blogs

Intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury: An “invisible” public health epidemic
While studying brain injuries in the mid-1990s, I began volunteering in a domestic violence shelter. I noticed that the abuse and problems many women reported were consistent with possibly experiencing concussions. Women reported many acts of violence that could cause trauma to the brain, as well as many post-concussive symptoms. Shockingly, my search for literature on this topic yielded zero results. When I decided to focus my graduate work on this topic, I was even more shocked by what I learned from women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). Of the 99 women I interviewed, 75% reported at least one trauma...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 13, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eve Valera, PhD Tags: Concussions Neurological conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Smell disorders: When your sense of smell goes astray
We spend our days interacting with the world around us through our senses of sight, sound, and touch. But anyone who has developed complete nasal obstruction from an infection or severe allergies has experienced what it’s like to be without one of our most basic senses: our sense of smell. The many functions of smell In other animals, the sense of smell is absolutely crucial for survival, reproduction, and rearing of young. Although humans can survive without smell, research has shown that losing the sense of smell negatively impacts quality of life, even driving some people toward clinical depression. Just as o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 12, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Eric Holbrook, MD Tags: Allergies Ear, nose, and throat Health Source Type: blogs

Holiday toys for kids: “Back to basics” is best
It’s the holiday season, time for buying toys for the children in our lives. As we do, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages us to think about buying toys that can actually help children as they grow and develop. Play is the work of children. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun; of course play should be fun. But play is at its best when it encourages learning and development, and when it encourages interaction with other people. So many gifts these days are full of bells and whistles and cool electronic gadgets, but don’t really help children (and are often quickly discarded). The AAP th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 11, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Calm for the holidays
Are you heading home for the holidays, hosting relatives, or throwing parties? A strong dose of calm can help you enjoy yourself more and stress less. Here are a few ways to take holiday stress down a notch and invoke your calmest self. Find your calm Breathe deep: When your emotions run high, breathing speeds up, too. Deliberately slowing your breathing relaxes tense muscles, bringing shoulders down from ears, calms roiling emotions, and helps disarm the hormonal cascade within the body that feeds anxiety. Try this: close your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose while counting upward. Hold for a few seconds....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 10, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Francesca Coltrera Tags: Health Mental Health Relationships Stress Source Type: blogs

Gut feelings: How food affects your mood
The human microbiome, or gut environment, is a community of different bacteria that has co-evolved with humans to be beneficial to both a person and the bacteria. Researchers agree that a person’s unique microbiome is created within the first 1,000 days of life, but there are things you can do to alter your gut environment throughout your life. Ultra-processed foods and gut health What we eat, especially foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, affects our gut environment and increases our risk of diseases. Ultra-processed foods contain substances extracted from food (such as sugar and starch)...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 7, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Uma Naidoo, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Digestive Disorders Food as medicine Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Creating recovery-friendly workplaces
People who work in manual labor have higher rates of injury and overdose Our country’s ongoing opioid crisis has many faces, from teenagers on Cape Cod to middle-aged parents in West Virginia. A recent report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides another demographic affected by opioids: people who work in the trade industries, namely construction. The report broke down overdose deaths by industry, and construction workers were involved in almost a quarter of overdose deaths recorded in the state over five years. Farming, forestry, and hunting, along with fishing, are the next most dangerous indu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 6, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD Tags: Addiction Source Type: blogs

Coping with infertility during the holidays: Darkness and light
In my experience, most people dealing with infertility would say that their longing for a child brings sadness year-round. Still, there are times and seasons when the pain intensifies. This may be in spring or early summer when the world is in bloom, winter coats are off and pregnant bellies are out, when greeting card companies and florists ambush airwaves to promote Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Similarly, the winter holidays present an ever-lengthening stretch during which many women and men who are struggling with infertility feel pummeled. Bookended by Thanksgiving and New Year’s, this has become a ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 5, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Health Infertility Source Type: blogs

Safe and effective use of insulin requires proper storage
Insulin is a naturally occurring, glucose-lowering hormone used by many people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. In people with type 1 diabetes, supplemental insulin makes up for the insulin that is not produced by the body. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin if they cannot maintain adequate blood sugar control with other medications. Insulin is manufactured to be identical to the insulin produced by the human pancreas. These synthetic insulins can work from a few hours (rapid-acting insulin) to a whole day (long-acting insulin). They are typically injected via a needle or pen. Guidelines for pr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 4, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elena Toschi, MD Tags: Diabetes Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Navigating tricky relationships during the holidays
Are you counting down the days until you find yourself face-to-face with certain family members or friends who know exactly where your buttons lie and push them, repeatedly? While we all long for an abundance of good cheer, an overflow of ready affection, and easy conversations, handling challenging relationships during the holidays can trip up even the best-intentioned. So, how to navigate the gatherings ahead? Simple tips to help you navigate Here are some simple tips to keep in mind: Prepare. Sometimes we can avoid what we fear by anticipating and accepting what is. Why would Aunt Bertha be any different this year ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - December 3, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melissa Brodrick, MEd Tags: Health Mental Health Relationships Stress Source Type: blogs

Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics can increase the risk of obesity
Antibiotics can be lifesaving, but they can have serious downsides — including increasing the risk of obesity when they are given early in life, according to a recent study. Antibiotics kill bacteria. That can be a very good thing when the bacteria are causing a serious infection. But antibiotics don’t limit themselves to killing infection-causing bacteria; they kill other bacteria in the body, too. And that can be a very bad thing. Our bodies are full of bacteria. These bacteria, part of our microbiome, are important. Along with other micro-organisms in our body, they play a role in how we digest foods, in nor...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 30, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Eat more plants, fewer animals
Science has shown us over and over again that the more meat we eat, the higher our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. Conversely, the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the lower our risk for these diseases, and the lower our body mass index. Why is eating meat bad? High-quality research shows that red meats (like beef, lamb, pork) and processed meats (bacon, sausage, deli meats) are metabolized to toxins that cause damage to our blood vessels and other organs. This toxic process has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. (Want to know more? Read about how these animal proteins harm the body here and here). ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 29, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Picking your skin? Learn four tips to break the habit
If you can’t stop picking your skin, you may have a very common condition called skin picking disorder (SPD). We all pick at a scab or a bump from time to time, but for those with SPD, it can be nearly impossible to control those urges. Apart from the cosmetic impact of recurrent skin lesions and scarring, SPD can lead to serious infections, shame, depression, and anxiety. You may be feeling alone or embarrassed, but you should know that this condition affects at least five million Americans. A diagnosis of SPD, also known as excoriation disorder, is made when there are repeated attempts to stop picking, and the skin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 28, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lisa Zakhary, MD, PhD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Source Type: blogs

Can a low-carbohydrate diet help keep weight off?
For your entire life you have been bombarded with information about which diet is the best to help you lose weight. Like many other people, you might have tried one or even a dozen diets, but it took a bit of trial and error for you to find which diet worked for you. Now, you are on to the hard part. You have finally lost the weight, but how do you keep it off? That is the million dollar question, right? In a new study in BMJ, researchers sought to determine if a low-carbohydrate diet might help mitigate the dreaded weight regain that occurs when a person loses weight. We know that when a person loses weight their energy e...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 27, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS  Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Smoking tied to more aggressive prostate cancer
If you’re a smoker looking for another reason to quit, consider this: in addition to raising your risk of heart and lung disease, as well as cancers of the bladder and kidney, smoking could boost the odds that you will develop aggressive prostate cancer that metastasizes, or spreads through your body. That’s according to research published by an Austrian team in 2018. The evidence connecting tobacco use with prostate cancer (which tends to grow relatively slowly) isn’t as strong as it is for other smoking-related diseases. Researchers first detected the link only after pooling data from 51 studies that en...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Risks and Prevention HPK Source Type: blogs

The new cholesterol guidelines: What you need to know
The new cholesterol guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association are out! These guidelines — last updated in 2013 — have been highly anticipated by the cardiology and broader medical community. They have been approved by a variety of additional professional societies, including the American Diabetes Association. Thus, the majority of physicians are very likely to follow them. So, what exactly is new and what do you need to know? It starts with a healthy lifestyle, with statins for those who need them A healthy diet and regular physical activity are recommended for all age gr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 26, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Deepak Bhatt, MD, MPH Tags: Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

What ’s good for the heart is good for the mind
Right now the world is experiencing an epidemic that is projected to get much, much worse. It’s an epidemic of dementia, affecting 40 million people — and millions more of their caregivers — staggering numbers that will likely triple by 2050. Dementia is a progressive deterioration of brain functioning associated with aging. While there are different causes, the most common — Alzheimer’s and vascular dementias — are now thought to be closely related. How is heart health related to cognitive health? We have long known that the diseases and conditions that clog the arteries of the heart al...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 23, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Food as medicine Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Memory Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

Healthy eating through the holidays
Holiday time is here again! So are the joys and challenges of holiday eating. The big challenge is to have fun at special occasions without jeopardizing some of the healthy practices you have worked on throughout the year. Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday season. Do not arrive hungry to the party! Skipping meals before a holiday party in an effort to save calories for the big party will only make you overeat. Eat a light meal or snack before arriving to the party. A snack or meal that is high in fiber and contains lean protein is ideal because it can help control your appetite and help you avoid overeatin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 20, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Getting your baby to sleep through the night: The good (and maybe not-so-good) news
Getting your baby to sleep through the night: it’s the milestone all parents of infants long for. It’s understandable, given how precious and elusive a full night’s sleep can be for new parents. The quest for a full night of sleep becomes so important that many a book has been written on how to achieve it, and it’s a common topic of conversation among new parents. Those whose babies sleep through the night feel like they have accomplished something important — and those whose babies don’t sleep through the night are often wondering if there is something wrong with their baby or their par...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 19, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Putting a stop to leaky gut
Leaky gut gets blamed for everything from everyday stomach issues to pain to anxiety, yet it is one of the most mysterious ailments to diagnosis and treat. Part of the reason for this medical mystery is because the gut is such a vast and complex system. “Science continues to find new ways that the gut can influence everything from heart health to keeping our brains young,” says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “There is much we know about leaky gut in terms of how it affects people’s health, but there...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 18, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Hormone therapy for depression: Are the risks worth the benefits?
When you think of menopause, you might think of hot flashes and night sweats. But many women also experience symptoms of depression. The risk of depression doubles or even quadruples during the menopausal transition, which has researchers looking for ways to address — or even prevent — the problem. One study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that hormone therapy may help ward off symptoms of peri- and postmenopausal depression in some women. Researchers found that perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women who were treated with hormones were less likely to experience symptoms of depression than women in the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - November 16, 2018 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Menopause Source Type: blogs