Time to redefine normal body temperature?
In this study, researchers analyzed temperature recordings from three periods of time over 157 years: 1860–1940: A mix of armpit and oral temperatures of nearly 24,000 veterans of the Civil War were measured. 1971–1975: Oral temperatures of more than 15,000 people from a large population study (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) were analyzed. 2007–2017: Oral temperatures of more than 150,000 people in another large research project (the Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment) were reviewed. During the nearly 160 years covered by the analysis, the average oral...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

The skinny on freezing fat
There has been a lot of buzz lately about freezing — and no, we don’t mean winter temperatures in Boston. Freezing fat, known medically as cryolipolysis, is one of the hottest trends in noninvasive body sculpting — that is, losing pockets of fat without needles, knives, or real downtime. The basics of body fat Let’s start with the basics. Not all fat is created equal. We have two distinct types of fat in our bodies: subcutaneous fat (the kind that may roll over the waistband of your pants) and visceral fat (the stuff that lines your organs and is associated with diabetes and heart disease). From her...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS Tags: Cosmetic surgery Source Type: blogs

Coping with coronavirus anxiety
Worrying about all the news on the new coronavirus and the illness it causes? Well, that makes good sense. If you’re wondering how to cope with anxious feelings that are surfacing, this blog post can guide you through steps that may be helpful to many people. If you often struggle with anxiety, worries about your health, or obsessive thoughts and actions, you might need additional assistance, as I’ll explain in a later post. Steady yourself around worries about the new coronavirus Knowing how to manage your own anxiety always takes a little thought. Ask and answer these questions: What typically happens to you...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Sharp, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Peanut allergy: A new medicine for children may offer protection
Of all food allergies, which affect between 5% and 8% of US children, peanut allergy is the one most likely to cause anaphylaxis, a serious type of allergic reaction. For a child with a peanut allergy, eating one peanut can literally be fatal. “When you have an allergy,” says Andrew MacGinnitie, MD, PhD, clinical director of the division of immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital, “your body sees the thing you are allergic to as dangerous. So your immune system tries to protect you by causing hives, vomiting, and other symptoms.” The body does this by releasing histamine and other chemicals t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 11, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Allergies Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

The BEEP program: Keep your balance
Balance is a skill you don’t think about until you really need it — like when you lose your footing and have to perform an exotic improv dance to keep from hitting the ground. But don’t wait until your sense of balance fails before you give it proper attention. As we age, balance can sharply decline, often with little warning. An exercise program called BEEP can help. How you keep your balance While keeping proper balance may seem simple, it involves a complex system with many moveable parts. Whenever you move, your eyes and brain process information about your surroundings. Your feet detect changes in th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

The scoop on protein powder
Eating enough protein is not just for athletes or would-be Schwarzenegger types. It is necessary for a healthy immune system and required for organs like your heart, brain, and skin to function properly. The nutrient is also touted for its ability to help control appetite and enhance muscle growth. How much protein you need typically depends on your exercise routine, age, and health. And whether to supplement protein intake with a protein powder has become a common query. A closer look at protein powder To make such supplements, protein is extracted from animal or plant-based sources, which range from cow’s milk and ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Drugs and Supplements Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

How to talk to children about the coronavirus
Every news outlet seems to be talking nonstop about the new coronavirus, which is causing an illness called COVID-19. Many parents understandably are sharing concerns, too — at least among friends and families. Even at school, children are hearing about this new virus and registering that some adults seem worried. Given all the discussion about coronavirus, your children might have heard about it and have questions for you. Below are some tips on how to respond to their questions. A separate post will address tips for talking with teens about the questions they might have. Provide just enough information about the co...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 7, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jacqueline Sperling, PhD Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can stress really make hair (or fur?) turn gray?
It seems like common knowledge or conventional wisdom: stress can turn your hair gray. Whether it’s the kids, your spouse, your job, or something else, people with gray hair have been blaming stress for centuries. The example of Barack Obama is often cited: his hair was quite dark when first elected president, but by the time he’d completed his second term, it was much grayer. Clearly it was the stress of his job, right? Not so fast! As I wrote in a previous post, the notion that stress makes you gray may be largely myth. Certainly, there are factors other than stress that lead to graying, not the least of whic...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 6, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Men's Health Stress Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Surrogacy: Who decides to become a gestational carrier?
Why would a woman decide to carry another woman’s baby? One answer is that there are times in life when a loved one is in need of help. This happens when a sister or a cousin or a close friend has suffered repeated miscarriages, or had an illness or surgery that made pregnancy unlikely. In these instances, it is not unusual for a family member or friend to step forward, saying, “I’ll carry your baby.” But what of the woman who decides that she wants to carry for strangers? What prompts her to seek, usually through an agency, an individual or couple in need of a gestational carrier? Surrogate or gest...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 5, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Fertility Infertility Parenting Source Type: blogs

Can short bouts of running lengthen lives?
Working hard and feeling like you don’t have any time to exercise? Well, the reality is we all have time. If you’re feeling bad about not exercising enough or at all, some exciting data crunching from a recent British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) analysis of research on running and mortality rates could supply the motivation you need. What amount of running is better than no running? An abundance of research supports the health benefits of exercise. In a blog post last year, I wrote about a study in JAMA that took the first look at the effect of various cardiorespiratory fitness levels on longevity. That s...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 4, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marwa A. Ahmed, MD, MS Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Pain and neuromodulation: What ’s all the “buzz” about?
Chronic pain is an enigma for both pain doctors and their patients: difficult to understand (as everyone’s pain is different), challenging to treat effectively, and frustrating to live with. Desperate patients sometimes turn to drastic and irreversible surgical procedures, like amputating nerves to relieve pain, and unfortunately even those procedures may fail to provide the hoped-for results. Fortunately there have been great strides in research related to pain perception and our nervous system’s reaction to various pain treatments, and we’ve been able to develop novel devices that provide many people wi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 3, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Shafik Boyaji, MD Tags: Back Pain Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Cutting down on alcohol helps if you have atrial fibrillation
In medical school, there are lots of cutesy names that help us learn and remember things. “Holiday heart” is one of these — it reminds doctors-in-training that binge drinking alcohol can lead to an episode of atrial fibrillation (afib). The association is a real one; I have met a number of patients who suffered an unfortunate introduction to afib courtesy of a night (or weekend) of heavy alcohol intake. When that happens, we tell patients to avoid future binge drinking, as excessive drinking could cause them to have recurrent episodes of afib. Alcohol: A known risk for afib The association between alcohol...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 2, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Amy Leigh Miller, MD, PhD Tags: Alcohol Heart Health Source Type: blogs

The role of our minds in the avoidance of falls
A few years ago, my grandmother suffered a fall and broke her hip. She has never fully recovered and is now constantly fearful of falling, and has significantly limited her activities to prevent a fall from ever happening again. As a scientist focused on translational research in mobility and falls in older adults, of course I asked her how she fell. She stated that she was standing in the kitchen and reading a recipe when the phone rang. When she turned and started to walk over to the phone, her feet “weren’t in the right spot.” She fell sideways and unfortunately, her hip was unable to absorb the impact...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 28, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Brad Manor, PhD Tags: Bones and joints Caregiving Healthy Aging Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

What ’s new with the Nutrition Facts label?
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) mandated nutrition labeling on most packaged foods. These include canned and frozen foods, breads, cereals, desserts, snacks, beverages, and a variety of other foods that line the aisles of grocery stores. Food labels — officially called Nutrition Facts labels — are intended to help consumers choose healthy foods. It is the FDA’s responsibility to make sure that foods are properly labeled. Over the years there have been many changes to the initial law, and to the label. The newest version of the food label rolled out on January 1, 2020 for larger foo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

As coronavirus spreads, many questions and some answers
The rapid spread of the coronavirus now called COVID-19 has sparked alarm worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency, and many countries are grappling with a rise in confirmed cases. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to be prepared for disruptions to daily life that will be necessary if the coronavirus spreads within communities. Below, we’re responding to a number of questions about COVID-19 raised by Harvard Health Blog readers. We hope to add further questions and update answers as reliable information becomes available. Do...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Todd Ellerin, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

New study compares long-term side effects from different prostate cancer treatments
Prostate cancer therapies are improving over time. But how do the long-term side effects from the various options available today compare? Results from a newly published study are providing some valuable insights. Investigators at Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center spent five years tracking the sexual, bowel, urinary, and hormonal status of nearly 2,000 men after they had been treated for prostate cancer, or monitored with active surveillance (which entails checking the tumor periodically and treating it only if it begins to grow). Cancers in all the men were still confined to the p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad
The dopamine fast, created by California psychiatrist Dr. Cameron Sepah, has very little to do with either fasting or dopamine. As Sepah told the New York Times, “Dopamine is just a mechanism that explains how addictions can become reinforced, and makes for a catchy title. The title’s not to be taken literally.” Unfortunately, with such a snazzy name, who could resist? This is where the misconceptions begin. What’s the thinking behind a dopamine fast? What Sepah intended with his dopamine fast was a method, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, by which we can become less dominated by the unhealthy...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 26, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Health trends Mind body medicine Stress Source Type: blogs

Co-parent adoption: A critical protection for LGBTQ+ families
Every child deserves to be part of a loving family, and establishing a secure legal relationship known as parentage between parents and their children is critical to the well-being of all families. This provides stability and security for children and allows parents to care for their children, including making important medical decisions. For LGBTQ+ families, co-parent adoption ensures that parents have a secure legal relationship to their child. What is co-parent adoption? Co-parent adoption (also called “second parent adoption”) is the legal process of adopting a partner’s biological or legal child, whe...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sabra L. Katz-Wise, PhD Tags: Parenting Relationships Source Type: blogs

Puffing away sadness
Ask a smoker what they get out of cigarettes and they are likely to talk about pleasure, contentment, and an overall good feeling. Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, is a stimulant. Used in low doses like those delivered by combustible cigarettes, stimulants activate the nervous system, resulting in enhanced arousal and alertness. Nicotine binding in the limbic system — the part of the brain that houses the pleasure and reward center — releases dopamine, resulting in feelings of euphoria. These effects combine to give smokers a boost in their mood. In this context, new research from a team at Harvar...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Mental Health Smoking cessation Source Type: blogs

Hands or feet asleep? What to do
We’ve all been there. You awaken in the morning and one of your hands is completely numb. It feels dead, heavy, and simply won’t work. Perhaps there’s some tingling as well. Or, you arise from a long dinner or movie and one of your legs feels that way. Then over a few minutes — maybe you shook your hands, stamped your foot — everything goes back to normal. Until the next time. The first time this happened, it might have been worrisome. Now that you know it’s temporary and happens to everyone, it may not bother you. But did you ever wonder why in the world this happens? Read on! When the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat
Clostridioides (previously Clostridium) difficile (C. diff) is the most common cause of diarrhea among hospitalized patients and the most commonly reported bacteria causing infections in hospitals. In a 2019 report, the CDC referred to C. diff as “an urgent threat.” Who is most at risk? C. diff infection (CDI) occurs more commonly following antibiotic therapy or hospitalization, and among older adults or patients with weakened immune responses. In 2002, an epidemic strain of C. diff emerged, causing more severe disease with inflammation of the colon (colitis) and an increase in deaths. This strain adheres bette...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, DO Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Infectious diseases Prevention Source Type: blogs

Five healthy habits net more healthy years
Are healthy habits worth cultivating? A recent study suggests healthy habits may help people tack on years of life and sidestep serious illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer. After all, if you’re going to gain an extra decade of life on this earth, you want to enjoy it! What did this research focus on? Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at data from more than 73,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) who were followed for 34 years, and more than 38,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) who were followed for 28 years. In a previous s...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 19, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Healthy Eating Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Can light therapies help with bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of both depressed and elevated mood. It typically begins in the late teens to early 20s. During depressive episodes, people experience low mood, loss of self-confidence, hopelessness, and impaired sleep and appetite. Manic episodes are marked by an increase in energy, euphoric or irritable and rapidly changing mood, higher self-confidence, and decreased need for sleep. People may experience a mood episode every few years, or as frequently as several times a year. Bipolar disorder can be treated with medications and psychotherapy. Certain chronotherapies — ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 18, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Liebson, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Complementary and alternative medicine Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Good news for those with type 2 diabetes: Healthy lifestyle matters
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a metabolic disorder of insulin resistance — a reduced sensitivity to the action of insulin — which leads to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. Approximately 12% of American adults have T2D, and more than one-third of Americans have prediabetes, a precursor to T2D. This is a major public health concern, as T2D dramatically increases risk for heart disease, including heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure. The development and progression of T2D is affected by many factors. Some, such as a person’s race/ethnicity, age, and gender cannot be modified. Others, including...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Diabetes Exercise and Fitness Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

What ’s the best way to manage agitation related to dementia?
You notice your loved one becoming more forgetful. She cannot recall her visit with her granddaughters yesterday. She claims she took her medications this morning, yet you find them untouched in her pill case. You wonder how this mild-mannered woman has become so angry, so quickly. She is often frightened now, disoriented, and unpredictable. Yet she still remembers every detail of your wedding day, the names of your four children, and how to play her favorite piano pieces. When you sing together, time temporarily stands still. Your loved one received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Nights are the hardest time for...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 14, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH Tags: Caregiving Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

African American and white men who receive comparable treatments for prostate cancer have similar survival
Last year, we reported on two studies showing that African American men respond at least as well as white men to prostate cancer treatments given in clinical trials. Nationally, African Americans with prostate cancer are more than twice as likely to die of the disease as their white counterparts, and that has fueled speculation that genetic or biological factors put them at greater risk. But according to this new research, the survival difference disappears when men of either race get the same cutting-edge treatments. Now scientists are reporting that African American and white men with prostate cancer live equally as long...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Good for your teeth, bad for your bones?
Regular brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of good oral health. But what if you learned that your toothpaste was good for your teeth, but bad for your bones? That possibility has been raised by a recent study. The cause of this unprecedented finding may be triclosan, an antibacterial agent added to toothpaste to reduce gum infections and improve oral health. However, it may actually be causing more harm than good. Rethinking a popular germ killer Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that’s been around for decades. Not only has it been used in soaps, hand sanitizers, and deodorants, but it’s found its way...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 13, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Dental Health Osteoporosis Source Type: blogs

When is a heavy period too heavy?
It’s common for girls and their parents to wonder if the bleeding with their periods is too often or too much. Especially in the first few years of having a period, any bleeding can feel like too much. Usually, it’s not — but sometimes it is, and it’s important for parents to know what to watch for, and when to call the doctor. In the first couple of years after periods begin, it’s really normal for periods to be irregular — and for some of them to be heavy. At the beginning, periods aren’t associated with ovulation, and the hormones and hormonal patterns that help regulate periods...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 12, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use
Our ability to feel pain and react to it is both a boon and a curse, simultaneously. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.” This means that pain is highly subjective, and it is informed by a mix of past experiences, our current emotional state, and future expectations. Since pain is an emotional and sensory experience it affects our quality of life immensely, and treatment is complex. Chronic pain management with opioids is not ideal Opioids...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 11, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Subramaniam Balachundhar, MD, MPH, FASA Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Mind body medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Skin care shouldn ’t be colorblind
In medicine, we are trained to be colorblind and treat all patients equally, to the best of our ability. The irony is that in dermatology we have to take skin color into account, because the color of the skin affects the presentation of skin conditions. This is important to consider in order to make an accurate diagnosis and weigh the best treatment options. Appearance of skin conditions may vary based on skin color Skin conditions may look different on darker skin than on lighter skin. For example, many rashes, including allergic reactions to medication, appear pink or red on lighter skin. On a person with darker skin, an...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 10, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jennifer Lin, MD Tags: Cosmetic surgery Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

When should I be concerned about ringing in my ears?
What is tinnitus? Tinnitus is a generic term used to describe a ringing or noise in the ears that occurs in the absence of external sound. This is a very common condition that is thought to occur in up to 15% of people. It can occur in one or both ears, and often people will describe the sound as “coming from their head.” There are a variety of descriptions that people use for their tinnitus such as whooshing, ringing, pulsing, and/or buzzing, and the quality of the sound varies by individual. Symptoms of tinnitus can cause great distress While tinnitus can be caused by conditions that require medical attention...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 8, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Naples, MD Tags: Ear, nose, and throat Hearing Loss Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

What ’s in a number? Looking at life expectancy in the US
If you were to sum up the overall health of a nation in one single number, what would that be? At the top of the list, you would likely find average life expectancy — the total number of years, on average, that a person in a country can expect to live. Wars, famine, and economic crises are expected to lower life expectancy. Breakthroughs in science, strong economies, and behaviors like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding tobacco typically raise average life expectancy. An amazing rise, a surprising fall Between 1959 and 2014, the United States experienced an unprecedented increase in life expectancy, whic...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 7, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Health Health care disparities Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

With a little planning, vegan diets can be a healthful choice
Recently there has been much discussion and many questions about vegan diets. Are vegan diets — which exclude meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy — healthful? Do they provide complete nutrition? Should I try one? Will it help me lose weight? Many people around the world eat plant-based diets for a variety of reasons, some because meat is not readily available or affordable, others because of religious convictions or concerns about animal welfare. Health has become another reason people are moving to plant-based diets. And research supports the idea that plant-based diets, including vegan diets, provide heal...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 6, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Coronavirus: What parents should know and do
As a parent, you can’t help but worry about the safety of your children. So it’s natural that as stories about the novel coronavirus that started in China flood the news, parents worry about whether their children could be at risk. We are still learning about this new virus; there is much we do not know yet about how it spreads, how serious it can be, or how to treat it. The fact that so much is unknown is a big part of what makes it frightening. But there are things we do know — about this virus and other similar viruses — that can help us keep our children safe and well. All of the advice below as...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 5, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Infectious diseases Parenting Source Type: blogs

Infertility the second time around
Most anyone who has struggled with secondary infertility knows that it is an incredibly lonely experience. You may be blessed with one or two children — possibly more — but struggling to expand or complete your family. Surrounded by families with young children, you find yourself alone and in pain. If you are a veteran of primary infertility, you may remember strategies you developed for shielding yourself from the pregnancies of others. Not so this second time around: pregnant women and moms with babies and toddlers surround you at preschool. If you had your first child with ease and are new to infertility, yo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 4, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Health Infertility Men's Health Parenting Relationships Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Newer skin cancer treatments improve prognosis for those with cutaneous melanoma
Cutaneous melanoma, also called malignant melanoma, is the type of skin cancer that is most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Though melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers, it is responsible for more than 90% of skin cancer-related deaths. But thanks to developments in skin cancer treatment (mostly in the last decade), patients with melanoma have much better chances of living longer. What is a melanoma? Melanoma involves the uncontrolled growth of a type of cell known as a melanocyte. One of the most important functions of a normal melanocyte is to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ult...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 3, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dominic Wu, MD Tags: Cancer Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus
News about a deadly virus that appeared in Wuhan, China in December (now called 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV) is everywhere lately. And as the number of cases rises, it’s understandable if you’re wondering how likely it is that you or a loved one will become ill. And quite likely, you’re also wondering how to prevent this. So, where should you turn for the latest information on a rapidly changing situation? It’s hard to beat the convenience of the internet, and we know there’s a lot of useful and reliable information online. But there’s also a lot of misinformation. The trick is ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - February 1, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Cold and Flu Emergency Planning Health Infectious diseases Travel health Source Type: blogs

Hearing loss may affect brain health
Hearing is a complex sense that provides us with awareness of environmental sounds and, more importantly, the ability to communicate. The ear is the organ responsible for perceiving sound, but it may not be so obvious that the brain is responsible for processing the sound. It is necessary that both organs work properly for hearing to occur. The link between hearing loss and cognition is not fully understood In recent years, there has been extensive research examining how age-related hearing loss and brain function (cognition) are associated. There are some general concepts that might contribute to the association between h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 31, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: James Naples, MD Tags: Ear, nose, and throat Healthy Aging Hearing Loss Source Type: blogs

Food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity: What ’s the difference, and why does it matter?
Chances are that you or someone you know has experienced unpleasant symptoms after a meal or snack. Maybe you experienced some degree of sneezing, wheezing, rashes, brain fog, joint pain, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, or another symptom. This may have led you to believe you have a food allergy — and maybe you do. But it’s also possible that you have a food intolerance, celiac disease, or a food sensitivity. This is important, because some of the reactions can range from just annoying to life-threatening. Food intolerances Food intolerance refers mostly to the inability to process or digest certain foods. The most...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 30, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Marcelo Campos, MD Tags: Allergies Digestive Disorders Source Type: blogs

Are you getting enough sleep … or too much? Sleep and stroke risk
This study found an association between stroke risk and longer sleep, longer midday napping, or poor sleep quality. But an association is not the same as causation. Rather than longer sleep duration causing strokes, there are other possible explanations for the findings. For example, people who sleep more at night or nap more during the day may have other risk factors for stroke, such as: A higher incidence of depression. Excessive sleeping or poor sleep quality may be symptoms of depression, and prior studies have noted higher stroke rates among depressed individuals. A more sedentary lifestyle. Those who are not active ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 29, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Hypertension and Stroke Sleep Source Type: blogs

How safe is exercise during pregnancy?
Two lines on a home pregnancy test, a flickering heartbeat on ultrasound, and suddenly your world has changed: you’re pregnant! Regardless of where this new path takes you, you may start to examine your daily decisions in a new way as you discover an intense drive to protect the growing baby inside you. Even your exercise routines may come under scrutiny, particularly if late-night Googling has you second-guessing everything that you believed you knew. Just how safe is exercise during pregnancy? The short answer? Exercise during pregnancy is not only safe, it’s encouraged. An overriding principle for pregnancy ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 28, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Reiff, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Beyond heart health: Could your statin help prevent liver cancer?
Liver cancer is hard to treat. It’s a top-five cause of cancer-related death worldwide and a growing cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Since liver cancer is often found at a late stage, when treatment has limited benefit, there has been increasing interest in prevention. That’s where statin medications might come in. Liver cancer is usually caused by chronic liver disease, so an important way to prevent liver cancer is to treat the underlying trigger. For example, curing hepatitis C infection — an important cause of chronic liver disease — reduces the risk of liver cancer. However...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 27, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Irun Bhan, MD Tags: Cancer Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

The new coronavirus: What we do — and don’t — know
A rapidly evolving health story broke in late December when a novel illness originating in Wuhan, China made the news. Reports of the number of infected people swiftly rose, and isolated cases of this new coronavirus — dubbed 2019-nCoV by scientists — have appeared in several countries due to international travel. At this writing, almost 1,300 confirmed cases and over 40 deaths have occurred in China, according to an article in the New York Times. Fortunately, public health officials in many countries, including the US, have put measures in place to help prevent further spread of the virus. These measures inclu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 25, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Todd Ellerin, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Think hard before shaming children
As a parent, it’s easy to slip into shaming your child. It can happen so easily, as you blurt out what you are thinking: “Do you really want to go out looking like that?” “You let your teammates down during that game.” “Why can’t you get good grades like your sister?” “Why do you hang out at home all the time instead of going out like other kids?” “Why are you crying? It’s not that bad.” As we blurt out such things, we usually don’t think of them as shaming. We think of them as something that might help our child recognize a problem —...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 24, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

The hype on hyaluronic acid
As dermatologists, we often hear questions from patients about ingredients in beauty and skincare products. Recently, hyaluronic acid (HA) has been hitting the shelves in a variety of products, from serums and moisturizers to sheet masks, night creams, and lip products. So what is HA? What benefits does it offer? And what are the most effective ways of using this ingredient? What is hyaluronic acid? HA is a humectant — a substance that retains moisture — and it is capable of binding over one thousand times its weight in water. This substance is naturally found in many areas of the human body, including the skin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 23, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects?
You’ve done it! You’ve taken that last birth control pill, removed your IUD, or stopped using your contraceptive method of choice. You’ve made the decision to try to conceive a pregnancy, and while this is an exciting time in your life, it can also feel overwhelming. There is so much advice around fertility and pregnancy, and sifting through it all just isn’t possible. For many mothers, their goals crystallize around ensuring that their baby is healthy. Evidence-based steps that may prevent birth defects January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, so we want to focus on things you can do to reduce th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 22, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Fertility Vaccines Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Is your cell phone dangerous to your health?
This study may be the first to provide details regarding the relationship between cell phone use and head and neck injuries. However, it had some significant limitations. Keep in mind that the study focused on head and neck injuries. People with multiple injuries or more serious injuries (such as a heart attack or an ankle fracture) might not have been included in the count. Individuals who sought care at their doctor’s office or urgent care centers would also be excluded from this study. In addition, information about the circumstances of an injury can be incomplete. Embarrassment or concerns about legal liability m...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 21, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go?
In this study, there was no increased risk of adverse outcomes (including muscle aches, liver dysfunction, new onset of diabetes, cancer, and bleeding strokes), even when LDL was lowered to as low as 20 mg/dL. Although statin medications themselves have been linked to side effects, especially at high doses, it appears that extremely low LDL concentrations are not responsible for side effects. In other words, lowering LDL beyond our previous target of 70 mg/dL appears to be not only safe but beneficial, in patients with CVD. The post LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog. (Sourc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 20, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help?
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are extremely common, especially in women after menopause. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, sleep disturbance varies from 16% to 42% before menopause, from 39% to 47% during perimenopause, and from 35% to 60% after menopause. Insomnia is a serious medical problem defined by frequent difficulty falling or staying asleep that impacts a person’s life in a negative way. Hormone changes around menopause can lead to sleep problems for many reasons, including changing sleep requirements, increased irritability, and hot flashes. What menopausal women eat could have...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 17, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Fatigue Food as medicine Healthy Eating Menopause Nutrition Sleep Source Type: blogs

Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss
Over 30 million people in the United States live with diabetes, and approximately 7.7 million people have diabetic retinopathy, making it the most common cause of vision loss in working-aged adults. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy has increased significantly over the past 20 years, due to the rise in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes. How does diabetes affect the retina? The retina is the light-sensing component located in the back of the eye. It is composed of blood vessels, nerve cells (neurons), and specialized cells called photoreceptors that are involved in directly sensing light. The ability of the ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - January 16, 2020 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Leo Kim, MD, PhD Tags: Diabetes Eye Health Source Type: blogs