10 foods that may impact your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
Could just 10 foods substantially impact your risk of dying from a cardiometabolic disease (CMD) like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke? Maybe. A study published in JAMA provides some insight into the degree to which 10 specific foods and nutrients affect the risk of dying from CMD. The study found that in 2012, eating suboptimal levels of 10 foods or nutrients — too much of some and not enough of others — was associated with more than 45% of deaths due to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 10 foods associated with nearly half of CMD deaths The researchers developed a risk assessment model that...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Diabetes Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Nutrition Source Type: blogs

PrEP prevents HIV — so why aren’t more people taking it?
Each year, 1.7 million people globally are newly infected with HIV — more than 38,000 in the United States alone. This year, President Trump announced a 10-year initiative aimed at reducing new HIV infections in the US, and ultimately ending an epidemic that has plagued this country, and the world, since HIV first emerged in the early 1980s. A key part of that plan is pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a daily medication to help prevent HIV that is recommended for people at high risk. Recently, the FDA approved a new formulation of PrEP for many — but not all — of those at risk. What is PrEP and who should...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert Goldstein, MD, PhD Tags: Health HIV Infectious diseases Men's Health Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Chronic Lyme arthritis: A mystery solved?
In 1975, researchers from Yale investigated an epidemic of 51 patients with arthritis who lived near the woodsy town of Lyme, Connecticut. The most common symptom was recurrent attacks of knee swelling. A few had pain in other joints, such as the wrist or ankle. Many had fever, fatigue, and headache. Some remembered a round skin rash before the onset of knee swelling. We now know that Lyme disease is an infection acquired from tick bites, caused by a spiral bacterium named Borrelia burgdorferi. After a tick bite, Borrelia bacteria wriggle through the skin away from the bite site. This leads to a circular red rash, known as...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

Study supports benefit of statin use for older adults
In this study, the most common reason that patients or their doctors stopped statins was the development of advanced cancer or other major illness. In my practice, I have also cared for many patients who have stopped taking statins or who express reluctance to take statins due to side effects. The most common side effect is muscle ache (typically tenderness or soreness of the large muscle groups, such as the biceps and thighs), which affects about 20% of statin takers and reverses when the statin is discontinued. There is also a slightly increased risk of diabetes with long-term statin use and, very rarely, liver problems....
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dara K. Lee Lewis, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Healthy Aging Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Dense breasts on a mammogram? What to know and do
You’re staring at a letter from your mammography facility. Your breast exam was normal, great. But then you see a note on the bottom: you have high breast density, which could put you at higher risk for breast cancer in the future. Now what? “The finding of dense breasts on a mammogram can be stressful and confusing for patients,” says Dr. Toni Golen, acting editor in chief of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. It’s information that may concern them, but they don’t know what to do about it. What is breast density? Breasts are composed of: lobules, which produce milk ducts, tubes that carry m...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - October 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Breast Cancer Health Tests and procedures Women's Health Source Type: blogs

If you have migraines, put down your coffee and read this
During medical school, a neurologist taught me that the number one cause of headaches in the US was coffee. That was news to me! But it made more sense when he clarified that he meant lack of coffee. His point was that for people who regularly drink coffee, missing an early morning cup, or even just having your first cup later than usual, can trigger a caffeine withdrawal headache. And considering how many daily coffee drinkers there are (an estimated 158 million in the US alone), it’s likely that coffee withdrawal is among the most common causes of headaches. Later in my neurology rotation, I learned that caffeine i...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Headache Health Source Type: blogs

Popular heartburn drug ranitidine (Zantac) recalled: What you need to know and do
If you or a family member take ranitidine (Zantac) to relieve heartburn, you may have heard that the FDA has found a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) in it. The story is unfolding quickly and many details remain murky. Here is what we know so far and what you should do. What do we know so far? On September 13, 2019, the FDA announced that preliminary tests found low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine, a heartburn medication used by millions of Americans. This week, the drug companies Novartis (through its generic division, Sandoz) and Apotex announced that they were recalli...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Joshua Gagne, PharmD, ScD Tags: Digestive Disorders Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Popular heartburn drug ranitidine recalled: What you need to know and do
If you or a family member take ranitidine (Zantac) to relieve heartburn, you may have heard that the FDA has found a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer) in it. The story is unfolding quickly and many details remain murky. Here is what we know so far and what you should do. What do we know so far? On September 13, 2019, the FDA announced that preliminary tests found low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine, a heartburn medication used by millions of Americans. This week, the drug companies Novartis (through its generic division, Sandoz) and Apotex announced that they were recalli...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Joshua Gagne, PharmD, ScD Tags: Digestive Disorders Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Is there a test for Alzheimer ’s disease?
After spending 30 minutes hunting for your car in a parking lot, or getting lost on a familiar route, have you ever considered asking your doctor for a blood test or brain scan to find out if you have Alzheimer’s disease? A number of factors contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. By definition, this form of dementia involves the buildup of a protein in brain called beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid forms plaques that disrupt communication between brain cells, and ultimately destroys them. For this reason, tests for Alzheimer’s disease focus on beta-amyloid. Blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease are being develop...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Healthy Aging Memory Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Vitiligo: More than skin deep
Vitiligo (pronounced vit-uh-LIE-go) is a medical condition in which patches of skin lose their color. This occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for making skin pigment, are destroyed. Vitiligo can affect any part of the body, and it can occur in people of any age, ethnicity, or sex. Affecting approximately 1% of the population, vitiligo can be an emotionally and socially devastating disease. Particularly frustrating to many is its unpredictable progression, which can be slow or rapid. Thus far, there is no cure for vitiligo. But new hope is on the horizon, thanks to recent research that is improving our understan...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Autoimmune diseases Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

What donor offspring seek when they do DNA testing
I wrote previously about parents who fear that their donor-conceived children might uncover long-held secrets through DNA testing. Many were unsettled by Dani Shapiro’s memoir Inheritance, which told of how a DNA test done for no particular reason dismantled a family story. Now let’s consider reasons why some people who know they were donor-conceived might pursue DNA testing. Why might people who were donor-conceived seek DNA testing? Donor-conceived adults who embark upon DNA testing may, like Shapiro, stumble upon information accidentally. Their experience with DNA testing is not explored in this post, which ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Infertility Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Weekend catch-up sleep won ’t fix the effects of sleep deprivation on your waistline
Sleeping in late on a Saturday sounds delicious, right? However, as with many delicious things, there may be a cost to your health and waistline. Catching up on sleep on the weekend can almost feel like the norm these days. With increasingly full schedules and competing demands, sleep is often sacrificed during the busy workweek. As the week comes to an end, many people look to the less structured weekend to cram in what couldn’t be done during the week, including sleep. In sleep clinic, I now ask “When do you get up on work (or school) days?” and “What about bedtime and wakeup time on days off?&rdq...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine Dudley, MD, MPH Tags: Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Fatigue Sleep Source Type: blogs

Intensive blood sugar control doesn ’t have lasting cardiovascular benefits for those with diabetes
In 2009, the New England Journal of Medicine published results from the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial (VADT). The study found that intensive glucose (blood sugar) control in older men with longstanding type 2 diabetes did not significantly reduce their risk of major cardiovascular (CV) events, including heart attack, stroke, and death from CV causes, compared with standard blood sugar control. Researchers recently reported 15-year follow-up results from VADT. They found that intensive blood sugar control did not exert any “legacy effect”: the intensive blood sugar control group did not enjoy CV benefits 15 ye...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Medha Munshi, MD Tags: Diabetes Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Adult acne: Understanding underlying causes and banishing breakouts
“I’m not a teenager anymore, why do I still have acne?!” This is a question we hear from patients on a daily basis. The truth is, it is quite common to see acne persist into adulthood. Although acne is commonly thought of as a problem of adolescence, it can occur in people of all ages. Adult acne has many similarities to adolescent acne with regard to both causes and treatments. But there are some unique qualities to adult acne as well. What causes adult acne? Adult acne, or post-adolescent acne, is acne that occurs after age 25. For the most part, the same factors that cause acne in adolescents are at pl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Health Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Common hormonal treatments linked to abnormal heart rhythms and sudden death in men being treated for prostate cancer
Treatments for advanced prostate cancer that suppress testosterone, a hormone (also called an androgen) that drives the malignant cells to grow and spread, are collectively referred to as androgen deprivation therapies, or ADT. These therapies can significantly extend lifespans in men who have the disease, but they also have a range of challenging side effects. In 2004, Dr. Marc Garnick, Gorman Brothers Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and editor in chief of HarvardProstateKnowledge.org, reported that in some men, an ADT drug called aberelix lengthens the time it tak...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Men's Health Prostate Health Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What you should know about direct-to-consumer ads
If you’re like most people, you’ve seen a ton of direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads in recent years. They’re all over television, in magazines, online, on billboards, and slapped on the sides of buses, promoting treatments for arthritis, cancer, heartburn, psoriasis, flagging memory — and more. The deluge of drug ads can be overwhelming. Worse, the information is often incomplete, biased, or confusing. That’s why we’re launching the Harvard Health Ad Watch series to highlight some benefits and problems with health product advertisements. We’ll focus on the evidence behind the ads an...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Children's Health Drugs and Supplements Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

New medication advances treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps
Chronic rhinosinusitis is a long-lasting medical condition, usually caused by infection or exposure to irritants, such as allergies, that affects one in seven American adults. Symptoms include nasal obstruction, nasal congestion, nasal drainage, loss of smell and taste, and facial pain and pressure. Some people with chronic rhinosinusitis also develop additional symptoms, such as asthma and nasal polyps, that are exacerbated by underlying allergies. A nasal polyp is a noncancerous tumor that grows from the lining of the nose or sinuses and affects the drainage system of the sinuses. While chronic rhinosinusitis is not a li...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alice Maxfield, MD Tags: Allergies Cold and Flu Drugs and Supplements Ear, nose, and throat Health Source Type: blogs

Does Botox reduce the frequency of chronic migraine?
Doesn’t it seem like Botox is showing up everywhere as a medical treatment? Botox is a brand of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), a protein substance originally derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In its original form it was the toxin responsible for botulism, the paralyzing illness often caused by eating contaminated food. BoNT is now used to treat a number of medical conditions including muscle spasms, excessive sweating, overactive bladder, and some eye muscle conditions. However, one of its most common uses is in the preventive treatment of chronic migraine. Chronic migraine, defined as headache occurrin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Paul Rizzoli, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Headache Source Type: blogs

Want to travel back in time? Use episodic memory
You can picture the long-ago scene perfectly: The waiter opens your bottle of champagne with the familiar — yet always startling — pop. The bubbles tickle your nose as you sniff the effervescent liquid. You raise your glass as you look into the eyes of your spouse. You see pupils dilate as those eyes look at you in return. “Happy anniversary,” you say, “to the love of my life.” This is episodic memory in action. Episodic memory allows you to mentally time-travel back to an episode of your life and relive it in vivid detail. You also use episodic memory to remember the name of someone you...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

Sleep driving and other unusual practices during sleep
Most people have talked or walked during sleep at some time in our lives. However, some people exhibit more unusual complex behaviors while asleep, including eating and driving. These types of behaviors, called parasomnias, come about when parts of our brain are asleep and other parts awake at the same time. Parasomnias, while generally considered normal in a healthy child, can be a cause for concern when they develop in adults. Earlier this year the FDA issued a “black box” warning for the sleep medications eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem, given reports of sleep behaviors that resulted in injuries from fal...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Suzanne Bertisch, MD, MPH Tags: Fatigue Sleep Source Type: blogs

How racism harms children
Racism hurts children, in real and fundamental ways. It hurts not just their health, but their chances for a good, successful life. That’s the bottom line message of a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It is a call to action for all of us. If we care about the health and future of all of our children, it says, we need to take real steps to end racism — and to help and support those who are affected by it. Racism informs our actions when we structure opportunities for and assign value to people based on our interpretation of how they look. Biologically we are truly just one race...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Health care disparities Mental Health Parenting Stress Source Type: blogs

Your risk of dementia: Do lifestyle and genetics matter?
Globally, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are a major burden on individuals and communities. To make matters worse, there are few treatments to combat these complex illnesses. Even the causes of dementia are widely debated. Sadly, clinical trials for drugs to stop or even slow its progress have come up short. Taking a different tack, some experts hope to intervene before people are diagnosed with dementia by encouraging lifestyle changes. What is dementia and what makes it so complex? Dementia describes groups of specific diseases characterized by symptoms such as memory loss. The most common type of ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Chirag Patel, PhD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Genes Medical Research Memory Source Type: blogs

Psychotherapy leads in treating post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common, often debilitating mental health condition that occurs in some people who have experienced trauma. It can have a negative impact on mood, mimicking depression, and is characterized by petrifying episodes in which affected people re-experience trauma. New research suggests psychotherapy may provide a long-lasting reduction of distressing symptoms. Over the course of a lifetime, many people directly experience or witness trauma, such as sexual assault, violence, or natural disasters. Experts estimate that 10% to 20% of these people will experience acute (short-term) PTSD. So...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam P. Stern, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Why are diabetes-related complications on the rise?
Diabetes has grown to become one of the most important public health concerns of our time. A review by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that the number of affected people has quadrupled in the last three decades. Type 2 diabetes (T2D), a type of diabetes traditionally occurring in adults and associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, is now the ninth leading cause of death worldwide. It therefore comes as no surprise that this rapidly emerging epidemic is giving rise to a profusion of diabetes-related complications. What are the usual diabetes-related complications? As diabetes is a systemic ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: George King, MD Tags: Diabetes Health Source Type: blogs

Save the trees, prevent the sneeze
When I worked at Greenpeace for five years before I attended medical school, a popular slogan was, “think globally, act locally.” As I write this blog about climate change and hay fever, I wonder if wiping off my computer that I’ve just sneezed all over due to my seasonal allergies counts as abiding by this aphorism? (Can you clean a computer screen with a tissue?) Come to think of it, my allergies do seem to be worse in recent years. So do those of my patients. It seems as if I’m prescribing nasal steroids and antihistamines, recommending over-the-counter eye drops, and discussing ways to avoid all...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Allergies Environmental health Source Type: blogs

Feeling gassy — is it ever a cause for concern?
Everyone does it, but no one talks about it. No, not that topic — the fact that we pass gas every day. In fact, the average person produces between 1/2 and 1 liter of gas daily and passes gas about 10 to 20 times. Annoying? Well, sometimes. Embarrassing? Possibly. But is excess gas ever a cause for concern? A healthy digestive system Intestinal gas is a normal part of digestion. “While people may not like it when they do it, especially at inappropriate times, it’s just a sign of a regular, healthy digestive system at work,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Digestive Disorders Healthy Aging Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers
(This post has been updated with relevant recent information.) The United States was declared free from ongoing measles transmission in 2000. But we may be at risk for joining the UK Greece, Albania, and the Czech Republic, four countries recently stripped of measles elimination status by the World Health Organization. Since the beginning of 2019, more than 1,234 measles cases have been reported in 31 states, with active outbreaks in upstate New York and El Paso, Texas. New York has just declared the end of its yearlong outbreak, which required a massive public health response to control. Minnesota had a major measles outb...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Travel health Source Type: blogs

Leg pain when you walk? Don ’t ignore it
Walking is often touted as a perfect exercise to improve multiple aspects of health. But what if walking causes leg pain? Many people shrug off leg pain when they walk as a normal part of aging. In some cases, though, it’s the sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can put heart and brain health at risk. While PAD doesn’t usually run in families, it’s more likely to occur as people age, or among people who smoke or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. What causes leg pain if you have PAD? People with PAD have fatty deposits in arteries outside the heart — most often in th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Exercise and Fitness Healthy Aging Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers
The United States was declared free from ongoing measles transmission in 2000. But we may be at risk for joining the U.K, Greece, Albania, and the Czech Republic, four countries recently stripped of measles elimination status by the World Health Organization. Since the beginning of 2019, more than 1,234 measles cases have been reported in 31 states, with active outbreaks in upstate New York and El Paso, Texas. New York has just declared the end of its yearlong outbreak, which required a massive public health response to control. Minnesota had a major measles outbreak in 2017. In 2015, 125 cases of measles occurred in ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Health Infectious diseases Prevention Travel health Source Type: blogs

A new drug for low sexual desire in women: Bremelanotide
Women who feel distressed by a lack of sexual desire may have some help on the way. Recently the FDA approved bremelanotide (Vyleesi), a new medication for premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). HSDD is a term coined to describe low sexual desire without a clear cause. So, women who might like to try this new drug need to know that it is not intended to help in situations where desire diminishes due to a medical or psychiatric illness interpersonal or relationship problems side effects from another treatment or medication. What does research tell us? The physiology of sexual arousal and d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Toni Golen, MD Tags: Health Relationships Sex Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don ’t) know
The rising popularity of vaping has been dramatic, especially among teenagers. According to a recent study, about 37% of high school seniors reported vaping in 2018, up from 28% the year before. An estimated 2.1 million middle school and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2017; that number jumped to 3.6 million in 2018. Certainly, age restrictions — it’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 21 (18 or 19 in some states) — aren’t preventing use among teens and young adults. And nearly seven million adults 18 or older use e-cigarettes, according to a 2017 survey by the CDC. E-c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Addiction Adolescent health Lung disease Men's Health Smoking cessation Women's Health Source Type: blogs

New donor screening protocols for clinical trials involving fecal microbiota transplantation
Back in May, I wrote a blog post about fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), or stool transplantation. FMT is considered standard-of-care therapy to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. In this procedure, stool from a healthy donor is placed into the gut of a patient, usually via colonoscopy, to restore helpful bacteria that help protect against recurrent C. diff infection (rCDI). An important event occurred after my initial post. On June 13, 2019, the FDA issued a safety alert concerning the risk of transmission of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO) through FMT. MDROs are bacteria that are resi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jessica Allegretti, MD, MPH Tags: Health Infectious diseases Safety Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

Avoiding nuts and seeds for better gut health? You shouldn ’t
Nuts and seeds are important components of a healthy diet. But if you have diverticula — little pouchlike structures that sometimes form in the muscular wall of the colon and bulge outward — you may worry about nuts or seeds getting stuck in those little pockets, which can cause a painful infection called diverticulitis. Take heart. While it was once believed that nut and seed consumption could lead to diverticulitis, the link is unproven. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber, which is important for gut health and keeping you regular. How much fiber do you need daily? If you&rsq...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - September 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Digestive Disorders Healthy Aging Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Driving for teens with ADHD: What parents need to know
For all parents, it’s a scary time when their teen starts to drive. For parents of teens with ADHD, it can be — and should be — even scarier. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that can cause problems with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These are not problems you want to have when you are driving. What does research tell us about ADHD in teens and driving? In a 2019 study published in Pediatrics, researchers looked at information about accidents, violations, and suspensions over the first four years of licensure for about 15,000 adolescent drivers. About 2,000 of...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Brain and cognitive health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Simple ways to wake up your workout
Going to the gym regularly seems to be an exceptional act. Three 45-minute workouts are just a tick under the federal government’s recommendation of 150 weekly minutes of moderate activity. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than three-quarters of United States adults don’t reach that threshold. But let’s say you’ve established a fitness habit. The next challenge is what do with your time. Regardless of how solid your initial program is, eventually a sameness creeps in: the same exercises, same order, same weight — same routine overall. The body and mind resp...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Stress-eating: Five strategies to slow down
Weight gain has many underlying causes but one of the most common is something we all experience: stress. Whether it’s the, mild temporary kind caused by a traffic jam or major and chronic, triggered by a traumatic life event — stress is no friend to your waistline. It can set off physical and emotional changes that drive you to eat more, crave less nutritious, fattening comfort foods — and even gain weight much more easily. Stress-eating and cortisol “Stress drives up levels of a hormone called cortisol in the blood,” says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Nutrition Stress Source Type: blogs

How early can you — and should you — diagnose autism?
Autism is common. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of every 59 children has been diagnosed with autism. That’s a marked rise from 2000, when only 1 in 150 children had been diagnosed with autism. There is a lot we don’t know about autism, such as exactly what causes it or why it is becoming more common. But one thing we do know is that the earlier we start treating it, the better. Communication and social skills are built very early. We have our best chance of improving things if we work within that natural window. That’s why there has been...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

When it comes to cholesterol levels, white meat may be no better than red meat — and plant-based protein beats both
This study looked at plant-based protein sources, and plant-based diets can provide all the necessary protein for optimal health. Here’s a look at the amount of protein contained in a variety of plant-based foods. Protein content in plant-based foods Food Serving size Protein (grams) Calories Lentils 1/2 cup 9 115 Black beans 1/2 cup 8 114 Chickpeas 1/2 cup 7 135 Kidney beans 1/2 cup 8 113 Black eyed peas 1/2 cup 7 112 Pinto beans 1/2 cup 7 117 Soybeans 1/2 cup 14 150 Tofu 1/2 cup 10 183 Nuts 1/2 cup 5–7 160–200 Peanut butter 2 tablespoons 8 190 Flaxseeds 3 tablespoons 5 150 ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Talking to your doctor about your LGBTQ+ sex life
Generally speaking, discussing what happens in our bedrooms outside of the bedroom can be anxiety-provoking. Let’s try to make your doctor’s office an exception. Why is this important? People in the LGBTQ+ community contend not only with a full range of health needs, but also with environments that may lead to unique mental and physical health challenges. Whether or not you have come out in general, doing so with your doctor may prove critical in managing your health. Sexual experiences, with their impact on identity, varied emotional significance, and disease risk, are a keystone for helping your doctor unders...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Cecil R. Webster, Jr., MD Tags: Men's Health Sex Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Rising temperatures? How to avoid heat-related illnesses and deaths
In Boston, we believe warmer is better. Our cravings for warmth are formed in the cold, dark winter nights when the prospect of summer seems impossibly remote. But with temperatures reaching 100°F in July, our winter dreams are becoming a nightmare. And it’s not just Boston. More than half of all Americans endured unsafe heat conditions during July, which was the hottest July ever recorded in US history, according to the Washington Post. Europe fared no better; sweltering temperatures broke records in more than a dozen countries in June (this was the hottest June ever in Europe) and July. Not surprisingly, heat-r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH Tags: Asthma Children's Health Emergency Planning Environmental health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Why do you need a primary care physician?
Staying healthy is best done with expert help. We all need medical care at some point. And if chronic illness strikes, it requires the guidance of someone with the ability to make diagnoses and balance treatments that are often aimed at different organ systems. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are generalists who see adult patients for common ailments including respiratory infections, headaches, back pain, and urinary infections. They also manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression. In addition, PCPs have expertise in managing multiple treatments, medicati...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Gonzalez, MD Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Teens and confidentiality
When my primary care patients reach high school age, or sometimes before, I kick their parents out of the exam room. I don’t do it right at the beginning of the visit. I meet with them both first, to see what the parents are worried about (teens don’t always tell me), and to get updated on what is going on with the family (teens don’t always know). Then I ask the parents to leave. I say that at their child’s age, I like to have some time alone with them. I have a standard speech I give the teen. I say, “Anything you tell me is confidential, and your parent won’t be able to read the note ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Anxiety and Depression Mental Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers?
Plant-based burgers are not a novel concept. But new products designed to taste like meat are now being marketed to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger are two such options. Eating these burgers is touted as a strategy to save the earth, casting meat as a prehistoric concept. Both brands also offer up their products as nutritious alternatives to animal protein. But how do they stack up? It turns out the answer may depend on whether your priorities lie with your personal health or the health of the planet. The good news: Meatless burgers are a good source of protein, vi...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

I ’m in pain, so why is my doctor suggesting a psychologist?
Pain makes us human. It is a bell, fine-tuned by evolution, that often rings in moments necessary for our survival. Because of pain, we can receive warnings that trigger the reflexes to escape potential danger. But what happens when that bell continues to ring? How do we respond to a signal when it interferes with the other elements that make us human? Pain that lasts longer than six months is considered chronic, and it may not go away. With chronic pain, the bell’s ongoing signal gets your nervous system wound up and increases its reactivity to incoming messages. This can be quite distressing and anxiety-provoking. ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Salim Zerriny, MD Tags: Back Pain Mind body medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Do employee wellness programs actually work?
It seems like a question that’s not worth asking. If you offer employees wellness programs such as fitness centers, nutrition counselling, and stress reduction, and you charge little or nothing — or even offer financial incentives — surely it will improve the participants’ health. And surely the employer would see a return for investing in these programs, in improved worker productivity and decreased absenteeism. What does the research say? And yet that’s not what researchers reported in the April 2019 edition of JAMA. They analyzed data from nearly 160 worksites employing nearly 33,000 people...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Men's Health Women's Health Workplace health Source Type: blogs

Popular drugs used for treating enlarged prostates associated with high-grade prostate cancer
If a man has an enlarged prostate, there’s a good chance he’ll be treated with a type of drug called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5-ARI). These drugs shrink the gland to improve urinary flow, and the approved forms used for treating enlarged prostates come in two varieties: Proscar (finasteride) and Avodart (dutasteride). However, a side effect of 5-ARI inhibitor treatment is that it suppresses blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) by about 50%. Doctors measure PSA during prostate cancer screening, and if a man on 5-ARI therapy winds up with results that are artificially low, then he might be falsel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: BPH Health Prostate Knowledge Screening HPK Source Type: blogs

Is there a role for surgery in treating Hashimoto ’s thyroiditis?
This study raises the possibility of a role for surgery for patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis who continue to feel poorly despite optimal treatment with thyroid hormone. However, the study, while well done, is a relatively small one. We need longer-term follow up and confirmation with additional studies done on diverse populations. It’s also important to consider that thyroid surgery in patients with advanced Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is difficult. Rates of complications, including injury to the laryngeal nerve (which controls voice) and the parathyroid glands (which maintain normal blood calcium levels...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeffrey Garber, MD, FACP, FACE Tags: Health Thyroid Disorders Source Type: blogs

Keeping children safe around cosmetics
When we think about household products that need to be kept out of the reach of small children, we usually think about medications and cleaning products. We don’t usually think about cosmetics. But a study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics shows that we need to think about cosmetics too. How many childhood injuries are due to cosmetics? Researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to look at data about children younger than 5 who were treated in US emergency departments for cosmetics-related injuries between 2002 and 2016. They found that in that time period, almost 65,000 child...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Injuries Source Type: blogs

Want a sharp mind, strong memory? Ramp up activities
We all want to keep our minds sharp and our memories strong as we get older. So, what can we do right now to prevent cognitive decline in later years? Engaging in regular aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, probably has the biggest effect on people of many ages (see here and here). Convincing evidence also suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet of fish, olive oil, avocados, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains is beneficial. But what about social and mental activities — do they help at all? Social activities, a positive attitude, and learning new things Previous research c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Healthy Aging Memory Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Kratom: Fear-worthy foliage or beneficial botanical?
Depending on what you read, kratom is a dangerous, addictive drug with no medical utility and severe side effects, including overdose and death, or it is an accessible pathway out of undertreated chronic pain and opiate withdrawal. How can the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), medical professionals, and millions of regular kratom users have such divergent views of the same plant? What is kratom? Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree from the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, with properties that range from stimulant-like, energizing and uplifting, to opiate-like, causing drowsiness and euphoria. Kratom has d...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - August 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Pain Management Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs