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Saving lives by prescribing naloxone with opioid painkillers
In this study, researchers trained staff at six clinics in the San Francisco area on how to co-prescribe opioids and naloxone. They then looked at how often naloxone was actually prescribed, whether co-prescribing translated in fewer emergency department visits related to opioids, and whether the dose of prescribed opioids changed. Here’s what the study found: When providers were trained in this approach, the number of naloxone prescriptions increased. So doctors seemed willing to co-prescribe. Patients who were on higher dosages of opioids or had been to the emergency department in the past year because of opioids were...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 26, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Drugs and Supplements Pain Management Prevention Source Type: news

Getting kids back to school: Inside out
In our article Meet Your Inner Family, we introduced the new Harvard Health book: Organize your Emotions, Optimize Your Life, which can be described as an adult version of the Pixar movie Inside Out. We propose that the human psyche has nine life forces speaking as our inner “voices.” This framework can help optimize many situations and challenges in life, from the routine (like back to school) to the more complex. Here’s what a child’s nine inner family members might say about going back to school, and how parents might coach them into more harmony and thriving: Autonomy:   Boy, have I had fun. I feel free in...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 25, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Margaret Moore, MBA Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Parenting Source Type: news

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?
While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is by far the most common. It’s the age-related, “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that affects almost everyone fortunate enough to live a long life, affecting up to 80% of older adults. Fortunately, symptoms may be mild. But for those in whom symptoms are severe, treatment can make a big difference. So what can be done for osteoarthritis? The available treatments for osteoarthritis include: Non-medication approaches, such as physical therapy, loss of excess weight, or use of braces or a cane Complementary and alternative treatments, such as acupunctur...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 24, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Health Healthy Aging Managing your health care Osteoarthritis Pain Management Surgery Source Type: news

Another study shows parents of newborns don ’ t always follow safe sleep recommendations
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire If you ask parents of newborns what the recommendations for safe sleep for infants are, most can recite the “safe sleep rules”: put your baby to sleep on his back, by himself, on a firm surface with no loose bedding (preferably nothing in the crib but Baby). But just because they know doesn’t mean they do it. In a study released last week in the journal Pediatrics, researchers videotaped parents and babies in their homes at night, as part of a study on how parenting affects infant sleep routines. The parents knew they were being videotaped — they agreed to the study — and yet lots o...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 23, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Safety Source Type: news

Why are our girls killing themselves?
In late spring of this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a troubling data analysis of suicides in the United States. Between 1999 and 2014, suicide rates increased by 24%, in both males and females, and in all age groups studied. While deaths due to disease are declining, suicides are increasing. Right now, suicide is one of the 10 leading causes of death overall in the United States and in every age group from ages 10 to 64. Particularly alarming: a sharp increase in suicides — a 200% increase, in fact — among girls ages 10 to 14, with the steepest rate of rise after 2006. T...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 22, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Mental Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: news

Marijuana: Health effects of recreational and medical use
Marijuana is widely used, especially in adolescents and young adults. In the US, there are about 20 million users (about 7.5% of people aged 12 or older). Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug. Similar to hemp, it comes from the cannabis plant. The plant’s primary drug effects come from the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC.” Marijuana is smoked, “vaped” (inhaling the vapor), or ingested in foods or teas. Over the last few decades, the concentration of THC in the cannabis plant has been increasing. In addition, the plant extracts are more potent. Short-term effects of marijuana Marijuana i...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 19, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Drugs and Supplements Pain Management Source Type: news

Get up, stand up, for your health: A little exercise offsets a lot of sitting
A solid body of scientific evidence strongly suggests that the more time a person spends sitting, the higher their risk of death from any cause. Multiple large studies and high-quality data analyses show that regardless of age or health issues, the hours we spend in our office chairs, cars, or on the sofa watching television can literally kill us. But if our jobs require us to be at a desk or behind the wheel for long shifts, what can we do? Are we destined to die earlier than landscapers, baristas, and construction workers? Should we all quit and seek an occupation that will allow us to be on our feet instead? Maybe I sho...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 18, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Prevention Source Type: news

Tossing flossing?
The burning question in the news last week was this: should you bother flossing? The answer for decades has been “of course.” And it’s likely you’ve heard something similar from your dentist. I know I have. But, while the importance of flossing may have been widely accepted, the evidence supporting it turns out to be surprisingly thin. At least that’s the conclusion of health experts who developed the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. These guidelines are issued every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture “…to reflec...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 17, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Dental Health Prevention Source Type: news

4 back to school tips to get your child off to a great start
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Summer is winding down; it’s time to think about school again. As you pick out new clothes and backpacks, here are four back-to-school preparations that can make a real difference in your child’s health and academic success this school year. Get your child on a good sleep schedule — with good sleep habits. During the summer, we often let our children stay up late, which is fine if they can sleep late in the morning — but it’s not so fine when school starts. To avoid rude awakenings (so to speak), get your child started on his school sleep schedule at least a week before school star...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 16, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Source Type: news

Words matter: The language of addiction and life-saving treatments
News articles, radio, and television frequently report on the current opioid crisis. As the death toll has mounted, the media has importantly covered many aspects of the crisis. Unfortunately, this coverage often focuses on the very visible individuals who continue to struggle with active addiction. What is missing is a narrative of hope for a chronic disease which is as treatable as diabetes or high blood pressure. In addition to the pessimistic portrait painted about addiction, the language used by the media is often problematic. Articles frequently use the term “abuse” or “abuser” or refer to individuals as “a...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 15, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Pain Management Source Type: news

Tossing flossing?
The burning question in the news last week was this: should you bother flossing? The answer for decades has been “of course.” And it’s likely you’ve heard something similar from your dentist. I know I have. But, while the importance of flossing may have been widely accepted, the evidence supporting it turns out to be surprisingly thin. At least that’s the conclusion of health experts who developed the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. These guidelines are issued every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture “…to reflec...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 14, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Dental Health Prevention Source Type: news

Perspective on alcohol use and cancer risk
This study isn’t going to become part of my discussion about the pros and cons of alcohol consumption. For those who have the time, here’s why: First, it isn’t because some of the cancers attributed to alcohol use aren’t serious––they are. Anyone who has had a loved one with cancer of the esophagus (swallowing pipe) knows this to be true. The problem is in the context in which I counsel about the role of alcohol in my patient’s lives. For a few, alcohol is nothing but bad news, and this study doesn’t add to what we already know. For these individuals, the challenge is that I don’t have especially effectiv...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 12, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Cancer Prevention alcohol use Source Type: news

New urine test predicts high-grade prostate cancer
Suspicious findings from prostate cancer screening are often followed by a procedure most men would prefer to avoid: a prostate biopsy. But what if biopsies actually could be avoided on the basis of non-invasive test results? Screening tests are moving in that direction, with some intriguing results. One of them, the Prostate Health Index blood test, combines measures of three forms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) into a score that helps doctors predict if a cancer is likely to progress, with an aim to circumvent biopsies that aren’t necessary. Another non-invasive test, called the PCA3 assay, measures genetic evidenc...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 11, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Cancer Health Prostate Health Screening Tests and procedures prostate cancer Source Type: news

Can exercise help relieve teen depression?
In recent years, the media has been awash with information on the health benefits of exercise. Exercise is known to boost mood in adults. But what about younger members of society? Based on recent, high quality survey data, we can estimate that about 11% of adolescents are depressed. Sadly, this means that one in 10 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 experienced a major depressive episode during the year of the survey. These numbers should raise alarm bells for both parents and doctors. Depression makes teens feel awful, but being depressed as a teen may also have life-long consequences, including being depressed as...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 10, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Nandini Mani, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Parenting Source Type: news

The 5 things parents need to know about drowning
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Every day, about 10 people die from drowning — and two of them are children. Not only that, for every child that dies from drowning, five more are treated in emergency room for injuries from drowning, which can include permanent and severe brain injuries. Here are the five things all parents and caregivers need to know about drowning: Drowning can be silent. When we think about drowning, we think about flailing arms and calls for help, but that’s not how it usually works. What usually happens is that people take the biggest breath they can and go down — and don’t come back up again....
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 9, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Safety Source Type: news

What “native” Zika infections mean for the United States
In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a woman in Miami-Dade County in Florida had tested positive for the Zika virus. Follow-up to this case led health officials in Florida to report a total of 15 cases in the area. These weren’t the first people in the United States, or even in Florida, to contract Zika. But these cases were unique in one important way –– they were likely caused by mosquitoes in the United States. The CDC promptly issued a travel warning for pregnant woman and their partners, warning them not to visit the small community of Wynwood, just north of Miami, where these Z...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 8, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Michaela Kane Tags: Family Planning and Pregnancy Health Infectious diseases Travel health Source Type: news

Fentanyl: The dangers of this potent “ man-made ” opioid
As we watch the devastation of the opioid crisis escalate in a rising tide of deaths, a lesser known substance is frequently mentioned: fentanyl. Fentanyl’s relative obscurity was shattered with the well-publicized overdose death of pop star Prince. Previously used only as a pharmaceutical painkiller for crippling pain at the end of life or for surgical procedures, fentanyl is now making headlines as the drug responsible for a growing proportion of overdose deaths. So what is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous? Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning it is made in a laboratory but acts on the same receptors in the b...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 5, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Brain and cognitive health Pain Management Prevention Source Type: news

“Double dipping” your chip: Dangerous or just…icky?
Double dippers are everywhere – the 4th of July barbeque, family reunions, Super Bowl parties, anywhere chips and dip are a staple. These are the people who take a bite and dip their chips a second time when they think no one is looking. Just ask George Leave it to George Costanza on Seinfeld to make double dipping a mainstream public health scare. The episode, which originally aired in 1993, brought shame to George as he was caught dipping a chip a second time at a wake. The partygoer objecting to this practice exclaims “That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” But is double dipping really so ba...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 4, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Eating Infectious diseases Prevention Safety Source Type: news

Female athlete triad: Protecting the health and bones of active young women
As the 2016 summer Olympics get underway, we will see elite women athletes compete at the highest level of their sports. And as we cruise toward September, many more young women will return to the field, court, and pool on college and high school teams. We know that many women who don’t consider themselves athletes exercise more and restrict calories to lose or maintain their weight. This can be a formula for disaster. The benefits of an active lifestyle and participation in sports are many. However, proper and adequate nutrition is paramount to a woman’s health — particularly for strong and healthy bones. This is es...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 3, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Elizabeth Matzkin, MD Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Osteoporosis Prevention Women's Health Source Type: news

Protecting children from the dangers of “ virtual violence ”
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire There has been a lot of violence in the world in the past few weeks — and many of our children have been watching it. That’s not a good thing. Between mainstream media and social media, violence reaches far past the places and people it directly affects. Whether it’s the latest shooting, the latest terrorist attack, or some other act of violence, television and other media can bring it into every home, every cell phone, and every computer. The recent rise in cell phone videos shared on social media — often raw, unedited, and shocking — has increased the prevalence and reach of viole...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 2, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: news

Beating osteoarthritis knee pain: Beyond special shoes
We have plenty of fairy tales about shoes that work magic in people’s lives: glass slippers that brought love to Cinderella, and sparkly red heels that gave Dorothy powers in MGM’s version of The Wizard of Oz. In real life, footwear magic is limited to “unloading” shoes that may help relieve knee pain from osteoarthritis. These unloading shoes have stiffer soles, and slightly tilted insoles that reposition the foot, intended to reduce (or unload) strain on the knee. But a study published online July 12, 2016, in Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that unloading shoes are no better than a good pair of walking shoe...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - August 1, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Osteoarthritis Pain Management Source Type: news

Are fresh juice drinks as healthy as they seem?
On these midsummer days, it’s hard to walk down the street without passing someone sipping a vividly colored beverage. According to food industry statistics, these folks aren’t likely to be drinking McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes or 7-Eleven Slurpees. Instead, people are shifting from sugary beverages with artificial ingredients to cold-pressed juices and smoothies. Sales of juice extractors and blenders lead the small-appliance market, and juice bars continue to spring up on city streets, in shopping malls, and even in supermarkets. There are a couple of reasons people are taking to these beverages, says Kathy McManus, ...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 29, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Beverly Merz Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: news

The U.S. longevity gap
It’s not hard to find someone praising the quality of this country’s healthcare. I’ve often heard it called the best in the world – and that’s a widely held belief among politicians, public officials, doctors, and patients. While there’s plenty of debate about why healthcare in the U.S. is so expensive and how we should pay for it, the high quality of our healthcare seems incontestable – more on this point later. But if our healthcare is so good, why isn’t life expectancy in the U.S. the highest in the world? In fact, life expectancy in the U.S. lags by a number of years behind Japan, the United Kingdom, Sp...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 28, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Prevention Safety Source Type: news

Pace to breathe — New treatments for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common condition. As many as 26% of all Americans may suffer from this condition, in which there are long pauses between breaths during sleep. Unfortunately, many patients with sleep apnea do not tolerate the most effective current therapy, continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. For some of these people, a new approach pacemaker therapy may be an alternative. Pacemakers for sleep apnea? This must be a “typo,” right? Don’t you really mean heart pacemaker? No, this isn’t a typo. Pacemakers are some of the newest treatments for sleep apnea. Before explaining how they work, a short physiology le...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 27, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Stuart Quan, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Sleep Source Type: news

When hot gets too hot: keeping children safe in the heat
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire Heat is part of summer — and for the most part, children do fine in the heat. But sometimes, heat can be dangerous, even deadly. As summer heats up — and as much of the country sits in a heat wave — it’s important to know about those dangers so that you can keep children safe. Here’s what you need to know about heat and children: Never leave a child in a car in the heat. Children’s bodies can heat up incredibly quickly — leading to damage to organs and even death. Every year children die from being in a hot car — because their caregiver thought they would be fine, because an e...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 26, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Safety Source Type: news

E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news
Follow me at @JohnRossMD Americans are confused about electronic cigarettes. A recent poll showed that the public was about evenly split between those who thought that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, were less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and those who believed that e-cigarettes were as bad as or worse than regular cigarettes. Unfortunately, there is no long-term safety data about e-cigarettes. What information we do have suggests that e-cigarettes have a complex mix of potential harms and benefits. E-cigarettes: Less deadly than regular cigarettes First, the good news: e-cigarettes are almost certainly le...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 25, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Behavioral Health Cancer Lung disease Prevention Smoking cessation Source Type: news

Gut reaction: How bacteria in your belly may affect your heart
You know the old saying, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? It turns out there’s a whole new twist to that cliché. (And just to be clear, it applies women, too). You’re probably well aware that what you eat plays a role in your heart’s health. Now, scientists are learning more about how the trillions of bacteria dwelling deep inside your digestive tract can affect your risk of cardiovascular disease. Collectively known as the gut microbiota, these microbes assist with digestion, but also make certain vitamins, break down toxins, and train your immune system. Over the past decade, scientists have unco...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 22, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Health Heart Health Prevention Source Type: news

Quitting smoking during the second half of the menstrual cycle may help women kick the habit
Follow me on twitter @hricciot Nearly every woman will acknowledge that her menstrual cycle affects her mood and behavior. An estimated 85% of women experience premenstrual syndrome one to two weeks before her period, which may include moodiness, anxiety, irritability, or food cravings along with physical symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness. Studies suggest that women are more likely to engage in addictive behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, in the first half of the menstrual cycle, that is the time between the start of your period and ovulation. The underlying reason is thought to be that the hormone estradi...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 21, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Hope Ricciotti, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Prevention Smoking cessation Women's Health Source Type: news

The trouble with antibiotics
Most people are aware of the potential downsides of taking an antibiotic. These side effects can range from allergic reactions to stomach upset, diarrhea, mental confusion, and in some cases, Clostridium difficile colitis – painful colon inflammation caused by a disruption in the normal balance of bacteria in the large intestine. However, more recently, concerns regarding the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are increasingly in the news. “Antimicrobial stewardship” promotes the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents, including antibiotics, in order to improve patient outcomes, reduce drug resistance, and l...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 20, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Susan Farrell, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Infectious diseases Managing your health care Source Type: news

Fewer allergies: A possible upside of thumb sucking and nail biting
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire As a pediatrician, I get a lot of questions about thumb sucking and nail biting. Both worry parents a lot: they worry about damage to teeth, about infections, and about teasing from other children. Now a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that there may actually be benefits to having your fingers in your mouth. As part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, researchers in New Zealand followed about a thousand people born in 1972-1973 out until their 38th birthday. When they were 5, 7, 9 and 11 the...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 19, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Asthma and Allergies Children's Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: news

New blood test for colon cancer screening: Questions remain
In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new screening test for colorectal cancer, commonly referred to as colon cancer. This test is unique because it’s blood-based – meaning no more stool samples or the dreaded colonoscopy. Patients can have the test done as part of their annual blood tests, and they don’t have to think twice about it. But what it lacks in discomfort it makes up for in inexactitude. This newly approved test is not as sensitive or as accurate as a colonoscopy or as a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), which can detect hidden blood in stool, potentially indicating colon cancer. ...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 18, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Celia Smoak Spell Tags: Cancer Health Health care Prevention Screening Source Type: news

Buying into generic drugs
It is amazing how something so small can cost so much. Whether it is a short-term treatment, or multiple drugs you take indefinitely, prescription drugs have the potential to drain your savings. However, there are many cheaper generic versions of more expensive brand-name drugs. In fact, almost 80% of prescriptions are for generic drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and on average they cost about 80% to 85% less than brand names. Odds are there is generic version to treat your condition, too, whether it is chronic pain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or depression. But is t...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 15, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health care Managing your health care Source Type: news

Summer is the perfect time to fine tune your diet
It’s July, and the year 2016 is half over! If in January you promised yourself that you’d eat healthier, it’s not too late! In fact, summer is a great time to fine tune and upgrade your diet. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a good roadmap. Here’s how you can get started. Establish a healthy eating pattern Rather than focus on nutrients, percentages, or grams, let’s eat real, whole food. Vegetables are the go-to food. Most are low in calories, high in fiber, and full of nutrients Fruit, especially whole fruits, are also key players in eating healthfully. They are loaded with vitamins and mineral...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 14, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: news

What Michelangelo ’s hands (can and can’t) tell us about arthritis
This just in: researchers have discovered that Michelangelo had osteoarthritis, not gout as previously thought. The findings are based on depictions of the hands of the painter and sculptor as rendered by other artists and are discussed in a recent issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. While this may not be the most exciting medical news you’ve ever heard (unless you’re particularly interested in arthritis, like me!), this study brings up a number of ideas about the two most common types of arthritis. Each of these seems right. But not all of them are. Does activity cause arthritis or help limit its da...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 13, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Health Healthy Aging Osteoarthritis Source Type: news

What Michelangelo’s hands (can and can’t) tell us about arthritis
This just in: researchers have discovered that Michelangelo had osteoarthritis, not gout as previously thought. The findings are based on depictions of the hands of the painter and sculptor as rendered by other artists and are discussed in a recent issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. While this may not be the most exciting medical news you’ve ever heard (unless you’re particularly interested in arthritis, like me!), this study brings up a number of ideas about the two most common types of arthritis. Each of these seems right. But not all of them are. Does activity cause arthritis or help limit its da...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 13, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Health Healthy Aging Osteoarthritis Source Type: news

The right reasons to choose a sunscreen —and the right way to use it
Follow me at @drClaire When you buy a sunscreen, what makes you buy one brand over another? For many people, the reasons they choose aren’t the ones most likely to keep them safe from the sun. In a study recently published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers looked at the top 1% of sunscreens being sold on Amazon.com as of December 2015 (65 out of 6,500). By “top,” I mean the ones that had the highest number of reviews and got at least 4 out of 5 stars. When they looked at the brands, they found that a full 40% of those top 65 didn’t meet the sunscreen guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 12, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Safety Skin and Hair Care Source Type: news

The right reasons to choose a sunscreen—and the right way to use it
Follow me at @drClaire When you buy a sunscreen, what makes you buy one brand over another? For many people, the reasons they choose aren’t the ones most likely to keep them safe from the sun. In a study recently published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers looked at the top 1% of sunscreens being sold on Amazon.com as of December 2015 (65 out of 6,500). By “top,” I mean the ones that had the highest number of reviews and got at least 4 out of 5 stars. When they looked at the brands, they found that a full 40% of those top 65 didn’t meet the sunscreen guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 12, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Prevention Safety Skin and Hair Care Source Type: news

For the good of your heart: Keep holding the salt
Your doctor has probably told you to cut back on salt, especially if you have high blood pressure. For years we’ve understood that excess salt raises blood pressure and increases deaths from heart disease. The guilty element is sodium, which pairs with chloride to form common salt. So when the journal Lancet recently published a study reporting that low dietary sodium was associated with an increased risk of heart disease and death, controversy was predictable. A wealth of rigorous scientific studies supports a link between excess sodium intake and high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Yet the Lancet paper rep...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 11, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD Tags: Healthy Eating Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Prevention Source Type: news

What ’s the best way to quit smoking?
Smoking cigarettes contributes to almost 1 in 5 deaths. The top three smoking-related causes of death are cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition to these “top three,” smoking is also linked to a number of other cancers, an increased likelihood of getting more colds and infections, diabetes, osteoporosis and hip fractures, problems in pregnancy, difficulty with erections, stomach ulcers, gum disease, and the list goes on. Quitting smoking can add years to your life. Though the earlier the better, it’s never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting are real,...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 8, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Lung disease Prevention Smoking cessation Source Type: news

What’s the best way to quit smoking?
Smoking cigarettes contributes to almost 1 in 5 deaths. The top three smoking-related causes of death are cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition to these “top three,” smoking is also linked to a number of other cancers, an increased likelihood of getting more colds and infections, diabetes, osteoporosis and hip fractures, problems in pregnancy, difficulty with erections, stomach ulcers, gum disease, and the list goes on. Quitting smoking can add years to your life. Though the earlier the better, it’s never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting are real,...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 8, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Addiction Behavioral Health Lung disease Prevention Smoking cessation Source Type: news

A placebo can work even when you know it’s a placebo
Follow me at @mallikamarshall If your doctor told you that she was giving you a placebo and that it would help you, would you believe her? As it turns out, based on new research, maybe you should. Placebos are often considered “fake” treatments. You may have heard them described as “sugar pills.” They usually take the form of pills, injections, or even entire procedures that are used in clinical trials to test “real” treatments. For example, one group of study participants is given an active drug and another group is given a placebo, which looks exactly like the active medication but is completely inactive. The...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 7, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Mallika Marshall, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Pain Management Source Type: news

“Superbugs” and the very real threat of untreatable infections
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria mutate to “outsmart” or resist antibiotic medicine, making the bacterial infection more difficult for doctors to treat and cure with standard medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2 million people are infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria every year, and more than 23,000 people die from these infections. While some bacteria become resistant to a particular antibiotic, other, more dangerous strains have grown resistant to almost every treatment option. This means that doctors must use stronger and less common antibiotics...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 6, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Michaela Kane Tags: Drugs and Supplements Infectious diseases Source Type: news

Good — and bad — news about today’s teens
Follow me at @drClaire The results are in from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). There is a lot to celebrate — but there are also some trends that parents, and everyone who spends time with or works with teens, should know about. The YRBS is a nationwide survey of high school students conducted every two years. More than 15,000 students participated in the 2015 survey. The point of the survey is to monitor behaviors that can put the health and safety of teens at risk. It’s a confidential survey that allows teens to admit to things they might not want to admit to their parents and teachers. The more w...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 5, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Prevention Source Type: news

The times, they are a-changin’ (and bringing new syndromes)
When are symptoms due to a medical condition, and when are they just a part of life? That’s the question that came to mind as I read about “computer vision syndrome.” So, what is a syndrome, anyway? Before considering the health hazards of working long hours in front of a computer screen, it’s worth asking what a syndrome is. In medicine we often use the word syndrome to describe a group of features, such as symptoms, examination findings or test results, that tend to occur together but without a clear enough understanding of their cause to be considered a specific disease. Some syndromes are described by the part ...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - July 1, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Eye Health Source Type: news

The (not-so-hidden) costs of caregiving
Family caregiving is a huge topic nowadays. With over 75 million “baby boomers” poised to become the largest generation in American history to require such caregiving, how can it not be? Already, family members — people like you and me — provide $642 billion worth of unpaid care for our spouses, parents, and relatives each year. But what is the price we pay in terms of our personal well-being, physical and otherwise? While caregiving has been shown to have benefits — it helps to build character, enrich one’s soul, and even ward off cognitive decline —its burdens can be just as significant, if not more so, as ...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 30, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Leo Newhouse, LICSW Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Caregiving Healthy Aging Stress Source Type: news

The whole grain goodness of modern and ancient grains
I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and every once in a while a TV commercial would tout a product with the “goodness of whole grains,” like it was some earth-shattering news that would make your mom floor it to the grocery store. Back then it probably was impressive, since many popular foods were loaded with refined grains and added sugar (I’m talking to you, spongy lunchbox treats and cereals with prizes inside the box). These days, it’s common knowledge that whole grains like oats and wheat are important for maintaining health: they raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycer...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 29, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Health Healthy Eating Heart Health Source Type: news

A bummer for kids: Nasal flu vaccine not effective
Follow me at @drClaire Every year, many of my patients have been able to skip the needle — and still get vaccinated against the flu. That was the great thing about the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, known as the LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine): kids scared of needles could get a squirt up each nostril and be all set. This coming flu season, everyone is getting the shot. It turns out that the nasal spray just didn’t work that well. Despite studies from the 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 flu seasons that seemed to show that the nasal spray actually worked better than the shot in children ages 2-8 years, over t...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 28, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Cold and Flu Infectious diseases Parenting Prevention Source Type: news

Single payer healthcare: Pluses, minuses, and what it means for you
Follow me at @andrea_sylvie As someone who researches inequities in health care, I’ve diligently followed the debate about healthcare reform. However, most of my friends (and I suspect most Americans) wonder exactly what single payer healthcare is and how will it affect them. In a New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece, Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, a professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, expounds on the history and obstacles facing calls for single payer healthcare reform. Problems with the current U.S. healthcare system Oberlander points out that the impetus for reorgan...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 27, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Andrea S. Christopher, MD Tags: Health Health care Source Type: news

Taking advantage of incidental findings
In this study, researchers compared the results of mammograms with CT scans of the coronary arteries. They found that there was a good correlation between the finding of calcium-laden blood vessels on mammograms and finding calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. If future research confirms this link — and, more importantly, if these mammographic findings lead to preventive measures or treatments that lower the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and premature cardiovascular-related deaths — mammography could become a common screening test for both breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. “Incidentalomas”: Mor...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 24, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health care Tests and procedures Source Type: news

An easy way to eat healthier this summer: Find a farmers’ market
June 23 is circled on a lot of calendars at Harvard Medical School. It’s the day the Mission Hill Farmers’ Market will open for the summer, just a couple of blocks from the campus. For the last several years we’ve looked forward to the arrival of the trucks laden with leafy greens, succulent fruit, and fresh flowers. Like the residents of the Mission Hill neighborhood, we know how fortunate we are to have the market. April Bowling, a doctoral student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, sums up the benefits we’re getting: “When you attend a farmers’ market, you can have exposure to all kinds of fruits ...
Source: New Harvard Health Information - June 23, 2016 Category: Consumer Health Advice Authors: Beverly Merz Tags: Behavioral Health Healthy Eating Source Type: news