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The new coronavirus: What we do — and don’t — know - harvard

The new coronavirus: What we do — and don’t — know

A novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, has grown quickly since late December. This primer on what we do –– and don't –– know can help if you're concerned about this rapidly evolving public health issue. The post The new coronavirus: What we do — and don’t — know appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 7 hours ago
Even Female Bosses Face Sexual Harrassment: Study  - web md

Even Female Bosses Face Sexual Harrassment: Study

Researchers examined workplace sexual harassment in the United States, Japan and Sweden. They found that female supervisors experienced between 30% and 100% more sexual harassment than other women employees.
web md - 1 day ago
Think hard before shaming children - harvard

Think hard before shaming children

Parents may offer what they think is constructive criticism to a child, but there is a fine line between criticism and shaming, and shaming can have lasting effects on a child’s self-esteem. The post Think hard before shaming children appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 day ago
The hype on hyaluronic acid - harvard

The hype on hyaluronic acid

A variety of beauty and skincare products now contain hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally found in the body that retains moisture. But what benefits do these products offer, and are they worth using? The post The hype on hyaluronic acid appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 days ago
What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects? - harvard

What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects?

Women who are hoping to become pregnant want to do everything they can to ensure that their babies to be as healthy as possible, which means following recommendations to minimize the possibility of birth defects. The post What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 3 days ago
Is your cell phone dangerous to your health? - harvard

Is your cell phone dangerous to your health?

Plenty of us use our phones in situations when we probably should be paying more attention. But how often does this behavior lead to actual injury? A data analysis offers some answers. The post Is your cell phone dangerous to your health? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 4 days ago
Saying Goodbye to One-Sided Relationships - positively positive

Saying Goodbye to One-Sided Relationships

The problem is, it’s not that easy to call someone out or tell them you’re no longer going to stick around while they continue their selfish ways. We like to tell ourselves we’re strong enough to walk away, but it takes time, courage, and a lot of confidence to accept you’re not loving yourself by keeping this person in your life. It takes lots of self-love to walk away from a friend you’ve known all your life or a partner who you love because you know you’re hurting yourself by keeping them around. The post Saying Goodbye to One-Sided Relationships appeared first on Positively Positive.
positively positive - 4 days ago
LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go? - harvard

LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go?

Lowering LDL cholesterol has been shown to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have suggested that more aggressive goals for LDL levels in people who already have CVD can decrease risk even further. The post LDL cholesterol: How low can you (safely) go? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 5 days ago
Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help? - harvard

Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help?

Researchers examining dietary data from over 50,000 postmenopausal women found that women who ate foods with a higher glycemic index, and foods with more added sugars, were more likely to have insomnia. The post Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss - harvard

Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss

Over 7 million people have diabetic retinopathy, the most common form of vision loss in working-age adults with diabetes. It’s recommended that people with diabetes should work to keep blood pressure in the normal range and their A1c level below 7% to avoid complications such as diabetic retinopathy. The post Diabetic retinopathy: Understanding diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery - harvard

Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery

Regular marijuana users who need surgery should disclose their use ahead of the procedure, because of its effects on the body and on the anesthesia medications required for sedation. The post Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
What to do when your child swears - harvard

What to do when your child swears

Even young children can surprise a parent with salty language. Regardless of where they first heard it, use the occasion to help your child learn appropriate behavior in and outside the home. The post What to do when your child swears appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things? - harvard

Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things?

Combining multiple medications into a single pill, or polypill, is one approach to improving adherence (taking medication as prescribed). Depending on the conditions being treated, it may be easier for people to take a single pill, but there are also downsides to this approach. The post Are polypills and population-based treatment the next big things? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 1 week ago
Targeted Ultrasound Destroys Cancer Cells: Study  - web md

Targeted Ultrasound Destroys Cancer Cells: Study

Focused ultrasound is already used to destroy tumors, with most approaches using either high-intensity beams to heat and destroy cells or injected contrast dyes. But both approaches can harm healthy cells and contrast dyes work only for a minority of tumors.
web md - 1 week ago
What are ultra-processed foods and are they bad for our health? - harvard

What are ultra-processed foods and are they bad for our health?

Health advice tells us to eat less processed food, but what does that mean? Researchers compared diets with most of the calories from unprocessed foods and from ultra-processed foods, to see how the subjects were affected. The post What are ultra-processed foods and are they bad for our health? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk - harvard

Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk

Can health marketing be harmful? Watch out for health ads that make misleading or even dangerous claims that an unproven product or treatment is better than a proven one. The post Harvard Health Ad Watch: When marketing puts your health at risk appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Study: Young Women Getting Pelvic Exams They Don’t Need  - web md

Study: Young Women Getting Pelvic Exams They Don’t Need

The authors estimate that nearly one-quarter of young women aged 15-20 have received a pelvic exam in the last year. That’s 2.6 million girls. More than half of the exams -- 1.4 million -- may not have been needed.
web md - 2 weeks ago
What parents need to know about a vegan diet - harvard

What parents need to know about a vegan diet

If your family follows a vegan diet––or your child expresses the desire to do so on their own––it's important for parents to be aware of the nutritional challenges of vegan eating, and how to meet them. The post What parents need to know about a vegan diet appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Vestibular migraine: Progress in the search for treatments - harvard

Vestibular migraine: Progress in the search for treatments

A sense of dizziness or spinning associated with migraine headache is called vestibular migraine. A small study found that a type of nerve stimulation treatment improved symptoms of vestibular migraine in study participants. The post Vestibular migraine: Progress in the search for treatments appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
harvard - 2 weeks ago
Hiatus - positively psychological

Hiatus

Hello Everybody! It is good to take a minute to write again. It has been too long since I have posted on this blog. When I started the blog over the summer, I was feeling very inspired to read as much psychological research as possible in an effort to share it with you guys. This … Continue reading Hiatus →
positively psychological - 3 weeks ago
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harvard
Why medical research keeps changing its mind

Why medical research keeps changing its mind

harvard - 3 weeks ago

Did you ever wonder why medical research seems to flip-flop so often? Eggs used to be terrible for your health; now theyre not so bad. Stomach ulcers were thought to be due to stress and a type A personality but thats been disproven. I was taught that every postmenopausal woman should take hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease and bone loss; now its considered way too risky. It can make you question every bit of medical news you hear.

But maybe thats not such a bad thing. Questioning what you read or hear is reasonable. And maybe medical reversals when new research leads to a complete turnaround regarding a widespread medical practice or treatment are not as common as they seem. Perhaps they get more attention than they deserve and drown out the consistent and non-reversed medical research thats out there. For example, it seems unlikely that the health benefits of regular exercise, smoking cessation, or maintaining a healthy weight will ever be reversed.

A new study examines medical reversals

A remarkable new study explored the phenomenon of medical reversals to determine how common they are, and to identify what types of conditions were most involved.

Researchers collected more than 3,000 randomized controlled trials; these are considered the most reliable types of research because they randomly assign otherwise similar study subjects to different treatment groups and try to account (control) for factors other than the treatments that might affect the results. For example, a trial comparing two treatments to prevent heart attacks would need to have a similar proportion of people with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, because these can affect the risk of heart attack.

In this new study, the analysis was limited to three of the top medical journals in the world: JAMA (formerly known as the Journal of the American Medical Association), The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine. For each medical reversal identified, the authors searched for later studies refuting the findings and only counted those that had stood the test of time (so far!).

Heres what they found:

  • Of 3,017 studies analyzed from the last 15 years, 396 came to conclusions that reversed prior treatments or practice recommendations. This represented about 13% of randomized controlled trials appearing in these journals and about 6% of their original research papers.
  • The most common conditions were cardiovascular disease, preventive medicine, and critical care medicine (such as care received in an intensive care unit).
  • Medications, procedures, and vitamins accounted for about two-thirds of the reversals.

Examples of medical reversals

Among the nearly 400 medical treatments or practices that were reversed during the years of this new study, here are some notable examples.

  • Wearable technology for weight loss. When fitness trackers first became widely available, recommendations to use them to help with weight loss were common. But a study in 2016 found that they were no more effective (and perhaps less so) than a standard weight-loss program that did not use an activity tracker.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). For more than 50 years, HRT was thought to prevent chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, in menopausal women. A number of more recent (and more powerful) studies have demonstrated that HRT provides no such benefits, and that some combinations of hormonal therapy may increase the risk of certain cancers, stroke, and blood clots. HRT may still be recommended for women with significant menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, but it is no longer prescribed to prevent chronic disease.
  • Surgery for a meniscal (cartilage) tear with osteoarthritis of the knee for adults ages 45 and older. This combination of problems is common among middle-aged and older adults and is frequently detected when MRI scans are performed to evaluate knee pain. While surgery was often recommended and performed to remove or repair the torn meniscus, it was uncertain whether this was truly necessary. A study in 2013 found that initial treatment with physical therapy was just as effective as immediate surgery. Guidelines soon changed to advise nonsurgical treatment as the initial approach for most middle-aged or older patients with meniscal tears and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Medical myth or medical fact?

Myth and misconception are common in matters of health and medical practice. But its also true that medical fact is a moving target. Things we accepted as fact years ago sometimes turn out to be wrong, as these medical reversals demonstrate. Meanwhile, certain myths could turn out to have credence if well-designed research concludes as much.

The reason this study about medical reversals is so important is that it points out how vital rigorous research is, not only for new treatments or innovative procedures, but also to evaluate older, well-established ways of doing things.

Whats next?

Hearing medical experts flip-flop on their recommendations or conclusions about medical news seems common but is 6% of original research or 13% of all randomized controlled trials too high? Id argue that its not. In fact, rather than casting doubt on all research, this new study about medical reversals should serve as a measure of reassurance that skepticism is alive and well in the research community, and that low-value medical practices will be uncovered if the right research is designed, funded, and implemented.

You can bet that there will be more head-scratching, mind-bending medical reversals in the future. Just keep in mind that most of this is simply a reflection of how researchers are continuing to clarify what works in medicine and what doesnt. The best they can do is to keep at it. The best we can do is to consider medical news with a critical eye and to keep an open mind.

The post Why medical research keeps changing its mind appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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