How to avoid a relapse when things seem out of control – Harvard Health Blog

There is no one who would deny that this has been a stressful year. As the Grateful Dead said, “If the thunder don’t get you, the lightning will.” If you manage to avoid catching COVID, then you are probably at least contending with some mixture of financial and childcare stress, the nail-biting political divisions we see daily on television and social media, and a constricted social universe. Our society already suffers from an epidemic of loneliness that has been cruelly worsened by the physical distancing required to keep the pandemic at bay.

Even people not struggling with addiction are finding their drug and alcohol use rising, along with other unhealthy habits. In a perfect world, we’d all reach for the yoga mat, go for walks, eat tofu, meditate, and practice mindfulness, but… we’re only human. Stress can lead us to excel, but it can also lead us to harmful habits, whether it be ice cream or potato chips, or that extra beer we know we don’t need. The additive, multifactorial, unrelenting stress that the year 2020 has brought would challenge even a Zen master to keep his or her cool.

For those struggling to stay in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, each day can be a challenge, even on a good day. That’s why the saying from Alcoholics Anonymous, “one day at a time,” has withstood the test of time, and has proven so helpful as a way to make facing the stresses of each day seem manageable, without relapsing to your mind-numbing crutch of choice.

What can you do to stay in recovery when the world seems to have gone crazy?

People joke on Twitter about how the year 2020 has been the longest decade they can remember, but in truth, it is hard for

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Age-related macular degeneration: Early detection and timely treatment may help preserve vision – Harvard Health Blog

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 60. As its name implies, the condition primarily affects the macula, which is the region of the retina responsible for central vision. A person whose macula is impacted by retinal disease may develop difficulty with tasks such as reading and driving, but maintain good peripheral vision.

If you have ARMD, understanding the signs and symptoms, proper monitoring, early detection of advancing disease, and timely treatment are all key to preserving vision.

Stages of age-related macular degeneration

ARMD may be classified as early, intermediate, or advanced, depending on physical changes visible to an ophthalmologist during an eye exam. Early ARMD is characterized by the presence of small yellow deposits known as drusen in the layer behind the retina. Drusen can be found in healthy eyes as people age, but when they become numerous, a diagnosis of ARMD may be made. Someone with early ARMD may not experience any visual symptoms, and is likely to have good visual function when measured using standard methods such as an eye chart.

When the number and size of drusen reach a certain threshold, ARMD is graded as intermediate, which carries a higher risk of progressing to advanced ARMD and vision loss. Those with intermediate ARMD may start to have early symptoms such as distortion in their central vision or mild loss of visual acuity, although this is not always the case.

A designation of advanced ARMD is made when patients develop either degenerative loss of photoreceptors (light-sensitive cells in the retina), referred to as atrophy, or abnormal blood vessel growth, referred to as choroidal neovascularization (CNV).

There are two main types of advanced ARMD: exudative (wet) ARMD and non-exudative (dry). The presence of CNV confers a designation of

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2 easy, affordable, plant-centered dinners – Harvard Health Blog

Plant-based diets have taken root in American culture in recent years, mostly thanks to the growing realization about the health benefits of this eating pattern. But contrary to what some people think, plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean you must forego all animal products. Rather, you might just eat meat or dairy products less frequently, or in smaller portions. To replace those lost calories, you should eat more beans and legumes, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. These mostly low-fat, nutrient-rich foods have been linked to improvements in many health-related issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Better for your budget and the planet

A plant-forward diet also can help reduce your food budget. And there’s yet another reason to feel good about this eating pattern: it helps preserve our planet’s health. A diet that contains only small amounts of animal foods requires a fraction of resources such as water, energy, and land to cultivate, and it generates fewer greenhouse gases. What’s more, by eating unprocessed or minimally processed foods, you avoid the additional energy and packaging that go into the production of processed foods.

“Following a plant-based diet may be an important way to reduce your carbon footprint,“ says Teresa Fung, adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Research suggests that diets high in red meat account for five times the emissions of plant-based diets.

How much plant food should you aim for if you want a truly sustainable diet? In early 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health — a multidisciplinary group consisting of 37 leading scientists from 16 countries — described the type of diet needed to support a world population of 10 billion by the year 2050 in a healthful, sustainable way. Its report urged people to double the amount

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The sequence of hormonal therapy and radiation affects outcomes in men treated for prostate cancer – Harvard Health Blog

A common treatment for men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer is to combine radiation with drugs that block testosterone — a hormone that makes the tumors grow faster. (This type of treatment is also called androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT).

New research is suggesting the sequence of these treatments may be crucially important.

Dr. Dan Spratt, a professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, led the research. He and his colleagues pooled data from two previously published clinical trials (here and here). Taken together, the studies enrolled just over 1,000 men who had been randomly assigned to one of two groups:

  • hormonal therapy given before radiation (followed in all cases by both treatments given together), or
  • hormonal therapy that started either concurrently with radiation and then continued after it was finished, or that started only after the radiation treatments were completed.

By themselves, the individual studies didn’t show a significant difference in outcomes after an average follow-up of nearly 15 years. But by pooling the data, Spratt’s team produced a dataset with enough statistical power to show that men who started on hormonal therapy either during or after radiation did significantly better in all respects: compared to the men who were treated with hormone therapy first, they had lesser odds of experiencing a rise in prostate-specific antigen levels (suggesting the cancer might be returning); they lived longer without a progression of their disease; and they were less likely to have cancer spread to other parts of the body. The results also suggested they had a lower risk of actually dying from prostate cancer, although this particular finding wasn’t statistically significant.

Researchers have already devoted a lot of attention to how long hormonal therapy should last when it’s given with radiation. This is now the first study to

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