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Harvard Reviews of Health News


Harvard News ReviewsA team of Harvard physicians reviews health news headlines 24/7/365, and creates commentary and provides advice on how a consumer should react to the news. For urgent breaking health news, articles are written within 6-18 hours of the news story’s first appearance. If desired, they can be delivered immediately upon completion. Over 200 new articles are written annually.

Neurology Group Backs Less Use of Narcotics

Narcotic pain relievers are usually too risky for long-term treatment of headaches, low back pain and fibromyalgia, new guidelines say. The statement comes from the American Academy of Neurology. Prescription narcotics are also called opioids. They include codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl and hydrocodone. Some pills also contain non-prescription pain relievers. Narcotics can provide short-term pain relief. But the guidelines say there is no proof that they can help long-term, non-cancer pain without major risks. These risks include serious side effects, overdose, addiction and death. Problems linked with narcotics have grown dramatically since the late 1990s. That's when doctors started prescribing them more often for non-cancer pain. The new guidelines describe precautions that doctors can take to help prevent abuse of these drugs.

Pediatricians Back Long-Acting Birth Control

Long-acting birth control methods should be the first choice for teenagers who have sex, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says. The two long-acting methods are intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormone implants. The new advice comes in a revised policy statement from the AAP, a large group of children's doctors. The statement notes that abstinence is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. For teens who decide to have sex, doctors are urged to explain the pros and cons of birth control methods and recommend condoms to prevent disease. Most teens choose condoms or birth control pills. But the long-acting methods are much more reliable, the AAP says. An IUD is a tiny, T-shaped device that is placed inside the uterus. It works for 5 to 10 years. Pregnancy rates are 0.2% to 0.8% per year. Implants are placed under the skin of the arm.

Diabetes Growth May Be Slowing Down

After nearly 20 years of rapid increases, U.S. diabetes rates may be rising more slowly. That's the conclusion of a new study. The study was based on data from a national health survey. Diabetes rates didn't change much in the 1980s. But there was a big change between 1990 and 2012. The total number of people living with diabetes rose from 35 to 83 for each 1,000 people. The number of new cases diagnosed rose from 3.2 per thousand in 1990 to 8.8 per thousand in 2008. But then the increase slowed down. About 7.1 new cases per thousand were diagnosed in 2012. The total number of people with diabetes rose about 0.6% per year between 2008 and 2012. That compares with 4.5% average yearly increases in the 18 years before. But the increase in new diabetes cases did not slow down for all groups.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

Narcotic pain relievers are usually too risky for long-term treatment of headaches, low back pain and fibromyalgia, new guidelines say. The statement comes from the American Academy of Neurology. Prescription narcotics are also called opioids. They include co...

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