Invent Health - Future of Behavioral and Mental Health @UCSFRead more...
Halo Neuroscience replaces drugs with electricity; Healthy lifestyles to control risk of cancers
Happy Thanksgiving week!
This week, we should give thanks for our health. And for advances in modern medicine and technologies that have helped eradicate many diseases, such as polio and smallpox, and more in the coming years.
It's also a good time to thank people like Ernestine Shepperd, who's more than 80 yrs old, but looks like she's 65. She started working out in earnest a 56. Wow. Now she's an inspiration to many of us who want to live longer and stronger.
Indeed, our lifestyle behaviors are big factors in determining whether we get sick. After all, many conditions that still plague us are brought on due to bad lifestyle choices. For instance, the rise in Type 2 Diabetes is due to poor eating habits and sedentary lives, which leads to more weight gain -- the most powerful determinant of Type 2 Diabetes. To reverse this condition, it requires lifestyle choices to heal. If you have Type 2 diabetes, it's best you eat a healthy diet and exercise.
Same thing applies to other conditions. For high blood pressure, again - the prescription is cut back sugars and exercise more. If you're depressed, it's best to eat non-sugary foods, which can raise antioxidant levels, and exercise, which can raise serotonin levels, boost endorphins and release neurotrophic proteins to regulate mood in a more sustaining and natural way.
Of course, there's also diseases that occur due to aging, from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, hypertension, Alzheimer's, to name a few. But even so, exercise helps lower inflammation and can help prevent these conditions or slow the deterioration.
So if our behavior is key to our success, can technology help us be better in tapping into those better behaviors? Where environmental and cultural factors may drive us to behave poorly, can technology help turn that around? Yes. We believe so. And we're going to talk about that during our upcoming SplashX Invent Health event on the evening of Dec. 13.
Our event is called "Vitality: Lifestyle as a drug". Join us!
Ahead of the gathering, here's my weekly look at relevant stories that can prepare us for the discussion.
Pharmacology turned this Stanford student off
Daniel Chao is founder and CEO of Halo Neuroscience, which received $13 million in financing earlier this year. Halo Neuroscience makes a product that helps the brain's elasticity.
When Chao, who studied biochemistry and neuroscience, was a Stanford med student fascinated with the brain, he took a pharmacology class. That class opened his eyes.
What he learned was that while some antibiotics succeeded in eradicating diseases, and some medications helped reduce cholesterol or blood pressure, drugs have failed when it comes to the brain. Some of these neurological problems that medications address have to do with pain, depression or dementia.
For these conditions, basically, drugs carpet bomb the entire body, leaving a big mess along the way.
"Drugs for the brain simply don't work," Daniel said to me. "To expect a chemical to travel through your entire body and brain without causing side effects along the way is a pipe dream. This is why the efficacy for neuro and psychiatric drug is so low and and side effects so high and often worse than the disease itself. That's when I asked myself, 'could electricity be a superior means to treat the brain instead of drugs?'"
Today, Daniel has raised more than $20 million to build out his vision. Already it's having an impact. You can buy a Halo Sport here for $150 discount.
As for side effects? Daniel said "all data points to a safe product."
Daniel joins us as one of our speakers.
Eat yogurt and be a practicing physician at 94 yrs old
Apparently, yogurt has live bacteria that interacts with microbes in our intestines, writes Steve Bowers, in his book Secrets of the World's Healthiest People. "These 100 trillion microbes produce vitamins, such as B6, B12, and K2. they fight bad bacteria, such as E.coli and salmonellas, and they keep the bowels moving."
One doctor, Murray Grossan, who is 94 yrs old and still practicing, eats yogurt every day. In addition, yogurt may reduce weight gain, which is always good to prevent diabetes, and heart conditions. Yogurt with probiotics is even better. That means the yogurt has to have live and active cultures - which also means these yogurts are always refrigerated. Look at the label and it should say it contains these cultures. Some may even have a National Yogurt Association’s (NYA) “Live and Active Culture” seal. The best brands are Chobani, Dannon, Yoplait, Fage, Stonyfield, Siggi. Also make sure the yogurt isn't full of sugar. Make sure it has no more than 30 grams of sugar, max 200 calories and 6 grams of protein or more.
One in eight women will have breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is a "hormonally-driven cancer" and needs estrogen in order to grow, which is why it's more common in women, said Jennifer Specht, an oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a research division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
But while about 266,000 women are estimated to have breast cancer in 2018, only 15 percent will die from it. The median age is 62. Breast cancer has no symptoms. One of the most common earliest signs is a painless lump in the breast. Or changes to the breast like dimpling or puckering. Or if a nipple is retracted or inverted.
Here are some lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors you can control:
- Minimize alcohol intake
- Don't be overweight
- Stay active and exercise
- Having kids later in life raises risk
- Do breastfeed
- Birth control raises risk
- Hormone therapy after menopause raises risk
Factors you can't control: Being a woman, getting old, inherited genes, family history of breast cancer, race and ethnicity (incidents are highest among white women but death rates are highest among African Americans), getting period early, going through menopause after 55, having had radiation to your chest, exposure to DES (synthetic form of estrogen).
When life kicks you: let it kick you forward
Sylvie Leotin is a bright, educated and successful woman. She holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Stanford. And she's a gold-medal ballerina. A few years ago, she found out she had breast cancer.
Not to be held back, she didn't fold the cards she was dealt, but played them. She used adversity to give her strength. She writes about her journey on her blog.
What's most encouraging is how this computer scientist admits that she thought a "rational" mind could understand this world. It can't. The heart plays a big role too, particularly in accepting our fate and embracing hope.
For Sylvie her lifestyle behavioral choice was to take to writing and helping others who are going through pain themselves.
Here's an excerpt from her blog.
"Cancer has kicked and transformed me in many ways. Some are still unfolding. I looked at my website and realized that I could not go back to what I was doing before. So here am I starting anew. A new blog. A clean plate. A new adventure. I’ve kept the domain, but removed all its content – except for one poem. Writing essays that don’t engage my heart seems sterile now, as a cancer patient. As if one could separate one’s mind, from one’s body and heart. More than ever, the experience of cancer give me the visceral understanding that they are all connected. (And we are all connected).
I joined a writing group for cancer patients. There I discovered a new voice I had never given space to speak up before. Out of fear of sharing my vulnerability. Or out of delusion. I mistakenly thought that a rational mind was enough to comprehend the world. (Isn’t it what our education teaches us?) When I made space from my heart to speak up, I was surprised to discover what came out, and how my writing touched others."
Healthy lifestyle and cancer prevention go hand in hand
Ummm. Steak cooked medium rare. It's not my favorite. I'm more of a well-done steak person, when I have it. But for many, this is the preparation of choice.
If this is you, you might think twice. Diets that are high in fat, alcohol and red-meat consumption have been associated with the development of endometrial, breast, ovarian and colon cancer.
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate the body. It's the second leading cause of death in the world.
Cancer is the result of DNA mutations inside cells. You may be born with a genetic mutation inherited from your parents though these mutations account for a small percent of cancers, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most gene mutations occur after birth and are triggered by behaviors and environmental factors, such as smoking, radiation, chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, chronic inflammation and lack of exercise.
"No one is immune, but research has shown that nearly half of all cancers can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle," said Aimee Allen, ANP, Christus St. Patrick Hematology and Oncology Clinic, in an article published in American Press. "This includes incorporating moderate amounts of exercise, diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables, limiting red meat and processed food consumption, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
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Halo Neuroscience develops neurotechnology to unlock human potential. Our first product, Halo Sport, applies transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the motor cortex during athletic training, resulting in accelerated gains in strength, endurance, and skill. Halo Sport is now live with teams and athletes from the U.S. military, Olympics, NFL, NBA MLB, and the NCAA. Our long-term goal is to build a suite of Halo products that will use neurostimulation to optimize both human performance and human health. The company was founded in 2013, is based in San Francisco and has raised $27M in venture funding from top tier firms such as TPG, Lux Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.