Lifestyle Versus Genetics

Question: What lifestyle changes can we make to improve our overall health?

H Robert Silverstein: If I gave one piece of advice to the world about how to avoid diseases, I would say have clear lines of definition and demarcation.  And that makes it sound like I’m recommending exercise as number one, because I want the absence of fat under the skin.  I think that is the single most powerful generator of most diseases.  It affects cholesterol.  It affects triglycerides.  It affects diabetes – therefore dialysis; therefore blindness; therefore amputations.  It affects cancers and so on.  So the best way to do that is, of course, to put diet and exercise together.

As far as immunizations, frankly that’s a question.  In our culture that is mostly immunized, those people who choose not to get immunized are sort of living off the benefits of those who did, because the disease incidence is low.  But there have been several studies to show that whooping cough epidemics have begun to occur in those populations who have not been immunized, or adequately immunized, or recently enough been immunized.  And whooping cough is nothing to fool around with.  Frankly my children are grown, and I don’t know what I would do if the question were asked me now, “Do you want your kids immunized for all of the things they’re doing?”  I will say this.  I would spread it out a little bit.  I don’t think you need to jump in the first week or month and start the immunization process.

As for seat belts and, you know, avoiding too much sun and enhanced melanoma, you should be in the sun.  Vitamin D levels are very low in our culture.  You should be in the sun before 11 o’clock or after 1:30.  And you need a great deal . . .  You need a high vitamin D level.  You should not avoid the sun.  You should be in the sun.  What’s happened if you’ve already developed a skin cancer of some variety?  Then you really need to think about taking vitamin D as a supplementation.  In our western culture, I think virtually everybody should probably be on vitamin D.  I’ve never seen one person who had a 25 hydroxy vitamin D level of 80, which is considered more or less the best level.  Everybody in my practice of thousands of patients is below that number.  So I think just across the board people need vitamin D.  I’ve seen a few people in the seventies, but not many.

Question: How do genetics affect personal health?

H Robert Silverstein: Everybody has a genetic predisposition to develop multiple disorders.  But those disorders occur if and only if the person does what’s necessary to express that weakness.  So those people who are exercising adequately . . .  Virtually everyone who follows an organic, unprocessed, whole foods diet at the 87.5 percent level, and who exercises and hour a day is going to have the kind of physique that I’ve just recommended.  And of course that’s a lot of time and people say, “Who has the time?”  Pay me now or pay me later.  Do what you’re supposed to, and then you’ll find out that you’ll avoid diseases, doctor visits, high co-pays, high health insurance, being rated by your insurance, having surgery and so on and so on.  So if you put the time in now . . .  It’s sort of like an education.  If you put the time in now, you get the benefit down the road.

Question: How can we keep serious diseases at bay?

H Robert Silverstein: Men over 40 should get a rectal examination for cancer of the prostate.  I think thermography is a better way for women to go than mammograms.  It’s a heat registering technique that gives no radiation.  There is a time and a place for a mammogram.  There is a time and a place for an MRI.  And of course now the big, hot news about CAT scans and so on is that they are cancer generating in about one in 500.  So people over the age of 50 should get a colonoscopy.  People should be doing stool blood for globin – G-L-O-B-I-N – or what’s called __________ blood to detect cancers of the bowel.  If you have stomach distress and intolerance, you might need to be checked for a bug in your stomach called ___________ or wheat allergy called Celiac disease.  So these are some of the kinds of things.  But everybody should get their cholesterol checked.  Everybody should get their diabetes checked.  There are 25 diabetes tests called an A1C.  They should get cholesterol, which should be less than 150; triglycerides, which should be less than 100; A1C, which should be less than 5.5; 25 hydroxy D3, which should be right around 80.  And those are some of the biochemical tests that might be of interest for people.  But we’ve mentioned a colonoscopy, mammogram, rectal examination, Pap and pelvic for women.  I do think that as much as I have hesitancy about the injection of foreign proteins called immunizations, if I had a daughter I probably would want her immunized for HPV.  But again I wouldn’t rush into it.  But once she became sexually active, I would certainly wanna have a discussion until she made a final decision.  Now whether or not it should be my decision at this point she doesn’t have a voice in, that is a different discussion.

A healthy lifestyle has the power to keep genetic predispositions to diseases at bay.

Study helps explain why motivation to learn declines with age

Research suggests that aging affects a brain circuit critical for learning and decision-making.

Photo by Reinhart Julian on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

As people age, they often lose their motivation to learn new things or engage in everyday activities. In a study of mice, MIT neuroscientists have now identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining this kind of motivation.

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New brain scan analysis tool can detect early signs of dementia

Researchers develop the first objective tool for assessing the onset of cognitive decline through the measurement of white spots in the brain.

Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
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This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

End gerrymandering? Here’s a radical solution

Why not just divide the United States in slices of equal population?

Image: u/curiouskip, reproduced with kind permission.
Strange Maps
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