Science & Spirit: Moody Skin, Tiny Tech, and Genetic Mutations

Science & Spirit: Moody Skin, Tiny Tech, and Genetic Mutations

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Explore the powerful relationship between skin and mental health, dig into tiny technology that can change lives, and discover the future of cancer research.

A Three-“Ome” View of Cancer

Cancer isn’t as determined by genetics as once thought. In fact, cancer caused strictly by genetics (the genome) is rare. External factors (the exposome) are hugely important but aren‘t the full story either. A third “-ome” is important, too, even though it is seldom given enough weight. It’s called the metabolome and refers to a “genetically reprogrammed, cancer-specific metabolism.”

You may hear a lot more about the three -omes in the future. A new study from the University of Alberta reports that “as cancer develops and spreads in the body, it creates its own environment and introduces certain metabolites.” In other words: “It becomes a self-fuelled disease. And that’s where cancer as a metabolic disorder becomes really important,” according to the lead author, David Wishart.

It’s all about stopping cancer early. “The multi-omics perspective, in which the genome, exposome and metabolome are all considered in unison when thinking about cancer, is showing promise for finding treatments and for overcoming the limitations of looking at only one of these factors.”

[Read: Cancer and Canopy: The Healing Power of Forest Bathing.”]

Moody Skin and Mental Health

The health of our skin plays a gigantic role in our emotional wellbeing. A recent review of 20 different studies, conducted at Kunming Medical University in China, shows a 63 percent increased risk of depression and anxiety for people with eczema. Disruptions to sleep, intense itching, hormonal disruptions, social isolation, and low self-esteem are just a few symptoms that challenge the mental health of those with atopic dermatitis.

“Treating the mental health component of eczema alongside the physical symptoms is crucial to maximize treatment benefits”, stated Dr. Vivian Shi, a dermatologist at the University of Arkansas. Research has found that talking openly about skin conditions can be helpful in alleviating mental health challenges, especially for children. It’s also important for people to build a positive support system that uplifts their self-esteem. In addition to asking for help, the National Eczema Association recommends stress-relief techniques such as journaling, walking, mindfulness, and yoga.

Tiny Tech Might Change Lives

Thinking big; going tiny! A device the size of a grain of rice could treat chronic pain and neurological disease. This life-changing technology is a nerve stimulator named MagnetoElectric Bio ImplanT—aka ME-BIT.

Nature Biomedical Engineering recently revealed this new tech, which has been tested in rats and pigs. It might be able to replace much larger devices that are used to stimulate nerves. These larger devices have a tendency to cause severe reactions that can lead to the device being removed. ME-BIT, which can be inserted into a blood vessel, could be used to treat Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, hearing loss, and paralysis.

For more Science & Spirit, check out: “Psychedelics, High Blood Pressure, and Raw Chicken.”

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