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Michael Hunter, MD
11 months ago
5 Drugs That May Increase Your Risk of Dementia
While our genes can't be changed easily, you can avoid some dementia risk factors. Today we discuss dementia and five drugs that may increase risk.
Memory loss appears to come with age, but we're not talking about forgetfulness. Sometimes losing your car keys isn't an indication of dementia. Dementia impairs the capacity to think, remember, or make judgments. Dementia hinders daily tasks.
Alzheimers is the most common dementia. Dementia is not normal aging, unlike forgetfulness. Aging increases the risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias. A family history of the illness increases your risk, according to the Mayo Clinic (USA).
Given that our genes are difficult to change (I won't get into epigenetics), what are some avoidable dementia risk factors? Certain drugs may cause cognitive deterioration.
Today we look at four drugs that may cause cognitive decline.
Dementia and benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepine sedatives increase brain GABA levels. Example benzodiazepines:
Diazepam (Valium) (Valium)
Alprazolam (Xanax) (Xanax)
Clonazepam (Klonopin) (Klonopin)
Addiction and overdose are benzodiazepine risks. Yes! These medications don't raise dementia risk.
USC study: Benzodiazepines don't increase dementia risk in older adults.
Benzodiazepines can produce short- and long-term amnesia. This memory loss hinders memory formation. Extreme cases can permanently impair learning and memory. Anterograde amnesia is uncommon.
2. Statins and dementia
Statins reduce cholesterol. They prevent a cholesterol-making chemical. Examples:
Atorvastatin (Lipitor) (Lipitor)
Fluvastatin (Lescol XL) (Lescol XL)
Lovastatin (Altoprev) (Altoprev)
Pitavastatin (Livalo, Zypitamag) (Livalo, Zypitamag)
Pravastatin (Pravachol) (Pravachol)
Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor) (Crestor, Ezallor)
Simvastatin (Zocor) (Zocor)
This finding is contentious. Harvard's Brigham and Womens Hospital's Dr. Joann Manson says:
“I think that the relationship between statins and cognitive function remains controversial. There’s still not a clear conclusion whether they help to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, have neutral effects, or increase risk.”
This one's off the dementia list.
3. Dementia and anticholinergic drugs
Anticholinergic drugs treat many conditions, including urine incontinence. Drugs inhibit acetylcholine (a brain chemical that helps send messages between cells). Acetylcholine blockers cause drowsiness, disorientation, and memory loss.
First-generation antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, and overactive bladder antimuscarinics are common anticholinergics among the elderly.
Anticholinergic drugs may cause dementia. One study found that taking anticholinergics for three years or more increased the risk of dementia by 1.54 times compared to three months or less. After stopping the medicine, the danger may continue.
4. Drugs for Parkinson's disease and dementia
Cleveland Clinic (USA) on Parkinson's:
Parkinson's disease causes age-related brain degeneration. It causes delayed movements, tremors, and balance issues. Some are inherited, but most are unknown. There are various treatment options, but no cure.
Parkinson's medications can cause memory loss, confusion, delusions, and obsessive behaviors. The drug's effects on dopamine cause these issues.
A 2019 JAMA Internal Medicine study found powerful anticholinergic medications enhance dementia risk.
Those who took anticholinergics had a 1.5 times higher chance of dementia. Individuals taking antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, overactive bladder drugs, and anti-epileptic drugs had the greatest risk of dementia.
Anticholinergic medicines can lessen Parkinson's-related tremors, but they slow cognitive ability. Anticholinergics can cause disorientation and hallucinations in those over 70.
5. Antiepileptic drugs and dementia
The risk of dementia from anti-seizure drugs varies with drugs. Levetiracetam (Keppra) improves Alzheimer's cognition.
One study linked different anti-seizure medications to dementia. Anti-epileptic medicines increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 1.15 times in the Finnish sample and 1.3 times in the German population. Depakote, Topamax are drugs.
1 year ago
Did volcanic 'glasses' play a role in igniting early life?
Quenched lava may have aided in the formation of long RNA strands required by primitive life.
It took a long time for life to emerge. Microbes were present 3.7 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the 4.5-billion-year-old Earth had cooled enough to sustain biochemistry, according to fossils, and many scientists believe RNA was the genetic material for these first species. RNA, while not as complicated as DNA, would be difficult to forge into the lengthy strands required to transmit genetic information, raising the question of how it may have originated spontaneously.
Researchers may now have a solution. They demonstrate how basaltic glasses assist individual RNA letters, also known as nucleoside triphosphates, join into strands up to 200 letters long in lab studies. The glasses are formed when lava is quenched in air or water, or when melted rock generated by asteroid strikes cools rapidly, and they would have been plentiful in the early Earth's fire and brimstone.
The outcome has caused a schism among top origin-of-life scholars. "This appears to be a great story that finally explains how nucleoside triphosphates react with each other to create RNA strands," says Thomas Carell, a scientist at Munich's Ludwig Maximilians University. However, Harvard University's Jack Szostak, an RNA expert, says he won't believe the results until the study team thoroughly describes the RNA strands.
Researchers interested in the origins of life like the idea of a primordial "RNA universe" since the molecule can perform two different functions that are essential for life. It's made up of four chemical letters, just like DNA, and can carry genetic information. RNA, like proteins, can catalyze chemical reactions that are necessary for life.
However, RNA can cause headaches. No one has yet discovered a set of plausible primordial conditions that would cause hundreds of RNA letters—each of which is a complicated molecule—to join together into strands long enough to support the intricate chemistry required to kick-start evolution.
Basaltic glasses may have played a role, according to Stephen Mojzsis, a geologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They're high in metals like magnesium and iron, which help to trigger a variety of chemical reactions. "Basaltic glass was omnipresent on Earth at the time," he adds.
He provided the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution samples of five different basalt glasses. Each sample was ground into a fine powder, sanitized, and combined with a solution of nucleoside triphosphates by molecular biologist Elisa Biondi and her colleagues. The RNA letters were unable to link up without the presence of glass powder. However, when the molecules were mixed with the glass particles, they formed long strands of hundreds of letters, according to the researchers, who published their findings in Astrobiology this week. There was no need for heat or light. Biondi explains, "All we had to do was wait." After only a day, little RNA strands produced, yet the strands continued to grow for months. Jan Paek, a molecular biologist at Firebird Biomolecular Sciences, says, "The beauty of this approach is its simplicity." "Mix the components together, wait a few days, and look for RNA."
Nonetheless, the findings pose a slew of problems. One of the questions is how nucleoside triphosphates came to be in the first place. Recent study by Biondi's colleague Steven Benner suggests that the same basaltic glasses may have aided in the creation and stabilization of individual RNA letters.
The form of the lengthy RNA strands, according to Szostak, is a significant challenge. Enzymes in modern cells ensure that most RNAs form long linear chains. RNA letters, on the other hand, can bind in complicated branching sequences. Szostak wants the researchers to reveal what kind of RNA was produced by the basaltic glasses. "It irritates me that the authors made an intriguing initial finding but then chose to follow the hype rather than the research," Szostak says.
Biondi acknowledges that her team's experiment almost probably results in some RNA branching. She does acknowledge, however, that some branched RNAs are seen in species today, and that analogous structures may have existed before the origin of life. Other studies carried out by the study also confirmed the presence of lengthy strands with connections, indicating that they are most likely linear. "It's a healthy argument," says Dieter Braun, a Ludwig Maximilian University origin-of-life chemist. "It will set off the next series of tests."
1 year ago
Thanks to a recent development, solar energy may prove to be the best energy source.
Perovskite solar cells will revolutionize everything.
Humanity is in a climatic Armageddon. Our widespread ecological crimes of the previous century are catching up with us, and planet-scale karma threatens everyone. We must adjust to new technologies and lifestyles to avoid this fate. Even solar power, a renewable energy source, has climate problems. A recent discovery could boost solar power's eco-friendliness and affordability. Perovskite solar cells are amazing.
Perovskite is a silicon-like semiconductor. Semiconductors are used to make computer chips, LEDs, camera sensors, and solar cells. Silicon makes sturdy and long-lasting solar cells, thus it's used in most modern solar panels.
Perovskite solar cells are far better. First, they're easy to make at room temperature, unlike silicon cells, which require long, intricate baking processes. This makes perovskite cells cheaper to make and reduces their carbon footprint. Perovskite cells are efficient. Most silicon panel solar farms are 18% efficient, meaning 18% of solar radiation energy is transformed into electricity. Perovskite cells are 25% efficient, making them 38% more efficient than silicon.
However, perovskite cells are nowhere near as durable. A normal silicon panel will lose efficiency after 20 years. The first perovskite cells were ineffective since they lasted barely minutes.
Recent research from Princeton shows that perovskite cells can endure 30 years. The cells kept their efficiency, therefore no sacrifices were made.
No electrical or chemical engineer here, thus I can't explain how they did it. But strangely, the team said longevity isn't the big deal. In the next years, perovskite panels will become longer-lasting. How do you test a panel if you only have a month or two? This breakthrough technique needs a uniform method to estimate perovskite life expectancy fast. The study's key milestone was establishing a standard procedure.
Lab-based advanced aging tests are their solution. Perovskite cells decay faster at higher temperatures, so scientists can extrapolate from that. The test heated the panel to 110 degrees and waited for its output to reduce by 20%. Their panel lasted 2,100 hours (87.5 days) before a 20% decline.
They did some math to extrapolate this data and figure out how long the panel would have lasted in different climates, and were shocked to find it would last 30 years in Princeton. This made perovskite panels as durable as silicon panels. This panel could theoretically be sold today.
This technology will soon allow these brilliant panels to be released into the wild. This technology could be commercially viable in ten, maybe five years.
Solar power will be the best once it does. Solar power is cheap and low-carbon. Perovskite is the cheapest renewable energy source if we switch to it. Solar panel manufacturing's carbon footprint will also drop.
Perovskites' impact goes beyond cost and carbon. Silicon panels require harmful mining and contain toxic elements (cadmium). Perovskite panels don't require intense mining or horrible materials, making their production and expiration more eco-friendly.
Solar power destroys habitat. Massive solar farms could reduce biodiversity and disrupt local ecology by destroying vital habitats. Perovskite cells are more efficient, so they can shrink a solar farm while maintaining energy output. This reduces land requirements, making perovskite solar power cheaper, and could reduce solar's environmental impact.
Perovskite solar power is scalable and environmentally friendly. Princeton scientists will speed up the development and rollout of this energy.
Why bother with fusion, fast reactors, SMRs, or traditional nuclear power? We're close to developing a nearly perfect environmentally friendly power source, and we have the tools and systems to do so quickly. It's also affordable, so we can adopt it quickly and let the developing world use it to grow. Even I struggle to justify spending billions on fusion when a great, cheap technology outperforms it. Perovskite's eco-credentials and cost advantages could save the world and power humanity's future.
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1 year ago
Trading Volume on OpenSea Drops by 99% as the NFT Boom Comes to an End
Wasn't that a get-rich-quick scheme?
OpenSea processed $2.7 billion in NFT transactions in May 2021.
Fueled by a crypto bull run, rumors of unfathomable riches, and FOMO, Bored Apes, Crypto Punks, and other JPEG-format trash projects flew off the virtual shelves, snatched up by retail investors and celebrities alike.
Over a year later, those shelves are overflowing and warehouses are backlogged. Since March, I've been writing less. In May and June, the bubble was close to bursting.
Apparently, the boom has finally peaked.
This bubble has punctured, and deflation has begun. On Aug. 28, OpenSea processed $9.34 million.
From that euphoric high of $2.7 billion, $9.34 million represents a spectacular decline of 99%.
OpenSea contradicts the data. A trading platform spokeswoman stated the comparison is unfair because it compares the site's highest and lowest trading days. They're the perfect two data points to assess the drop. OpenSea chooses to use ETH volume measures, which ignore crypto's shifting price. Since January 2022, monthly ETH volume has dropped 140%, according to Dune.
Further OpenSea indicators point to declining NFT demand:
Since January 2022, daily user visits have decreased by 50%.
Daily transactions have decreased by 50% since the beginning of the year in the same manner.
Off-platform, the floor price of Bored Apes has dropped from 145 ETH to 77 ETH. (At $4,800, a reduction from $700,000 to $370,000). Google search data shows waning popular interest.
It is a trend that will soon vanish, just like laser eyes.
NFTs haven't moved since the new year. Eminem and Snoop Dogg can utilize their apes in music videos or as 3D visuals to perform at the VMAs, but the reality is that NFTs have lost their public appeal and the market is trying to regain its footing.
They've lost popularity because?
Breaking records. The technology still lacks genuine use cases a year and a half after being popular.
They're pricey prestige symbols that have made a few people rich through cunning timing or less-than-savory scams or rug pulling. Over $10.5 billion has been taken through frauds, most of which are NFT enterprises promising to be the next Bored Apes, according to Web3 is going wonderfully. As the market falls, many ordinary investors realize they purchased into a self-fulfilling ecosystem that's halted. Many NFTs are sold between owner-held accounts to boost their price, data suggests. Most projects rely on social media excitement to debut with a high price before the first owners sell and chuckle to the bank. When they don't, the initiative fails, leaving investors high and dry.
NFTs are fading like laser eyes. Most people pushing the technology don't believe in it or the future it may bring. No, they just need a Kool-Aid-drunk buyer.
Everybody wins. When your JPEGs are worth 99% less than when you bought them, you've lost.
When demand reaches zero, many will lose.
10 months ago
Notion AI Might Destroy Grammarly and Jasper
The trick Notion could use is simply Facebook-ing the hell out of them.
*Time travel to fifteen years ago.* Future-Me: “Hey! What are you up to?” Old-Me: “I am proofreading an article. It’s taking a few hours, but I will be done soon.” Future-Me: “You know, in the future, you will be using a google chrome plugin called Grammarly that will help you easily proofread articles in half that time.” Old-Me: “What is… Google Chrome?” Future-Me: “Gosh…”
I love Grammarly. It’s one of those products that I personally feel the effects of. I mean, Space X is a great company. But I am not a rocket writing this article in space (or am I?)…
No, I’m not. So I don’t personally feel a connection to Space X. So, if a company collapse occurs in the morning, I might write about it. But I will have zero emotions regarding it.
Yet, if Grammarly fails tomorrow, I will feel 1% emotionally distressed. So looking at the title of this article, you’d realize that I am betting against them. This is how much I believe in the critical business model that’s taking over the world, the one of Notion.
Notion How frequently do you go through your notes?
Grammarly is everywhere, which helps its success. Grammarly is available when you update LinkedIn on Chrome. Grammarly prevents errors in Google Docs.
My internal concentration isn't apparent in the previous paragraph. Not Grammarly. I should have used Chrome to make a Google doc and LinkedIn update. Without this base, Grammarly will be useless.
So, welcome to this business essay.
Grammarly provides a solution.
Another issue is resolved by Jasper.
Your entire existence is supposed to be contained within Notion.
New Google Chrome is offline. It's an all-purpose notepad (in the near future.)
How should I start my blog? Enter it in Note.
an update on LinkedIn? If you mention it, it might be automatically uploaded there (with little help from another app.)
An advanced thesis? You can brainstorm it with your coworkers.
This ad sounds great! I won't cry if Notion dies tomorrow.
I'll reread the following passages to illustrate why I think Notion could kill Grammarly and Jasper.
Notion is a fantastic app that incubates your work.
Smartly, they began with note-taking.
Hopefully, your work will be on Notion. Grammarly and Jasper are still must-haves.
Grammarly will proofread your typing while Jasper helps with copywriting and AI picture development.
They're the best, therefore you'll need them. Correct? Nah.
Notion might bombard them with Facebook posts.
Notion: “Hi Grammarly, do you want to sell your product to us?” Grammarly: “Dude, we are more valuable than you are. We’ve even raised $400m, while you raised $342m. Our last valuation round put us at $13 billion, while yours put you at $10 billion. Go to hell.” Notion: “Okay, we’ll speak again in five years.”
Notion: “Jasper, wanna sell?” Jasper: “Nah, we’re deep into AI and the field. You can’t compete with our people.” Notion: “How about you either sell or you turn into a Snapchat case?” Jasper: “…”
Notion is your home. Grammarly is your neighbor. Your track is Jasper.
What if you grew enough vegetables in your backyard to avoid the supermarket? No more visits.
What if your home had a beautiful treadmill? You won't rush outside as much (I disagree with my own metaphor). (You get it.)
It's Facebooking. Instagram Stories reduced your Snapchat usage. Notion will reduce your need to use Grammarly.
The Final Piece of the AI Puzzle
Let's talk about Notion first, since you've probably read about it everywhere.
They raised $343 million, as I previously reported, and bought four businesses
According to Forbes, Notion will have more than 20 million users by 2022. The number of users is up from 4 million in 2020.
If raising $1.8 billion was impressive, FTX wouldn't have fallen.
This article compares the basic product to two others. Notion is a day-long app.
Notion has released Notion AI to support writers. It's early, so it's not as good as Jasper. Then-Jasper isn't now-Jasper. In five years, Notion AI will be different.
With hard work, they may construct a Jasper-like writing assistant. They have resources and users.
At this point, it's all speculation. Jasper's copywriting is top-notch. Grammarly's proofreading is top-notch. Businesses are constrained by user activities.
If Notion's future business movements are strategic, they might become a blue ocean shark (or get acquired by an unbelievable amount.)
I love business mental teasers, so tell me:
How do you feel? Are you a frequent Notion user?
Do you dispute my position? I enjoy hearing opposing viewpoints.
Ironically, I proofread this with Grammarly.
1 year ago
How I set up my teams to be successful
After 10 years of working in scale-ups, I've embraced a few concepts for scaling Tech and Product teams.
First, cross-functionalize teams. Product Managers represent the business, Product Designers the consumer, and Engineers build.
If more individuals are needed to reach a goal, I group teams under a Product Trio.
With Engineering being the biggest group, Staff/Principal Engineers often support the Trio on cross-team technical decisions.
Product Managers, Engineering Managers, or Engineers in the team may manage projects (depending on the project or aim), but the trio is collectively responsible for the team's output and outcome.
Once the Product Trio model is created, roles, duties, team ceremonies, and cooperation models must be clarified.
Keep reporting lines by discipline. Line managers are accountable for each individual's advancement, thus it's crucial that they know the work in detail.
Cross-team collaboration becomes more important after 3 teams (15-30 people). Teams can easily diverge in how they write code, run ceremonies, and build products.
Establishing groups of people that are cross-team, but grouped by discipline and skills, sharing and agreeing on working practices becomes critical.
The “Spotify Guild” model has been where I’ve taken a lot of my inspiration from.
Last, establish a taxonomy for communication channels.
In Slack, I create one channel per team and one per guild (and one for me to have discussions with the team leads).
These are just some of the basic principles I follow to organize teams.
A book I particularly like about team types and how they interact with each other is https://teamtopologies.com/.