The risks of biohacking?
Biohacking is the activity of modifying, improving, optimizing, or upgrading your body or mind via the use of technology. It is getting more common as the cost of equipment such as genetic engineering kits continues to plummet (1). While there are some undeniable advantages to biohacking, such as increased strength or IQ, there are also some major hazards. One of the most serious risks is that you may wind up hurting yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Implanted devices and monitors
The use of implantable devices is one of the most serious biohacking dangers. Diabetes patients must regularly check their blood sugar levels to ensure that they remain within a healthy range. For many years, this included drawing a little quantity of blood and placing a test strip (with blood on it) into a glucose meter. However, technological advancements have resulted in the introduction of implanted glucose monitors. These sensors are implanted under the skin and continually monitor the quantity of sugar in the interstitial fluid (2). This enables diabetics to precisely check their blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers frequently.
However, if implantation glucose monitors and other implantable biohacking devices are not properly put, they might create issues.
While these devices have numerous advantages, there is a danger of infection (3). Bacteria, which may enter the body via the incision site or the bloodstream, cause the most frequent kind of infection. Infections may also be caused by fungi and viruses, however, these are less frequent.
Redness, swelling, and soreness at the location of the implant are warning signs. Antibiotics are often used in treatment, although in certain circumstances, the device may need to be removed. To limit the risk of infection, it is essential to carefully follow the cleanliness and aftercare guidelines. It is preferable to have the implant placed by a specialist.
Implantable gadgets and monitors that assess vital indicators including heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, hydration, and stress may be very beneficial. They do, however, carry the danger of rejection by the body’s immune system. The body perceives implanted monitors as alien items and may attempt to disassemble them. This might cause inflammation and tissue damage in rare circumstances. There are a few things you may do to lessen your chances of being rejected. Among them are the use of inert materials and the coating of devices with anti-rejection medications. Even with these safeguards, the body has the potential to reject an implanted monitor, which may be unpleasant.
Scar tissue may occur around the site of implantation as a result of implanted devices. This scar tissue may develop thick and stiff in certain situations, making it difficult to remove the device if it has to be replaced. In some circumstances, scar tissue might obstruct the operation of the implanted device, resulting in false results (4). For these reasons, before deciding to have a monitor implanted, it is important to explore the risks of implantation with your doctor.
Another concern associated with implanted monitoring is privacy invasion (5). These gadgets transmit real-time health data, and although this information may be very useful for patients with chronic health issues, it also presents substantial privacy concerns. It is critical to investigate the security of these bio hacks since many do not use encryption. This exposes data to hackers, and if this data falls into the hands of the wrong people, it might be used to exploit weaknesses or blackmail individuals (6).
The technique of changing genes in order to affect the way the body operates is referred to as genetic biohacking. This may be done for a number of purposes, such as boosting physical performance, increasing IQ, or changing one’s look. While genetic biohacking has potential advantages, it also has hazards that should be addressed.
CRISPR, a gene-editing technique, has grown more accessible in recent years, mainly to the availability of DIY kits (7). The disadvantages of utilizing these kits, however, are that they may be exploited to induce dangerous mutations. Furthermore, it is impossible to regulate where the CRISPR changes will occur, which might result in unforeseen repercussions. Someone attempting to edit a single gene, for example, may mistakenly change a neighboring gene as well. This might have serious repercussions since it could lead to the emergence of new illnesses or disorders. It also calls the ethics of modifying genes and DNA into question (8). As a result, before contemplating utilizing a DIY CRISPR kit, it is critical to be informed of the hazards involved.
If you try to edit your own DNA without properly comprehending the process, you risk inflicting irrevocable harm to your long-term health. However, using CRISPR kits to modify human genes is unlawful (9).
When doing genetic biohacking, there is a danger of breaching the law. This is due to the fact that certain governments have regulations that ban or limit the use of certain technologies, including those that may be used for gene editing. In the United States, for example, it is prohibited to make heritable changes to the human genome. This implies that any effort to alter future generations’ DNA would be a violation of federal law. There are additional rules that govern the usage of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and changing an organism’s DNA may fall into this category. It is also illegal to modify your own DNA (10). As a result, before embarking on any genetic biohacking endeavor, it is critical to be informed of the applicable regulations. Failure to do so may result in legal consequences such as fines or even incarceration.
Because certain nootropics are unregistered, you may face legal consequences if you use them. Modafinil, for example, is not approved for the treatment of ADHD (11).
Taking vitamins is another common health body tip. A healthy diet should include vitamins, minerals, and supplements. However, it is possible to consume too much of these nutrients, resulting in an overdose. Overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness, and impaired vision, depending on the nutrient involved (12). An overdose may cause organ damage and even death in extreme circumstances. To prevent these hazards, only consume the recommended quantity of each supplementary vitamin. Many people believe that more vitamins and minerals are better, but this is not always the case. Too much of a good thing may be harmful, therefore it is important to be aware of the hazards before taking any supplements.
Curcumin, the active element in the spice turmeric, for example, is known to have blood-thinning properties (13). Ginger, vitamin E, ginkgo Biloba, and ginseng are some supplements often used by biohackers that might interfere with blood coagulation (14). As a result, these supplements should not be used in high quantities, together, or if you are currently using blood-thinning medicine such as warfarin. There is also a danger of liver damage if too much curcumin is consumed over time (15). Do not fall into the trap of believing that taking more of a supplement would boost its effectiveness. A modest bit is often all that is required to enhance health.
The third concern of bio-hacking is the prevalence of disinformation. There are charlatans and quacks out there seeking to make a fast profit by selling supplements. While biohacking has the potential to improve health, performance, the mind, and body, it is critical that you do extensive research from impartial, competent sources. Then carefully assess the pros and disadvantages, risks and rewards. If at all feasible, seek the opinion of an experienced medical practitioner.
- Top 10 Companies Leveraging Gene Editing in 2018 https://www.genengnews.com/a-lists/top-10-companies-leveraging-gene-editing/
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/11444-glucose-continuous-glucose-monitoring
- Implantable Device Related Infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110396/
- Blocking scar tissue formation around medical device implants https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/blocking-scar-tissue-formation-around-medical-device-implants
- Biohacking: An exploratory study to understand the factors influencing the adoption of embedded technologies within the human body https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7226663/#bib1
- Critical flaw lets hackers control lifesaving devices implanted inside patients https://bit.ly/3reoRDE
- Mail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mail-order-crispr-kits-allow-absolutely-anyone-to-hack-dna/
- What are the Ethical Concerns of Genome Editing? https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/policy-issues/Genome-Editing/ethical-concerns
- Is it time to regulate biohacking? California thinks so. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/8/13/20802059/california-crispr-biohacking-illegal-josiah-zayner
- Focus On: Biohacking https://www.rsb.org.uk/biologist-features/focus-on-biohacking
- Modafinil https://www.additudemag.com/medication/modafinil/
- Multiple vitamin overdose https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/multiple-vitamin-overdose
- Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivatives https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22531131/
- Anticoagulant activity of select dietary supplements https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andrew-Young-9/publication/221801456_Anticoagulant_activity_of_select_dietary_supplements/links/5b0578700f7e9b1ed7e812bb/Anticoagulant-activity-of-select-dietary-supplements.pdf
- Overdose Intake of Curcumin Initiates the Unbalanced State of Bodies https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26978516/