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Oct 192016

(NC) Many people have questions about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here are some of the most popular, with answers from experts in the know.619-00764267

Do GMOs cause cancer?

The short answer is no, according to Dr. Kevin Folta, a professor in horticultural sciences at the University of Florida. He says there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer. In fact, the opposite might soon be true, he says — future generations of GMO foods may actually help prevent cancer and other common or chronic illnesses. While a study claiming GMOs caused cancer in lab rats garnered global attention when it was released, the researcher’s work has since been widely discredited and subsequently retracted.

Are GMOs increasing the price of food?

No. Food prices are affected by many things, including weather and the price of fuel and labour. GMOs are actually helping to keep food prices as low as possible because they let farmers grow more while using fewer inputs. A 2010 study estimated corn-based products would cost six per cent more and soybean-based products 10 per cent more if no GMO varieties of these crops were grown. Study author Graham Brookes, an agricultural economist, says the real price of food and feed has fallen consistently during the last 50 years, due largely to improved productivity.

Are there GMOs in my meat if livestock eats feeds with GMO?

Genetically engineered crops are digested by animals in the same way as conventional crops, says Alison Van Eenennaam of the University of California, Davis. Livestock in North America have been consuming feed made from GMO crops for almost 20 years. In that time, no GMOs have ever been detected in the milk, meat or eggs derived from animals consuming GMO feed. The process involved in livestock digestion of the feed makes it very unlikely for any of the crop to be found in the meat.

Oct 182016

(BPT) – Everyone knows it is important to save for retirement in order to build a nest egg and enjoy the “golden years.” So why is it that state and local governments many times act irresponsibly when it comes to saving for the future of public employees?boomers

Government pensions are the way in which state and local public employees like teachers, police officers and firefighters receive retirement benefits. Typically both the employee and the government set aside money each year to be invested. The investments will hopefully grow over time, and both the annual contributions and the investment growth is understood to form the pool of money public employees will be able to use once they reach retirement. That’s the theory.

Unfortunately, according to Unaccountable and Unaffordable 2016, a new, state-by state analysis from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), government pensions are being massively underfunded across the states, and now hardworking taxpayers are on the hook. What is the price tag? Across the 50 states, unfunded pension obligations now total $5.6 trillion. Now, that number sounds large at a national scale, but what does it mean for the average American? To be exact, this state pension debt equates to an average price tag of $17,427 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

There are numerous reasons why pension liabilities are so large. For one, the stock market is not growing as quickly as many assumed it would, exiting the recent economic downturn. Therefore, investments for many pension funds are not meeting expectations. The average pension fund assumes they will earn a whopping 7.37 percent on their investments over the long term. These overly-optimistic assumptions fly in the face of what many financial experts are calling a “new normal” of lower than expected investment earnings in the future.

Another inconvenient truth is that many state governments have failed to deposit the annually required contributions into pension funds every year. The urge to spend more money on other government projects, however well intentioned, has diverted much-needed contributions away from pensions and has contributed significantly to unfunded liabilities.

When pensions are unstable, millions of Americans are faced with an uncertain retirement. However, this is not only a problem for government workers – it affects all Americans. Without a sustainable solution to underfunded pensions, higher taxes will be the reality for all hardworking taxpayers.

What’s more, an increasing percentage of state budgets are being drained to pay pension benefits, with less money available for important functions like funding public schools and fixing roads. One especially sobering story comes from Illinois, where since 2009, this trend is so extreme that 89 cents out of every new dollar of education spending has gone to teacher pensions, leaving just 11 cents for salaries, textbooks, building costs and the various in-classroom costs of education. And by 2025, Illinois will spend more on teacher-retirement costs than it will spend on the classroom.

Pension funding is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It’s a retirement issue that affects all Americans. Unfunded pension liabilities will be harmful to the future of workers, retirees and taxpayers alike, if forward-thinking policymakers do not tackle pension reform in a timely fashion.

To find out more about how prepared your state is and to see the full report, Unaccountable and Unaffordable 2016, is available at

Oct 172016

(NC) With shorter days and dropping temperatures, now is the ideal time to do one final roundhouse of yard and garage maintenance before it’s too late. “It’s human nature for many of us to put these types of chores off to the very last minute,” shares Katie McConnell, customer service with The Libman Company, a family-owned business that’s been making quality cleaning tools since 1896. “But with the right tools, sufficient time, and a good attitude, you’ll be glad you made the effort when spring arrives.”

To set yourself up for success, here’s what the pros recommend:

  1. A good scrub: Outdoor patios, concrete walkways, stone paths, and front porches see a lot of foot traffic throughout the year. Dirt, debris, grass cuttings, leaves, mud, moss, and even mould all contribute to surfaces that need a good scrubbing before temperatures dip and then become icy.

  2. Don’t forget the garage: While you’re at it, be sure to give a final wash to the floor of your garage. From oil and grease to scuffs, chalk, and even garbage, this space is as important to wash as the outdoor surfaces. Be sure to leave snow removal tools handy, and check that you have ice melting salt on hand so the first winter storm doesn’t catch you unprepared.

  3. A clean sweep: Give outdoor and garage surfaces a sweep with a push broom to remove any excess dirt and debris. Look for a multi-surface heavy duty push broom for convenience and one with a durable resin bracket for extra leverage.

  4. The little things: Don’t just focus your energy on the big things — be sure to clean and scrub garden tools, sports equipment, outdoor furniture, and lighting. A scrub brush with an easy grip handle will alleviate cramping as you get into tight corners and hard-to reach places.

  5. Let the sun shine: Clean windows aren’t just for the warmer weather. In fact, with limited daylight in the cooler months, sunshine seeping into the home is more important than ever. Use an ergonomic Libman sponge mop with your favourite cleaning solution to comfortably and efficiently wash windows outside without straining your back.

Oct 152016

(NC) You may not be able to do anything about the price of gas, but you can still save yourself a bundle if you’re smart. Affordable driving can be as easy as avoiding these five gas-wasting habits everyone falls prey to sometimes.c40a8cb15de1451a8b7d718e38a0f7dc

  1. The red light trap. Nobody likes getting stuck at a red, and it’s so tempting to floor the gas and get back underway. But aggressive acceleration pushes your engine harder than normal driving and sucks back gulps of gas with each burst of speed. Take it easy when the light turns green — your engine and wallet will both thank you. Don’t worry about racing the guy next to you to the next red light, just relax.

  2. Over-driving. It feels intuitive to constantly monitor and adjust your speed to gain any advantage on the road. But even small constant speed changes can skyrocket your gas use. Pick a speed that works for the situation, sit back, stay at that speed and use your extra focus to keep an eye on traffic ahead to avoid unnecessary stopping.

  3. The bumper-to-bumper pitfall. Not only does getting caught up in the middle of traffic feel awful, it wreaks havoc on your mileage, too. All that starting, stopping, speed changing, and sudden braking to avoid that guy on his phone you just noticed — it’s sucking money right out of your wallet. You can save yourself cash and aggravation by keeping your eyes far up ahead to get an early heads-up on any situations you may have to deal with.

  4. NASCAR driving. The faster you go, the more gas you need to keep up those high speeds. Going from 100 km/h to 120 km/h drinks up about 20 percent more gas. Allow for a few more minutes of smart driving in your trip and arrive happier and richer.

  5. The braking trap. We’re hardwired as drivers to follow a simple equation: gas equals go, brake equals stop. But we can fool ourselves into also thinking brake equals slow. It’s far easier and cheaper to just coast when you want to slow down. Give yourself a little time to cool off your speed when you see the next light turn red. The slower you’re going when you need to apply the brakes, the less force they need to stop you safely. Not only will this save you gas, but your brake pads will thank you, not to mention your passengers.

Find more information online at

Oct 142016

The surprising truth about common menopause misconceptions

(BPT) – Nearly all women will go through menopause at some point in their lives. Often with this29889667 comes a loss of intimacy, one of the biggest – yet least discussed – side effects of menopause. While to some this may seem inevitable, menopause does not need to signify the end of a woman’s sex life.

In honor of Menopause Awareness Month, and the estimated 6,000 women who reach menopause in the U.S. each day, it’s time to shed light on their intimate wellness. Women going through menopause don’t have to live with uncomfortable and discouraging symptoms, and will find relief in some key facts about this important stage in life.

Myth: Women experience menopause in their fifties.

Fact: Menopause actually affects a broad age range of women. While the average age of menopause for U.S. women is 51 years, perimenopause – which refers to the time during which a woman’s body begins to transition in preparation for menopause – can begin as early as mid-30s. Additionally, early onset of menopause can occur as a result of chemical and surgical interventions, such as chemotherapy or hysterectomies.

Myth: Hot flashes and mood swings are the most common menopause symptoms.

Fact: While nearly every woman will experience menopause at some point in her life, not all of them will experience it the same way. According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), as a woman transitions into menopause, lower estrogen levels not only cause hot flashes but have several other effects on the body such as vaginal dryness, which can undermine sexual motivation and drive.

In fact, according to a 2015 Toluna Quick Survey Study of 1,000 postmenopausal women, 75 percent suffer from vaginal dryness to some extent, and 90 percent who responded they suffer from vaginal dryness to a moderate-large extent said the dryness negatively affects their life. This is because peri, menopausal and postmenopausal women often experience VVA (Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy), also known as GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause) – characterized by lesser known symptoms of vaginal dryness, burning, itching, incontinence and painful intercourse.

Myth: Menopause symptoms impacting a woman’s intimacy are permanent.

Fact: Symptoms that affect intimacy can be frustrating for both a woman going through menopause and her partner. However, women who experience these types of symptoms do not need to live with them for the rest of their lives. CO2RE(R) Intima – a simple, quick and effective procedure – is one of the latest innovations in vaginal therapy, helping women with their intimate wellness, particularly with issues surrounding menopause. The procedure delivers both immediate and long-lasting relief in a painless, non-surgical treatment. CO2RE Intima can help treat these symptoms and get a woman’s sex life back on track. Visit to find a physician in your area and to see if treatment is right for you.

Myth: After menopause, a woman’s sex life is never the same.

Fact: Many women remain sexually active beyond midlife and into older age. Some women enjoy their sex lives even more once they are postmenopausal as they no longer need to worry about pregnancy. Additionally, menopause may come at an age when many women are becoming “empty nesters” after sending children off to college, an opportunity for them to reconnect with their partners and reinvigorate their sex lives. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause that may be preventing you from enjoying your sex life, visit to learn more about CO2RE Intima treatment and how it can help restore vaginal health.

Myth: All vaginal rejuvenation treatments are for aesthetic purposes.

Fact: While some women may think that vaginal laser treatment is strictly for cosmetic purposes, in fact, it can help restore women’s intimate wellness by offering a number of functional and clinical benefits. CO2RE Intima is designed for women who want to relieve the signs of childbearing and aging in their vaginal area. This includes post-child bearing and peri and menopausal women, women who desire enhancement in sexual functioning and a better sexual experience, women who seek vaginal cosmetic improvement and women who want to feel more confident about their feminine health.

Rather than an ending, menopause should signify a new beginning in a woman’s life and opportunities for renewed intimacy. Don’t let menopause interrupt your sex life. Now that you know the facts and what CO2RE Intima treatment can offer, you can feel confident about your feminine health throughout your menopausal journey.

Oct 132016

(NC) Colorectal cancer is a serious disease affecting many Canadians. Barry D. Stein, president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and long-term survivor of metastatic colon cancer, discusses the disease and advances in current treatment options and care.heart

  1. It’s fairly common. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. It’s also the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in women. About one in 14 Canadian men and one in 16 Canadian women is expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. This year over 25,100 people will be diagnosed in Canada.

  2. New advances mean more treatment options. Innovation in treatment of colorectal cancer has rapidly evolved over the past few years. This is good news as it means that there are more options for patients. With the development of biomarkers, patients can be treated in accordance with the genetic makeup of their tumour and their individual needs.

  3. Treatment can now be personalized. Personalized or precision medicine means that patients can now be tested and assessed according to the unique genetic makeup of their tumour. For patients with advanced colorectal cancer, these genetic tests can help physicians better tailor the treatments for the patient from the time of their diagnosis.

  4. Genetic testing may play a role in treatment. Genetic testing of a tumour can help predict if a patient diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer is unlikely to respond to a particular treatment. This helps physicians determine at an early stage whether a particular treatment plan is right for the patient or if other treatment options should be considered.

  5. Doing your research helps. If you’ve been diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about genetic testing and how it can play a role in deciding the best treatment options for you.

Find more information at

Oct 102016

(NC) You may have heard something about shingles lately, although you might not be sure what it’s all about or what you should do about it. But it’s especially important that seniors understand the condition, as they experience a higher risk.stroke 2

Each year more than 42,000 people in Ontario, most of whom are seniors, develop shingles. It’s caused by the reactivated varicella zoster virus, the same one that causes chickenpox. The symptoms can be alarming — a painful rash that appears suddenly and for no apparent reason. Even more concerning is that shingles can lead to blindness and prolonged nerve pain.

Fortunately, the Ontario government now covers the cost of the shingles vaccine for those who are highly susceptible to getting the virus — people aged 65 to 70. To ensure that individuals close to the upper age eligibility cut-off have sufficient time to get vaccinated, during the 2016 year any Ontarian who turns 71 (was born in 1945) is also eligible.

Those with shingles often experience pain, tingling, or itching and then a painful rash which can appear anywhere on the body — although it’s usually in one strip on the right or left side. The rash is a group of blisters that dry, scab over, and heal (like chickenpox) in a few weeks. Some people can be left with scars. For others, the rash can last for a month or more and is often severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

Complications from the virus can lead to worse health problems such as loss of vision. The most common complication is prolonged nerve pain called post-herpetic neuralgia. It can last more than 30 days from the onset of shingles and occurs in about 20 per cent of the cases. Neuromuscular disease, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, can also result.

“Eligible seniors can get the free vaccine from their primary care provider,” explains Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health. “If you are eligible, you can save about $170 while making it less likely you’ll have to go to the emergency room for treatment of shingles or stay in hospital because of any complications.”

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

Oct 092016

(NC) Cold temperatures, snow and ice may be the ideal ingredients for a winter wonderland, but winter’s harsh conditions can also wreak havoc on your home. A little preventative maintenance can help lower your energy bills, avoid more costly repairs and/or increase the lifespan of your home. Addressing the following priority items will make the greatest impact:88471h

  1. Insulation. One of the easiest and most effective defences against heat loss is proper insulation. Prevent cold drafts from entering and the loss of heated air through basement headers, which, when left exposed, can make your furnace work harder. Look for a moisture-resistant product with high thermal performance. For this, retailers tell us that Roxul Comfortbatt stone wool insulation is a top seller. It makes installation simple––all that’s needed is a serrated blade or bread knife. Cut the batt to fit the cavity and press into place. The insulation will help improve energy efficiency as soon as it’s in place and provide savings over the lifetime of your home. Comfortbatt can also be used to top or replace old attic insulation. Aim for an R-value of 50 or a depth of 16 inches (41 cm).

  2. Roof and Gutters. To prevent a future leak, inspect your roof for shingles that are warped, damaged, or missing. Use roofing cement and a caulking gun to seal joints where water could penetrate around the chimney, skylights, or vents. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and securely fastened. Downspouts should extend at least five feet away from the home to prevent flooding.

  3. Heating and ventilation. Examine your fireplace and chimney system to ensure that no soot or creosote has collected. Any cracks or voids present could potentially cause a fire. Before you turn the furnace on, replace the air filter and hire a professional to inspect the unit more thoroughly. These steps will improve the efficiency and life of your furnace and will ensure stable indoor air quality.

  4. Windows and doors. These can be a major culprit for heat loss, if not properly sealed. To keep the warm air inside, examine and replace worn weather-stripping. Inspect structural framing. Caulk inside and out, if necessary.

  5. Yard care. Trim overgrown trees and shrubs. Drain and shut off any exterior faucets and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing. Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems.

Oct 072016


(NC) As middle age approaches, many of us understand the challenges of fading vision, trying to stay active, and wanting to look and feel as amazing as we did in our twenties. Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep that youthful glow and energy. Try out these five tips and channel your forever young.inflammation

  1. Eat well: It’s important to make healthy choices and consume a well-balanced diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, milk and alternatives, protein, and healthy fats each day. These foods work to provide the body with the energy, vitamins, and minerals it needs to fuel an active lifestyle.

  2. Be active: Exercise promotes improved fitness, strength, and mental health, thereby delaying the signs of aging. According to the Canadian physical activity guidelines, being active for at least 150 minutes a week can help reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, premature death, and certain types of cancer.

  3. Laugh more: Research shows that laughter is excellent medicine. It reduces blood pressure, stimulates the immune system, and improves blood circulation and oxygen intake.4. Get more sleep: Having a good night’s rest not only feels great — it also lets the body produce more estrogen and progesterone, boosting the skin’s natural repair abilities and resulting in a refreshed look.

  4. Lose your readers: Struggling with bothersome glasses in order to read your smartphone, food labels, and restaurant menus? The need for clear vision in the gym, on the field or fairway and on-the-go is vital. But a recent survey shows that almost half of adults say reading glasses not only make someone look older, they also make them feel older.

New technology in eye care is correcting the vision of people with presbyopia, an eye condition that often occurs after age 40 and involves the gradual loss of the eye’s ability to actively focus on close objects. Multifocal contact lenses are an easy and comfortable way to finally ditch your glasses and shed ten years off your appearance. Talk to your doctor or visit

Oct 062016

(BPT) – If you’re like most people, there are a few times a year when you sit down to review your expenses – your cable bill, entertainment expenses and grocery receipts, for example – and try to figure out where you and your family can save money.29964670

One item you should consider is your healthcare costs in 2017. Since the fall season marks the beginning of the annual open enrollment period for employees, now is the perfect time to sign up for a new health benefit plan or make changes to your current plan.

Offered as part of those benefits, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are two simple ways for people to save money in the New Year. An FSA, which is provided by your employer, allows you to save funds for eligible healthcare expenses. An HSA – which you can obtain on your own or through your employer – is a tax-advantaged savings account that allows you to set aside money to cover medical expenses throughout your lifetime.

A major advantage of both accounts is that individuals may use the full amount of their pre-tax dollars toward the care you and your family may need; employees who enroll in an FSA can contribute a portion of their salary pre-tax to pay for qualified medical or dependent care expenses, while an HSA helps individuals with qualifying high-deductible health plans pay for current and future medical expenses.

The number of HSA accounts has risen to 18.2 million in 2016, a 25 percent increase since 2015, according to Devenir Research. In addition, according to the 2016 Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account Consumer Research study commissioned by Visa and conducted by C+R Research, 90 percent of FSA users agree that saving money, since contributions are pre-tax, tops their list of reasons for having an FSA. In fact, 40 percent of FSA users claim they would cut back on their medical expenses if they didn’t have an FSA.

The study also finds that an FSA with no carryover option represents an important barrier to adoption amongst employees, who fear losing their unused dollars at the end of the plan year. 60 percent of non-FSA users noted they would sign up for this benefit if their employer offered the option to carryover up to $500 of their unused health FSA balances remaining at the end of the plan year.

One of the most convenient ways to access funds in an HSA or FSA is with a Visa Healthcare Card, which allows employees to use funds in their HSA or FSA to pay for qualified medical expenses wherever Visa debit cards are accepted, making it easy to pay for expenses such as:

*Copays and deductibles


*Dentist visits: Cleanings, orthodontia, dentures

*Exams: Physicals, dermatologist

*Vision care, including exams, new glasses, LASIK

*Hearing exams and aids

*Medical equipment such as blood pressure monitors, thermometers

*Smoking cessation programs

For added convenience, most pharmacies, grocery stores and other retailers that sell healthcare products have the capability to distinguish between covered items and non-covered items when you pay for them, so you don’t have to wonder whether something is covered or not.

By using a Visa Healthcare Card at these locations, you no longer have to pay out-of-pocket and then submit receipts to be reimbursed for your medical expenses, saving you time and money!

There’s a reason why 78 percent of FSA users surveyed report having an FSA card and why 52 percent of HSA owners surveyed say they use a debit card linked to their HSA to pay for their medical expenses, as the 2016 Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account Consumer Research study commissioned by Visa and conducted by C+R Research found. As you review your options this open enrollment season, ask your employer if they offer an HSA or FSA with a Visa Healthcare Card to provide easy access to your funds. To learn more, visit