The One Test That Can Improve Your Health Today

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-08

(BPT) - When you provide just one sample of your DNA, researchers are able to use it to learn more about your health history, assess your chances of contracting certain diseases and even gain a better understanding of the importance family history can play in your health outlook. It sounds futuristic, but it is all very real. It’s modern genetic testing, otherwise known as genomic sequencing, and it represents one of the most important tests being used today to improve health outcomes.

To better understand genomic sequencing and how it can help you lead a happier, healthier life, Dr. Richard Sharp, director of the Biomedical Ethics program at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine, offers these five things you need to know about this groundbreaking preventive treatment.

  1. Genomic sequencing can be tailored to your specific concern. If you’re interested in pursuing genomic sequencing, you have more testing options today than ever before. Researchers can use your sample to analyze a large number of different genes and assess your lifetime risks of developing a whole range of different diseases. They can also narrow the set to specifically measure your risk of developing certain cancers. Finally, they can even look at individual genes to determine your risk of developing traditional genetic diseases.

  2. Common fears about genetic testing may be misplaced. “Many patients wonder, ‘If I undergo genetic testing and it reveals that I have this risk of developing disease, is it possible that I might lose my job, that I won’t find a new job, or I won’t be able to get health insurance?’”   says Dr. Sharp. Fortunately, laws are in place to alleviate those concerns. In the United States, current legislation protects people from allowing their genetic information to be used against them by employers or insurers.

  3. Genetic testing may uncover unexpected information as well. Your test to determine your risk of developing breast cancer may also shed light on your risks for other diseases such as Alzheimer’s. These so-called secondary findings may or may not be reported to you based on the lab and clinician you work with, so it’s important to discuss how secondary findings will be handled before having your genetic test done.

  4. The benefits of genetic testing extend beyond merely analyzing your disease risks. As the science of genetic testing continues to improve, its uses do as well. Today, genetic testing is being used not only to identify a patient’s risk of contracting a certain disease but also to understand how the person’s body metabolizes drugs, and even to avoid the potential for future negative reactions to certain drugs.

  5. Your genetic testing may be covered by your insurance. “Many forms of genetic testing are covered by insurers, although like with any new technology or diagnostic test, there can be gaps in coverage,” says Dr. Sharp. “The Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic has been very interested in trying to find ways to demonstrate the value of genetic testing so that a large number of payers will feel comfortable covering that kind of test.”

To find out more about genomic sequencing and other research initiatives, please visit the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic. For journalists interested in speaking with Dr. Richard Sharp, please email your request to

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New Television Series Pays Homage to America's Artisans

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-01

Photo courtesy of INSP.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - In the ‘50s and ‘60s, certain classes, such as home economics and woodshop, were required in most high schools. Maybe that’s why Americans are so fascinated with handcrafted projects.

This new revolution, called the maker movement, is where people create and market products from raw materials, and the movement has given rise to websites such as Kickstarter, Etsy, Pinterest and Maker Faire, which boast millions of followers and billions of dollars.

Now a new series on family entertainment television network, INSP, is celebrating artisans and their work. In Handcrafted America, viewers will meet fascinating people from all across America who are dedicated to their crafts. In every half-hour episode, host Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf, Wipeout, Christmas in the Smokies) meets three gifted artisans (some more than five generations in their field), and takes you on a behind-the-scenes look at how they create their products, from start to finish. Along the way, Wagner will delve into the history and cultural heritage that inspire and influence the design of their handcrafted products. Viewers will become part of these artisans’ lives as they tell the stories of their families, their journeys and their dreams.

“From glass blowing to ornate clock making to blacksmithing, Handcrafted America entertains and informs - not in a dry, academic way, but with adventure, spirited discovery, fun and authenticity. America’s passion for making things continues to be strong, and Artisans from coast to coast still create handcrafted treasures. This is the focal point of the series,” says Craig Miller, VP of original programming at INSP.

Handcrafted America can be seen on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on INSP. For additional information, including information on where to watch in your area, please visit

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Life Hacks for Better Living: 5 Easy Steps to Help You Address Hearing Loss

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-01

(BPT) - Life’s “To Do” list can be pretty daunting. And often, getting started on something is the hardest part. This can be especially true for addressing hearing loss.

In fact, most people wait roughly seven years to do anything about it once they realize they have hearing loss. And that’s too bad - research shows that when people treat even just mild hearing loss, their quality of life goes up. Plus, when people with hearing loss use hearing aids, they get more pleasure from doing things and feel more engaged in life.

Conversely, non-hearing aid users are more prone to feel down, depressed or hopeless, a Better Hearing Institute (BHI) survey found. They’re also more likely than hearing aid users to say they find themselves getting more forgetful. Groundbreaking studies, in fact, discovered that hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Add to that, BHI research showing that untreated hearing loss can take a significant toll on earnings - up to $30,000 annually.

The tricky thing is, we live in a noisy world. It’s hard not to be affected. Many of us undoubtedly feel the impact of blaring music, earbuds, noisy restaurants, clubs and coffee shops, high-decibel ball games and motor sports, ear-piercingly shrill power tools, loud workplaces, and more.

It all boils down to this: You’re not alone in the changes and struggles you’re experiencing with your hearing. You have lots of company. Almost 40 million others in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. Research even suggests that hearing loss is now common among people in their 40’s, and is increasing among 20-to-39-year-olds.

Luckily, the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids - which are now cooler, sleeker, smaller, more powerful, and work better than ever before. They’ve transformed dramatically, even in just the last couple of years.

So if you’re tired of turning up the TV volume, missing what people are saying at work, asking family and friends to repeat things, can barely remember the sound of morning birds, or are simply worn out from coping with a neglected hearing loss, do something about it. This may be your monumental moment. You can make the most of it.

To help, we’ve put together five easy, achievable steps to get you started. The road to better hearing - and a better quality of life - is a single step away.

1. Take a convenient online hearing check at
BHI offers a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check you can take in the privacy and comfort of your home. A series of questions helps you determine if you need a more comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care professional. It’s a great way to get started - because you can ease into the possibility that it’s time to do something about your hearing difficulty. Useful information on hearing loss and hearing aid technologies awaits you on the site as well.

2. Visit a local hearing care professional.
Hearing care professionals - audiologists, hearing aid specialists, and ENTs (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors or doctors of otology and otolaryngology) - are best-suited to help you. Audiologists and hearing aid specialists are expressly trained in all aspects of hearing aids and amplification, and are licensed by your state. Many work in practices with ENT doctors. They have the most appropriate and accurate equipment to give you a precise read on your current hearing level. And they can reliably counsel you on treatment options. Most important, going to a hearing care professional helps ensure that any underlying medical issue behind your hearing loss is identified and addressed. Simply, seeing a hearing care professional is your best safety net for proper diagnosis and treatment. The smartest thing you can do is to get it right the first time. And be assured, research shows that the great majority of people who visit hearing care professionals say they’re happy with the quality of service and counseling they receive. Most hearing care professionals even provide free trials so you can see what using hearing aids is like, with a minimal service fee if you decide not to keep them.

3. Gather Information.
Educating yourself helps you reach acceptance and peace of mind. Go to and learn what you need to know. Among other things, you’ll find:

  • You can do this.

  • You’re not alone.

  • New, sleek and stylish, state-of-the-art hearing aids make it much easier to manage hearing difficulty without a lot of fuss.

  • Many new hearing aids are virtually invisible; they sit inside the ear canal, out of sight.

  • Treating hearing loss means better quality of life and more effortless living for you.

4. Window Shop.
It’s OK to “just look.” You set the pace. Visit the “Hearing Aids Can Help” tab at Opportunities to online window shop for hearing aids are right there for you. But most important, be up-front with your hearing care professional. Tell them you’re not ready to buy. But do let them know you’re ready to learn about the best hearing aid technologies for you if hearing aids are what they recommend, to get demonstrations on how they work, and to try them out at no cost or obligation. And remember, hearing aids are only sold by licensed hearing care professionals. True hearing aids that are designed to treat hearing loss and are cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) need to be fitted, adjusted, and tuned to your ears and specific needs, with appropriate follow-up. This is what makes leading-edge hearing aids so beneficial. So when you do seek out information, make sure you go to a hearing care professional.

5. Let it all sink in and make a plan.
Consider everything you’ve learned and take time to think about it. But do give yourself a timeline for making a decision. If - after you’ve educated yourself about hearing loss and hearing aids - you decide to wait, set a hard date for re-evaluating your decision. Research shows that the sooner you treat hearing loss, the better it is for you and your quality of life.

For more information on hearing loss and to take a free, quick, confidential, online hearing check to determine if you need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care professional, visit Follow BHI on Twitter @better_hearing. Like BHI on Facebook at

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5 Ways to Tackle Tech Trouble Today

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-17

(BPT) - Your next tech-tastrophy could take many forms. Maybe it's the quick flash out of your monitor screen, the smoke coming from your printer or that mysterious clunking sound your favorite device keeps making - just because you accidently dropped it one or five times.

If you're a small business professional trying to manage the budget, the last thing you have lying around is extra money to replace what you already have. But breathe easily, because these terrible tech tragedies can be prevented. To help you keep your tech safe, Staples Tech Services has teamed up with tech and small business expert Ramon Ray for five tips you'll want to upload into your daily lifestyle immediately.

Keep software updated

Software problems can render your devices unusable more quickly than hardware damage. To protect against malware and security breaches, your software should be updated regularly. This includes the definition updates for your antivirus software as well as your operating system, which has built-in protections against malware. Businesses with multiple pieces of equipment should make sure they update automatically rather than requiring administrators to manually update each device.

Line up emergency tech support

You rely on your equipment to be functional. So when it's not, you need an affordable tech support service. For small businesses in particular, tech issues can impact productivity and the bottom line. Staples' new Next Day Guarantee means that PCs brought in before noon are serviced by 5 p.m. the next day. Staples' tech team will also handle problems like malware removal and PC tune-ups and select Staples stores will handle mobile repairs, including broken screens, poor batteries, and home buttons.

Educate your staff

Some of the biggest dangers faced by your organization relate to the behaviors of your employees. Poor password-management policies can lead to outsiders guessing your system passwords and finding a way into your databases. Employees can also let in malicious traffic by clicking on links in emails or on social media sites. Hire a technology expert to train your staff on responsible technology use and make sure you sit in on the class as well.

Keep it clean

Don't discount the importance of keeping your PCs and servers clean. Over the course of multiple months, dust can build up inside desktop units and servers, and over time, that dust can cause components to work inefficiently. With a can of compressed air, cotton swabs and a cleaning cloth, you can keep the internal workings of your computer clean for as long as it's in use.

Pay extra for quality

If you're operating on a budget, as every business is, it can be tempting to opt for less expensive equipment, especially if you're buying multiple items at once. However, less expensive devices can fail more quickly than some of the more expensive options. You'll be better off for the long-term when you invest in high-quality equipment that will remain reliable for many years.

Your business depends on its technology every single day, so support your bottom line by employing the tips above to keep your tech running as long as possible. Because once you see the smoke, it's already too late. For more technology help, see the experts at Staples Tech Services today.

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5 Easy Ways for Modern Couples to Take Date Night to the Next Level

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-10

(BPT) - Romance is much more than a simple card on Valentine's Day. Amid the hectic schedules and chaos of everyday life, romantics across the country are looking for ways to spice up that intimate evening with someone special. Since crowded restaurants and cold temperatures are a sure-fire way to kill the mood, a celebration at home can be much more appealing. Incorporate these modern twists on a romantic night in to take your next date night to the next level.

Uncork the night

Set the mood for a romantic evening at home with a bottle of decadent red wine. Apothic Crush is a red blend that combines red fruit flavors with notes of caramel. Its velvety smooth mouthfeel is sure to please every palate.

Modern day gourmet

Meal subscription services make it easy for even novice cooks to create culinary masterpieces. Tantalize your taste buds with exciting seasonal recipes using exotic ingredients delivered right to your door. The joint activity adds an element of adventure, livening up a night at home.

Travel down memory lane

Memories of relationship milestones and special moments generate warm feelings of nostalgia. Create a digital scrapbook of images from your most memorable experiences together and spend some time reminiscing about the magic that started it all.

Personalize your playlist

Surprise your significant other with a throwback radio dedication via Spotify. Your personalized message shared with a special song is sure to impress while evoking the carefree days of mixtapes and long conversations over landlines. To make your dedication, visit

A gift that keeps on giving

It's important to take time out of our busy lives for date night. Keep the magic of the night alive with a "2016 Save the Date Night" booklet where you can schedule future date night outings or activities all year long. Remember, everyone loves a little mystery and subtle creativity trumps extravagance every time.

For more great date night ideas, visit

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How Healthy Is Your Smile? You'd Be Surprised

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-09

(BPT) - That healthy smile may not be so healthy. Twenty-one percent of children and 91 percent of adults have caries (commonly referred to as tooth decay) in their permanent adult teeth, according to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES).

But a recent breakthrough is available to help support oral health--in a sugar free chocolate flavored soft chew.

An article published in February's RDH Magazine discusses the discovery and importance of beneficial bacteria that live in the mouth. It's been known for over a century that certain bad bacteria in dental plaque are able to convert sugars from the diet to acid, which is bad for teeth. After decades of researching the microorganisms in the mouth, Dr. Israel Kleinberg, DDS and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Oral Biology at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, discovered beneficial bacteria that also live in dental plaque. Dr. Kleinberg isolated a nutrient in saliva called arginine, which these "good" bacteria use to naturally produce tooth-protecting buffers. This process can help neutralize the acids from the harmful bacteria and help keep the teeth in a normal pH (acid/base) balance.

Healthy saliva also contains calcium and bicarbonate that help preserve healthy tooth enamel and provide additional buffering. Stony Brook researchers combined arginine, calcium and bicarbonate and patented this vital blend of nutrients that fuels the mouth's natural defensives. These key tooth-supporting ingredients have been added to BasicBites, a sugar free chocolate flavored chew that is now being recommended by leading dental professionals.

Here are six ways to help children and even adults maintain their oral health.

  1. Two BasicBites a day can help preserve healthy teeth. Recommended for adults and children over the age of six, these candy-like chews nourish beneficial oral bacteria, while supporting enamel health. They are also an excellent source of calcium.

  2. Minimize sugary foods and drinks and if you do eat them, avoid sticky foods that can get stuck on teeth. This even includes dried fruit, bread and crackers. Children should choose water and low-fat milk as health beverage alternatives.

  3. Limit between-meal snacks. If children crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods.

  4. If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and helps wash out foods that produce acids.

  5. Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.

  6. Schedule regular dental visits.

BasicBites are also recommended for people with dry mouth, a condition that affects approximately 30 percent of all adults in the United States. Chronic dry mouth can cause significant oral health issues and damage teeth.

BasicBites are 20 calories each and available exclusively online at where you can also find more information.

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Protect Your Family's Valuables Like the Rich and Famous

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-04

(BPT) - Where can you find more Olympic gold medals and Oscar awards than anywhere else? Here’s a hint: It’s the same place where more precious jewelry, gold, moon rocks, Super Bowl rings, lottery tickets and priceless art are located than any other place in the world.

The answer is less surprising than you might think: A safe deposit box.

All of us would be smart to take a cue from movie stars and athletes. We all have items in our lives worth protecting: valuable jewelry and heirlooms, collectible coins or baseball cards, deeds, titles, wills, digital backups and even precious photos.

Federal, state and local law enforcement, FEMA, The American Red Cross, AARP and many professional advisors recommend a safe deposit box as the smartest, safest storage solution. With annual rental costs generally starting at $30 to $45 a year, they are one of the best values offered by financial institutions today - and also one of the most underutilized.

Three tips for protecting your valuables

1. Your bank is safer than your home.

Your home is far more likely to be broken into than a bank. In 2013 the FBI reported that a home burglary occurred approximately every 16 seconds.

And using a safe at home does not change that equation. “In fact, it makes you more vulnerable,” says Dave McGuinn, president of Safe Deposit Box Specialist. “People underestimate the number of service repairmen and overall traffic in and out of a home. Logically once the presence of a safe becomes known, the house becomes a more attractive target.”

Natural disasters also pose a greater risk than ever before. Homes are more vulnerable and lack the structural integrity and security offered by a bank. It’s one of the biggest reasons people use safe deposit boxes according to the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).

2. Take advantage of low cost insurance.

“It is important to understand that boxes are loss-resistant, not loss-proof,” says Gerald Pluard, president of Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage, LLC (SDBIC).

In the past three years, more than 50,000 boxes have been impacted by flooding, fires and other natural disasters, affecting more than $1 billion in property. Surprisingly, a recent national survey conducted by SurveyUSA revealed that half of the 25 million people renting safe deposit boxes today incorrectly assume the contents stored inside their box are insured by the bank or a federal agency.

They are not.

But that is changing. SDBIC recently introduced a simple, affordable insurance coverage specifically designed to protect the contents of a safe deposit box - and at a fraction of the cost of traditional insurance.

“Despite common misperceptions, items kept in safe deposit boxes are not insured by the bank or FDIC,” said Deanne Marino, executive director of American Banking Insurance Association (ABIA). “We are encouraged that many banks across the country have begun offering this kind of insurance as an enhancement to their current safe deposit box services.”

What is so unique about this insurance, which is underwritten by AXA ART, is that you do not need to identify what is stored inside the box to obtain coverage. “No disclosures, appraisals or deductibles; if it’s legal and fits in the box, we will insure it,” noted Pluard.

Even important papers such as wills, titles, deeds, photos and digital backups are covered - an industry first. 

For those who already insure items at home but do not use them regularly, placing them in a box and insuring them with SDBIC could save 50 percent or more in annual costs compared to homeowner’s rates, added Pluard.

3. Use that smart phone.

Consumers should frequently take an inventory of their valuables and important documents. Whether financial or emotional, if it’s hard to replicate or replace, it should go in a box and be insured.

Even with these precautions, there are certain items that no amount of money can replace. Take photos when you place them in the box. If ever stolen or lost your photos can help law enforcement recover those items - including distributing the images across national database to pawnshops and other places where the items could be offloaded.

We all can’t be a famous athlete or actor, but we can certainly store our valuables like one. Millions of people trust safe deposit boxes. Millions more should; they work, are inexpensive, and now, even insurable.

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