Bing Wants to Stop You From Buying Harmful Counterfeit Medication

If you’re in need of prescription medication these days, you no longer have to wait in line at your local pharmacy.

Rather, you can be like the millions across the globe flocking to the internet to find cheap generic brand prescription pharmaceuticals.

But due to the increased proliferation of dangerous counterfeit medications on the internet, it isn’t always the safest idea to do so.

That is, until Bing decided to make our lives easier. In early August, the search engine announced that it would be warning users when they come across unsafe online pharmacies via their search engine.

America’s healthcare system is in a strange state these days. While lifespan has increased significantly, more and more individuals are being diagnosed with chronic, life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Because of this, our country is heavily dependent on pharmaceuticals. In fact, almost 50% (48.5%) of Americans have used a minimum of one prescription medication in the past month.

Taking fake medication can be harmful to a person’s health in more ways than one. Not only could their condition could go untreated and get worse, but the fillers used in the counterfeit drugs could put users in serious harm.

It can often be difficult to tell whether drugs are counterfeit or not, particularly if they come in the form of a generic brand. This becomes doubly difficult when purchased on the internet.

But now, when users search for online pharmacies using Bing, the search engine will pre-emptively alert them that the website is illegitimate. According to Search Engine Journal, Bing makes its warnings based off of a list compiled by the FDA.

Search Engine Journal additionally reports that the warnings will function similarly to when a user visits a site containing malware.

While the warning will inevitably pop up, Bing will not definitively prevent the internet user from navigating the site. The choice is ultimately in their own hands.

Retirees Can Expect Big Healthcare Costs

Even with nearly 81% of retirees citing good health as the most important key to retirement, finding retirement health care is notoriously challenging. According to a recent report from TIME, certain states can promise lower costs than others, depending on circumstances like insurance. A recent analysis by HealthView Services details the differences in out-of-pocket health care costs after retirement from state to state.

The cheapest health care costs for retirees are in Hawaii, with the average patient expected to pay $2,818 after their first year of retirement, and a total of $112,528 over the following 20 years. That being said, Hawaii is also the most expensive state to live in. A close runner-up is Vermont, with first-year expenses totaling $3,074, for a 20-year total of $112,528.

In the most expensive retirement health care states, retirees can expect a different set of costs. In Michigan, first-year costs are around $3,707, with a total of $151,175 over the next 20 years. This creates a cost difference between Michigan and Vermont of around $28,000 in 20-year costs. The costs of retirement living in Michigan also exceeded the costs of more typical high-cost living states like New York and California.

According to a separate HealthView report, a healthy couple of 65 will have lifetime costs totaling $266,589 for Medicare parts B and D, along with supplemental coverage. Including other out-of-pocket costs typical to healthcare, the number grows to $394,954, which leaves three out of every four pre-retirees worried about their costs level. In order to cover 90% of costs, retirees will need at least $271,000 in savings.

Experts suggest the best thing you can do to prepare for retirement health care costs is monitor your health in the years before it. Make choices to keep your body and mind healthy, and you can reduce the inevitable healthcare bill that retirement brings with it.

Oil Prices At Record Low Due to New Oil Drilling

Oil prices in the U.S. have fallen to a new six-year low as of August 11th, reports the Wall Street Journal. This drop is likely due to a surge in gasoline stockpiling during the summer season. Over the past decade, global provided oil reserves have increased by 27%, or over 350 billion barrels. As summer is reaching an end, the demand for fuel starts to decrease, which is likely to result in a product surplus.

Crude oil fell 2.5%, or $1.07, below the low for this year’s average oil price. At $42.23 a barrel, oil prices dropped below the previous record set in March 3, 2009. Despite the falling prices, many U.S. oil companies refuse to cut back on their oil production.

Since early June, oil prices have fallen by more than 31%. Many analysts are speculating that the fall in prices is not going to end any time soon, and believe that the price could soon go below $40 a barrel.

“We are trading at levels not seen since the depths of the great recession,” says Stephen Schork, president of The Schork Group. “The overall trend in this market is very bearish.”

Other macroeconomic factors may have contributed to the recent drop of oil price. The strengthening of the U.S. dollar makes it more profitable for non-U.S. investors to sell crude oil. In addition, the demand for U.S. oil in China has been slowly decreasing, which has lead to an increase of local supply.

While many U.S. refineries have begun to slow production as the summer season draws to an end, other companies continue to add to stockpiles. Because of this, crude oil prices will continue to fall as demand goes down and supply goes up.

Better Business Bureau Issues Scam Warning

Although many companies use sweepstakes promotions as cost-effective advertising strategies, many out there are dubious of such contests, and for good reason, too. They’re pretty popular. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Report, there were over 100,000 complaints against lottery and sweepstakes scams in 2014. More recently, the Better Business Bureau has issued an alert warning of a Mega Millions scam that’s going around.

This latest con is a twist on a classic lottery scam. The premise is that a real life Mega Millions winner is just giving away some of his fortune, when in actually, it’s a scammer who’s going after victims’ hard earned money.

It works simply. The con artist sends out emails that look like they’ve come from Harold Diamond, a retired principal who this past winter won the largest Mega Millions jackpot in New York lottery history. According to the missive, “Diamond” is giving away some of his fortune to five randomly selected winners, and the victim is one of those lucky few who’ve been chosen to receive $1 million.

Here’s the catch. To collect the money, the victim emails the “lawyer” of “Diamond,” and mentions a verification code number, which is to prove that the victim is the official recipient. The lawyer will then ask that the recipient to pay taxes and/or other fees in order to receive the money, which will obviously never come.

The con is a classic scam that draws on current events. The fact that there’s a real live lottery winner named Harold Diamond adds credibility to the premise, making the scam more effective.

In order to avoid becoming a victim of such a ploy, the BBB advises that people look for certain clues. If it asks for money, it’s a scam. No one should ever have to pay to participate in a sweepstakes. If it’s a contest that wasn’t ever entered, it’s a scam. There’s no way to a sweepstakes without entering. If it’s a foreign lottery, it’s a scam. The only legal lotteries in the United States are the official state-run lotteries.

Girl Suffering From ‘Werewolf Syndrome’ Can’t Afford Treatment

Women care a lot about hair. One recent survey even that 44% of women find it troublesome when men’s eyebrows, nose hair, or ear hair is left untouched, 71% prefer men to trim their back hair, and 53% think that men should trim their chest.

Fortunately for them, women don’t have to worry about so much body hair removal, unless of course they suffer from a disease called Hypertrichosis, as eight-year-old Xiao Ling does.

Hypertrichosis, also known as Ambras syndrome or Werewolf syndrome, causes Xiao to grow an abnormal, excessive amount of hair all over her body, including her face. Because of the condition, from which she’s suffered since birth, Xiao is often teased. She doesn’t swim, or even wear shorts or dresses, for fear of the negative reactions she’ll get.

Now, she’s asking for help from charities so that she can pay for a laser treatment to cure her condition.

Hypertrichosis is so rare that there are only 34 recorded cases. It isn’t typically an illness in and of itself, but is rather a response to a more serious medical problem. The underlying cause is a genetic mutation in which cells that normally switch off hair growth in unusual areas — such as the forehead and eyelids — allow hair to grow.

However, doctors aren’t entirely sure what’s wrong in Xiao’s case.

Although there’s no actual cure for the condition, the abnormal hair caused by hypertrichosis can be removed through such treatments as bleaching, trimming, shaving, plucking, waxing, chemical treatments, or electrosurgical epilation.

Laser hair removal treatments are considered the most effective way to get rid of the abnormal hair. These treatments, however, are exorbitantly expensive — and Xiao’s family just doesn’t have the money.

The Internet is Making You Sad, Phone a Friend Instead

If you ask a member of generation Generation Z what it means to make a meaningful personal connection, many will tell you that these kinds of connections are made predominantly online. Over the past decade or so, our relationship with technology has changed drastically. With the advent of smartphones, users can simply log on and connect with other users from anywhere from down the street to across the globe. Using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, teens feel they are able to make meaningful connections with their peers, and form bonds through these digital avenues.

But are these connections truly “meaningful,” or are they doing more harm than good?

According to a recent study conducted by Ottawa Public Health, teenagers who spend more than two hours per day on the internet are more likely to experience psychological threats and suicidal thoughts, and more frequently struggle from mental health issues.

Within the United States alone, over $100 billion is spent annually on medical costs associated with mental health.

According to Huffington Post, Ottawa researchers feel that while the study necessarily doesn’t provide causation, it showed that the correlation ran both ways. Namely, teens who struggle with mental illness are more likely to spend more time online, and when individuals spend time online, their excessive use of social media leads them to feel alone, heightening feelings of poor mental health.

What many of these teens really need, researchers say, is face-to-face interactions and support from health care providers, family, and friends.

In fact, a recent study conducted at the University of Rochester suggests that people with a great deal of friendships and social activity at age 20 and 30 were more likely to have positive mental health in their 50s, as compared to individuals who didn’t cultivate friendships.

In the study, 100 University of Rochester students were tracked for over 30 years, during which the participants answered questions about social life, work life, relationships, and general interactions.

The study suggests that meaningful personal relationships and a healthy social life contributes to positive mental health.

While teens may use social media to connect with others, their search for companionship may lead to further feelings of isolation and sadness.

Perhaps it’s time to turn off the screens and look to our friends and family for emotional support.

Researchers at University of Georgia Find Link Between Opioid Misuse and Heroin Addiction

The pharmaceutical industry is booming in America. In 2011 alone, the U.S. saw pharmaceutical sales total a staggering $231.46 billion.

Unfortunately, many prescription drugs are misused, and may lead to deeper forms of addiction.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia reveals that individuals who misuse prescription drugs are more likely to have a history of abusing illicit drugs, regardless of age.

As reported by Psychiatry Advisor, the manner in which illicit drug abusers depends on the age of the individual. For those age 50 and above, addicts typically received the prescription opiates from a licensed physician. Younger addicts, on the other hand, typically procure prescription drugs from unauthorized sources such as drug dealers, family members, and friends.

To state the obvious, America is amidst a serious opioid crisis.

While heroin was once known as an urban drug, the abuse of illicit opiates has dramatically increased in suburban areas, such as Long Island and Westchester, two areas in downstate New York.

In 2013 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were more than 16,000 deaths involving prescription opioids, an increase of 1% from 2012.

The increase in incidence of opiate use and death can be attributed to the low cost and easy accessibility of the lethal and highly addictive substance; one bag of heroin can cost as little as $8.

To conduct the study, the researchers reviewed the survey responses of over 13,000 individuals aged 12 and up from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This survey collects self-reported data on a plethora of topics, such as prescription drugs, mental health, and illicit drugs.

Despite the study’s findings, researchers are still unsure what creates the correlation between misusing prescription opiates and using illicit drugs. They surmise that it might be because of chronic or unmanaged pain, or attributed to users’ inherently addictive personalities.

Researchers are also unsure of how these individuals become addicted to drugs in the first place, perhaps because the understanding of how and why someone becomes an addict is multidimensional and complicated.

Many researchers are now examining addiction from a biological point of view, focusing their attentions on individuals who have a predisposed predilection for substance abuse based on genetic or neurochemical attributes.

While there is far more research to be done on the subject of addiction, perhaps this study will allow the world of medicine to begin tailoring treatment and interventions by age.

Ranking the Nation’s Hottest Housing Markets in July 2015

It’s that time of year again. Across the country, real estate markets often see their busiest periods throughout July and August, making summer the hottest season for buying and selling homes.

So far, 2015 is shaping up to be another year of healthy summertime real estate growth, reported, with inventory and demand expected to reach peak levels this month.

Throughout July, the median list price for U.S. homes rose to $234,000, a 1% increase from June and a stunning 7% growth from the same time last year. Median days on market — the number of days it takes for a home to sell — reached 69 days in July as well, another 7% decrease from July 2014.

It’s just more evidence of the steadily growing U.S. housing market. This year’s upward trajectory of growth began in March, when builders broke ground on some 618,000 single-family housing starts.

“This year we’re seeing inventory continue to grow in July, albeit at a slower pace than this spring,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of “And while demand overall is strong, the trend in median days on market is suggesting that the market is finding more of a balance, which bodes well for more moderate price appreciation in the months ahead.”

So which housing markets are doing better than the rest?

San Francisco continues to be the No. 1 housing market in the nation, HousingWire reported. Homes in this market sell at a median price of $748,000, and stay on the market for an average of 30 days.

Close behind San Francisco are Denver, CO, Dallas, TX, Vallejo, CA and Santa Rosa, CA, which round out the top five respectively. Throughout these markets, demand remains high, allowing for the rapid buying and selling of homes that makes any market healthy. Additionally, these markets are seeing an influx of new home constructions to help meet demand.

“These hottest markets are the best in the country from both a supply and demand perspective,” Smoke said.

As more families rush to close on homes before the start of the school year, it’s safe to say that many of these markets haven’t even reached their peak levels yet this year.

Hundreds Gather Outside Lion Slayer’s Office

With almost 28 million U.S. small businesses to choose from, protesters made their voices heard outside a very specific one this week. According to a report from USA Today, hundreds of people gathered outside the office of Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer, who killed a protected lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe earlier this month. Toting signs that read “Killer” and “Justice for Cecil,” the protesters also taped messages on the door of the office, with various messages telling him to “rot in hell.”

Palmer reportedly claims that he didn’t know that the hunt was illegal, and had no prior knowledge about the lion’s protection status. He offered remorse in a letter sent to patients of his office, apologizing for the delay in appointments due to the protests:

“In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. That was never my intention.”

Police were stationed at the office during the protest, but did not intervene, maintaining that the protest was a peaceful one. There are no updates concerning Palmer’s legal status, or whether law enforcement has made any contact for reparations.

Fridley to Undergo Major Sewer Repair Work

The sewer system in Fridley, Minnesota is about to undergo a massive restoration project beginning next month.

Local newspaper the Sun Focus reports that the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) recently announced the project. The restoration work will begin next month and is expected to wrap up by September 2016.

The sewer repair work will affect Fridley Community Park and Plaza Park, among other areas.

The project’s citizen liaison, Tim O’Donnell, says the repair work is way overdue.

“Many of them are in the 50, 60, and 70-year-old range and were made of reinforced concrete and pipe back in that time frame,” O’Donnell said. “We are finding now that they are just falling apart. They are suffering high levels of corrosion on the inside of the pipe. We are really trying to target these areas in critical condition and restore them to a condition that will help them last for another 50 years.”

In addition to improving the sewer’s sanitation capabilities, the project will also help prevent groundwater and stormwater from entering the sewer.

MCES is hiring sewer repair contractor Lametti and Sons, Inc. for the job. Lametti and Sons will first install above ground waste water pumps in order to maintain sewer service during the repair work. The bulk of the repair work will involve a process known as cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining, which involves inserting flexible, seamless new pipes into the existing pipes via manholes and sewers.

“We are using the existing sewer, even though it is damaged, as a mold to create a new pipe,” O’Donnell explained. Because the existing pipe will not be physically removed, the majority of the repair work will be contained in the local manhole sites.

“Once we have that set up, there is no flow going through the pipe and we can clean it, inspect it again, put the liner in and make sure the liner is working well,” he said. “Once the actual sewer repair is done then we can come back and do any restoration work that we need to do if we have to dig across streets or driveways or if we do any minor excavation in the park areas or any other landscape area. We will restore those back to the existing condition or better.”

The “trenchless” method as CIPP lining is sometimes referred to as is a cost effective and relatively quick way of repairing sewer pipes. It has been available for residential use since around 2000.