Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Anxious Traveler provides expert guidance for seeing the world

Rita Anya Nara
Review by Angelene Heileson

Are you afraid to travel?

Rita Anya Nara struggled with anxiety and chronic stress for most of her life.  Then with the help of her doctor she decided to confront her fears one at a time by touring the world.  The results were amazing and life changing.

In her book The Anxious Traveler, Nara describes the strategies that made her traveling possible.

For example, she describes the problem of eye contact,

"One of the most unnerving things for a traveler with an anxiety disorder is to pass, see, or be passed by hundreds or even thousanss of strangers every day - many of whom, for whatever reason, want you to look back at them."

Nara indicates that it is all right to not make eye contact.  "Save the emotional eneregy it takes to make eye contact for the people who matter more - hotel staff, store clerks, and others who are helping you have a pleasant journey" (pp. 140-141).

Not only does she provide coping means for anxious travelers, but she also gives practical suggestions for getting help while traveling. For example, she describes how modern technology enables the anxious traveler.  She tells how the Internet and email can be used for booking, canceling, and complaining.  "Even cultures that highly value face to face ocmmunications ... find it hard to deny a reservation or an arrangement (such as a room on the quieter side of the hotel, or early check-out) that has a trail of email attached to it" (pp. 220-221).

Bargaining can also be done on the Internet. Some travel retailers allow you to "name your own price" for a plane ticket or hotel room. "If the website doesn't like your offer, 'it' rejects or raises it, so any awkwardness is really between you and your computer, and you simply try again for a bargain," writes Nara.

This book is full of such gems. Even if you are an experienced traveler, you will find it enlightening and worthwhile - particularly if your travel companion is the kind of person who would just as soon stay at home.

About the author
Rita Anya Nara suffered from panic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and social anxiety disorder when she started traveling and wrote her book, The Anxious Traveler, from her own experiences. She hopes to inspire those too afraid to travel to manage their fear while having an incredible life experience. Nara is an avid photographer, loves to hike, and is studying to be a professional travel companion. She resides in northern California when she’s not traveling.

For further information on the book and the author, please visit

The Anxious Traveler is available for purchase on and

Walking Canes - ideal gift for grandma or grandpa

 Buy canes online from


Tutem Masks launches line of chic personal masks

Designer masks
(MINNEAPOLIS) - Tutem Masks brings a novel but needed concept to America: design-savvy, individually wrapped single-use masks that help prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Smart and chic, the patented comfort mask comes in 10 stylish prints to keep travelers, commuters, co-workers, families and the rest of us from getting sick this cold & flu season. There are an estimated 1 billion cases of the common cold in the US per year.

Struck by the need—and a fellow passenger's sneeze—on a crowded flight, founder Jody Vitelli saw an opportunity. Tutem aligns perfectly with increasing trends in wellness, public germ prevention, and the elevation of daily essentials via good design.  

"I was determined to develop a fun, tasteful mask that people would feel good about wearing," says Ms. Vitelli. "These masks are conversational, thoughtful and a very necessary accessory that will help keep us all a bithealthier."

Created to be cool and comfortable in every way possible, Tutem custom prints are fun and its patented breathing chamber makes long wear easier. It won't ruin lipstick or gloss, or muss hair. The latex-free masks are sold two per pack, each individually wrapped with an all-natural CleanWell sanitizing wipe.

Tutem 2-Packs are $8 (10-Packs are $30) and can be purchased online at

Inspired by the Latin word Tutis, meaning "for our safety,"Tutem has arrived to help Americans spread love, not germs.
About Tutem Masks
Tutem Masks is a collection of smart and chic single-use personal masks designed to help prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Made in the USA, Tutemempowers the socially responsible individual with a convenient, highly wearable mask. Wear while traveling, at work or anywhere germs can be spread. For more information visit, log on to the Tutem Masks Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter@TutemMasks.

Fairhaven Health Teams Up with the American Pregnancy Association to Promote Reproductive Wellness

Fairhaven Health and the American Pregnancy Association have teamed up to promote reproductive and pregnancy wellness. Through this partnership, Fairhaven Health will provide and manage an online storefront on the American Pregnancy website featuring products to help couples conceive naturally.

"We're thrilled to be working with the American Pregnancy Association in this capacity," said Ethan Lynette, senior partner at Fairhaven Health. "American Pregnancy is a leader in providing information and support to pregnant and aspiring pregnant women. Fairhaven Health is a leading provider of products for that same population. This partnership leverages the strengths of both organizations for the benefit of couples and babies throughout the U.S. and Canada."

The American Pregnancy Association started in 1995 as a national helpline to support women. The nonprofit's mission has always been to help connect women and families to local resources in their geographic area to enrich their pregnancy, birth and parenting experiences.

"Collaborating with Fairhaven Health only made sense, when our mission is to connect women to resources to help resolve their challenges," said Dr. Brad Imler, President of the American Pregnancy Association. "It was obvious that Fairhaven could provide a variety of resources with one simple call."

Couples can access the American Pregnancy Association's educational articles, discussion forums, and toll-free helpline from the comfort of their home. Educational topics range from getting pregnant to birth and beyond, and all things in between. Whether couples are trying to get pregnant or discovering those first signs of pregnancy, they can participate in the online discussion forums or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-672-2296 for information, support and access to care.

The American Pregnancy Association also provides an online resource store featuring Fairhaven Health's breadth of products to help couples conceive. Visitors to the American Pregnancy Association website can now learn about and purchase ovulation prediction tools, fertility supplements, and much more.

About Fairhaven Health
Fairhaven Health manufactures a line of natural, doctor-designed products to promote fertility, pregnancy, and nursing health. They provide ovulation prediction tools, natural fertility supplements, prenatal vitamins, and breastfeeding support products, all of which are manufactured in U.S. GMP-certified and FDA regulated facilities.

Fruit flies with better sex lives live longer

Can sexual frustration be bad for your health? Male fruit flies that expected sex – and didn't get it – experienced serious health consequences and aged faster

ANN ARBOR, Mich. —   Sex may in fact be one of the secrets to good health, youth and a longer life – at 
least for fruit flies – suggests a new University of Michigan study that appears in the journal Science.

Sex may result in good health in fruit flies
Male fruit flies that perceived sexual pheromones of their female counterparts – without the opportunity to mate – experienced rapid decreases in fat stores, resistance to starvation and more stress. The sexually frustrated flies lived shorter lives.

Mating, on the other hand, partially reversed the negative effects on health and aging.

"Fruit flies are model organisms for understanding molecular mechanisms of aging. These findings give us a better understanding about how sensory perception and physiological state may be integrated in the brain to affect long-term health and lifespan," says senior author Scott D. Pletcher, Ph.D, professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School and research professor at the U-M Geriatrics Center.

"The cutting-edge genetics and neurobiology used in this research suggests to us that for fruit flies at least, it may not be a myth that sexual frustration is a health issue. Expecting sex without any sexual reward was detrimental to their health and cut their lives short."

U-M scientists used sensory manipulations to give the common male fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, the perception that they were in a sexually rich environment by exposing them to genetically engineered males that produced female pheromones. They were also able to manipulate the specific neurons responsible for pheromone perception as well as parts of the brain linked to sexual reward (secreting a group of compounds associated with anxiety and sex drive).

"These data may provide the first direct evidence that aging and physiology are influenced by how the brain processes expectations and rewards," Pletcher says. "In this case, sexual rewards specifically promoted healthy aging."

Fruit flies have been a powerful tool for studying aging because they live on average 60 days yet many of the discoveries in flies have proven effective in longer-lived animals, such as mice.

For decades, one of the most powerful ways to slow aging in different species was by limiting their food intake. In a previous study, Pletcher and his colleagues found that the smell of food alone was enough to speed up aging, offering new context for how dietary restriction works.

Additional Authors:  Christi M. Gendron, of U-M.; Tsung‐Han Kuo, of Baylor College of Medicine; Zachary M. Harvanek, of U-M; Brian Y. Chung, of U-M; Joanne Y. Yew, of the National University of Singapore; and Herman A. Dierick, of Baylor College of Medicine.

Disclosures:  None

Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging (Grants (R01AG030593, TR01AG043972, and R01AG023166) and a Senior Scholar in Aging Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation.

Reference: "Drosophila lifespan and physiology are modulated by sexual perception and reward," Science, November, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Families fighting rare disease ask for help on #GivingTuesday

Holiday spending: How to make it count
How to help families battling a rare disease affecting 15,000 people + many more

Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season, and this year charities are joining in on the holiday action. After the chaos of Black Friday, followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, holiday shoppers can seize the opportunity to give back for a new holiday trend called, Giving Tuesday.
For two years now, Giving Tuesday has taken place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to create a national day focused on giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping.

Interested in seeing how Giving Tuesday should measure up?
  • Last year, research indicated that 37% of American adults brave the crowds for Black Friday shopping.
  • Forbes reported that $5.5 billion was spent last year during Small Business Saturday.
  • Analysts reported total sales of $1.98 billion for Cyber Monday 2012.
  • The first annual Giving Tuesday resulted Paypal mobile donations increasing 487 percent higher than the previous year's total number. The total value of those donations increased 228 percent.
There are almost 6,500 organizations partnered with Giving Tuesday. For most organizations, this last push for 2013 donations is vital to the success of the mission they carry out.

Now one organization organized by patients, families and their doctors are urging people to get involved with Giving Tuesday as a way to help give momentum for a cure.

"We all want to give a gift that is meaningful and demonstrates the love we have for our family and friends," says Jennifer Farmer, Executive Director of the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). "Giving Tuesday reminds us that a gift can come in the unique form of a contribution to a charity that is making a difference for a loved one or your community. For individuals and families battling a rare disease called Friedreich's Ataxia (FA), you can give the gift of research."

"We are a small organization, but despite this, we have big goals to find a cure. Our research could provide insights into many more diseases related to the neuromuscular system, cardiac system and genetic diseases as a whole. Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity to get us closer to the finish line." continues Farmer.

Friedreich's Ataxia is a genetic, progressive and life-shortening neuromuscular condition for which there is currently no cure. Since the disease affects the neuromuscular system, patients have trouble with coordination, walking and are often bound to a wheel chair. The disease affects 6,000 people in North America and 15,000 people worldwide and every 1 in 100 people are carriers of the compromised  Friedreich's (FA) ataxia gene – yet not many are aware of this.

Through funds already raised, FARA has clinical trials in progress that are showing real promise.

How can you help with Giving Tuesday? 

"With FARA your donation makes a huge impact," says Kyle Bryant, who has Friedreich's Ataxia. "This is an incredible way to be a part of the 'Giving Season' and give something truly meaningful."

Also, when you do support Giving Tuesday, you can go social with #GivingTuesday to share your efforts with the world.

This year, Giving Tuesday will take place on December 3, 2013. For more information about Giving Tuesday, its mission and partners, visit

To donate directly to FARA through Giving Tuesday, please visit:


About FARA and how to help support their cause: The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to accelerating research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich's ataxia. According to Charity Navigator, FARA currently has the highest rating of four stars.
For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Rare" Gene Is Common In African Descendants And May Contribute To Risk Of Heart Disease

"Rare" ApoE Gene Variant Now Believed to be Common in Africans and African Descendants Worldwide. The Gene Can Increase Levels of Triglyceride Fats in Blood, Which May Contribute to Risk of Heart Disease and Other Disorders.

NEW YORK (November 25, 2013) -- Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that a genetic variation that is linked to increased levels of triglycerides -- fats in the blood associated with disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke -- is far more common than previously believed and disproportionally affects people of African ancestry. Investigators say their discovery, reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, reinforces the need to screen this population for high levels of triglycerides to stave off disease.

The finding offers a clue as to why Africans and people of African descent have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes compared to many other populations, says the study's senior author, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell. African Americans with the variant had, on average, 52 percent higher triglyceride levels compared with blacks in the study who did not have the variant.

"The prevalence of the ApoE mutation may put large numbers of Africans and African descendants worldwide at risk for a triglyceride--linked disorder," Dr. Crystal says. "But we don't yet know the extent of that risk or its health consequences.

"Inheriting this genetic variant does not mean a person is going to get heart disease and other diseases. It increases their risk, and screening for fats in the blood -- both cholesterol and triglycerides -- as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important," Dr. Crystal says. "There are many factors at work in these diseases. This may be one player."

The number of Africans and African descendants who may have this gene variant is significant, Dr. Crystal says. "Based on our findings, we estimate that there could be 1.7 million African Americans in the United States and 36 million sub-Saharan Africans worldwide with the variant, which increases risk of the lipid disorder and, to some unknown extent, the diseases associated with it," he says.

So Rare No One Paid Attention

The study began in Qatar, at Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha. 
The gene variant the scientists studied is a single point mutation -- a replacement of one of DNA amino acid with another -- in the ApoE gene, which carries fats and other molecules through the blood. 

Scientists have believed that more than 95 percent of the world's population has one of three common ApoE variants -- 2, 3, or 4. The rest have one of 38 rare ApoE mutations, among them the R145C variant studied in this research. In the three decades since the variant's discovery, only 32 instances of it have been reported in the scientific literature, Dr. Crystal says. 
"This ApoE variant was believed to be so extremely rare that no one paid much attention to it," he says. 

Weill Cornell researchers in Qatar decided to investigate the mutation in their work evaluating the genetics of Qatari natives -- people who have lived in the country for three generations or more. That population is made up of three genetic subpopulations: Arab, Persian, and sub-Saharan African. The researchers were able to look at the genomes of 228 Qatari participants.
To their surprise, investigators found that 17 percent of the African-derived genetic subgroup had the rare ApoE variant. None of the Arab or Persian participants had the mutation.

The team then expanded their study. They looked at participants in the worldwide 1000 Genomes Project (1000G), and found that while the R145C variant is rare to non-existent in populations that are not African or of African descent, it is common (occurring 5 to 12 percent of the time) among African-derived populations, especially those from sub-Sahara.
Weill Cornell Medical College researchers then looked for the variant in New York--area participants taking part in a study on smoking--related lung health. They found that R145C was rare (occurring 0.1 percent of the time) in the 1,012 Caucasians they studied, but common in the 1,266 African-American participants, 4 percent of whom carried the variant.
"This research is a good example of how studying a small population can give you insights that are very relevant to the rest of the world," Dr. Cyrstal says.
The study was supported, in part, by Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar and the Qatar Foundation, Doha, Qatar; and the National Institutes of Health (UL1-RR024996). 
Co-authors include Maen D. Abou Ziki, Yael Strulovici-Bare, Dr. Neil R. Hackett, Dr. Juan L. Rodriguez-Flores, Dr. Jason G. Mezey, Jacqueline Salit, Sharon Radisch, Dr.  Charleen Hollmann, Dr. Lotfi Chouchane, Dr. Joel Malek, and Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, from Weill Cornell Medical College; and Dr. Mahmoud A. Zirie and Amin Jayyuosi from Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar.

Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances -- including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit

Take a page from the celebrity mom handbook and fall in love with Smart Mom Jewelry's chic-ly unique Teething Bling

Smart Mom Tori Spelling
Teething Bling is a mommy must when it's time to hit the town with those tots in tow, and a favorite accessory for star moms like Tori Spelling, Holly Robinson Peete, Melissa Joan Hart, and more! Regular jewelry just won't do when there are tiny hands and eager mouths questing for something fun to chew on and play with. Instead of risking a regular necklace or simply going without, the geniuses behind Smart Mom Jewelry created Teething Bling as a whole new style staple that's fun and safe for little ones and hip to this season's fashion trends.

Just in time for 2014 they've developed a number of hot new collections featuring their trademark charm and dedication to safety. Like all of their pendants, bangles, and key chains, these necklaces are made from the same silicone that regular baby teething toys and coated infant spoons use. They are phthalate, BPA, PVC, lead, and latex free so mom and dad can let them chew to their hearts' content worry free.

The Gemstone line features a strand of stylish beads that are gentle on babies' gums and emerging teeth while exuding elegance. They can't resist feeling the little beads, and mom will be pleased that they won't weigh her down or get caught in her hair.

The gorgeous Cross Shaped Pendant limited edition line is sure to be a favorite with the spiritual moms who want to stay true to their hearts. These graceful necklaces feature chunky crosses in vibrant hues like blue, gold, bronze, and turquoise.

Smart Mom Jewelry has been bringing parents nationwide multipurpose pieces that combine chic style with functionality since 2002. The company was founded by stay-at-home moms, and has continued to be staffed by moms dedicated to creating products that fulfill the needs of parents and their bundles of joy. Their products have been featured in numerous publications including People, Pregnancy & Newborn, and the Washington Post and have won the iParenting Media Award and Mom's Best Award.