Glimmer of Hope in Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

July 18, 2012

The dark shadowy existence that Alzheimer’s Disease has instilled upon millions of its victims throughout the last few decades may have finally been met with a glimmer of hope.

Although it is still in the testing phase, the immune therapy treatment called IVIG/Gammagard, is being hailed by experts at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, as the first treatment shown to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Treatment

As reported by the Associated Press, the drug is a collection of antibodies from pooled blood donations given as infusions every two weeks. These antibodies may help clear the sticky plaque that clogs the patient’s brain.

The findings on the treatment, made by Baxter International, follow a frustrating nine-year research period during which no new therapies have been discovered for the incurable brain-wasting disease affecting 5.4 million people in the United States.

The participants  in the recent study did not show improvement in most of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s they already had, but also did not show any further decline on measures of cognition, memory, daily functioning or mood over three years.

FDA Approval

Ironically, Gammaguard has already been approved by the FDA for treating other diseases caused by immune disorders. It’s a drug that relies on blood donations from healthy individuals and uses the antibodies that are rich in plasma. But this renders the drug limited in supply and very expensive at this stage, with monthly doses ranging from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the person’s body size.

Of course, the FDA will need time, some estimate 10 years, before approval for use in treating Alzheimer’s is granted.

Even with the usual limitations that come attached to new drug treatments, the hope remains that finally, we might shed light on this terrible and mysterious disease that plagues us, and so many of our family members.

Are Warehouse Clubs like Costco & Sam’s Worth the Cost?

July 17, 2012

Shopping at one of the big warehouse club chains, like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s, can be an afternoon adventure for some.  Lots of good deals and super-sized products can lure you in to a purchasing frenzy.  But is it worth the cost? Don’t look now, but you might not be saving as much as you thought.

CNBC reports that customers may believe they’re paying for a chance to save money, but some experts think membership fees actually cause consumers to spend more.  Membership in these club stores does not come free; each requires you to pay before you purchase a single item. Sam’s Club charges $40 for basic membership, BJ’s $50, and Costco $55.

Saving Money

Part of the twist with warehouse clubs is you have to make up that initial investment, before you start saving money.  Certainly, you can save money, but you may end up buying more than you need in the long run.  There are good deals, though. According to a Consumers’ Checkbook survey published by the not-for-profit Center for the Study of Services, BJ’s prices were on average 29 percent lower, Costco’s 30 percent lower, and Sam’s 33 percent lower than the largest supermarket chains.

Lack of Selection

The trade-off is often a lack of selection. Warehouse clubs carry a relatively small array of items in a limited range of sizes. The Consumers’ Checkbook survey found that warehouse club shoppers would only be able to find about half of the products they buy at their regular supermarket. BJ’s carries roughly 7,200 individual items, Sam’s club about 4,900 items, and Costco around 4,000.

Click here to read more in the full report from CNBC.

GM Recall’s Chevy Cruze Due to Fire Safety Issue

June 25, 2012

By: Darrin Clouse

If you own a 2011 or 2012 Chevy ” Cruze,” you need to cruise it on into your local dealer/mechanic soon.

General Motors just announced a recall on 475-thousand of the Cruze model vehicles, due to what is being called a fire risk.

It’s been determined that there is a defect in the engine shield, responsible for keeping flammable liquids from becoming trapped in the engine compartment, and this poses a serious enough fire hazard to implement the recall.

The good news is, instead of the consumer being hassled with returning the vehicle altogether, the fix is simple enough to be handled by a local GM certified mechanic and is estimated to only take around 30 minutes. Of course, the repair will be free of charge.

Remember, you can’t put a price tag on safety, and when it’s free, there’s no excuse to ignore it.

Poison in Your Purse? Retailers Sell Lead Tainted Handbags

June 21, 2012

Your purse could be carrying a lot more than your wallet and keys, these days.  New findings reported by a consumer watchdog group show that some of the most fashionable purses being sold contain high levels of lead.  The new study has raised questions regarding the safety of purses, an accessory that millions of Americans carry with them everyday.

Click here to learn more and watch an exclusive report by ABC Network News Correspondent Lisa Fletcher.

Read more

Facebook is Going after Your Kids

June 6, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

Facebook is researching technology that would allow children 12 and younger to join in on its social networking phenomenon. Right now, members need to be 13 years old to join, but if you think underage kids don’t lie about their age in order to join, then you’re really going to be surprised to find out your 11 year old can probably hack into any password protected account on your laptop (remember that whenever you are making birthday gift lists).

That somewhat gullible approach to parenting is what children and teens rely on, so they can stretch their boundaries. It doesn’t mean you have a bad kid, it just means kids are very curious about all the bad things they’re told not to do, and most children aren’t famous for considering the consequences of their actions until it’s much too late.

Facebook trying to be the good guys?

I know Facebook bashing is all the rage, but before lighting the torches on them, you should be aware that their intentions here are actually on the side of safety. The Wall Street Journal reported the new technology would allow parents to decide who their kids can accept as a friend, and what applications they can use.

The hope is that kids will choose to go with the legal, parental-controlled version of Facebook, with mom or dad supervising and giving clearance on every action they take. That’s much better than what’s no doubt happening now.  Underage kids telling a little white lie about their age to gain access to the full-on version, with nobody watching what they say or do in the vast and endless virtual playground.  No rules, and no parent okay needed to add a friend or anything else.

Just an introduction course

Susan Bartell, a psychologist and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask, told USA Today that she has other concerns as well. “I really worry that it comes with a false sense of safety. I think too many parents will think their kids are safe on “Baby Facebook” and now they don’t have to monitor them. And after a month or two of that, they’re going to be like, “I’m done with that” and will start a regular Facebook, and Tumblr and Twitter and just use a name their parents don’t know.”

Other concerned critics worry about the enormous privacy issues that already exist on Facebook. So if they can’t protect the flock they’re herding already, why should we trust them to keep the wolves away from our even younger, and more innocent children?

Tell us how you feel. Do you “Like” the new technology idea for Facebook, or should they “Delete” the whole idea?

Email us here at The Consumer Warning Network and let us know. Click on the video below to watch a FoxNews report on this latest Facebook controversy.

Up in the Air; Mixed Reviews on Airline A La Carte Fees

June 1, 2012

By Darrin Clouse :

The old saying : “The only constant is change” has held up for centuries and is applicable to many of our daily routines. I doubt that François de la Rochefoucauld was pondering the airline industry when he came up with his famous perception of our world, but it certainly applies to recent adjustments.

Many of us remember when smoking was allowed during flights, and you could even get away with calling the flight attendant “stewardess.”  But the changes we’re experiencing these days are more related to cost, and many consumers feel they are now paying for services that they received for free in the past.

Read more

Show Me the Fake Money

May 21, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

I can’t help but crack up anytime I’m checking out at the grocery store  and the cashier holds my $20 bill up to the sky to make sure it’s real… as if she’s asking some higher power to inspect this legal tender for forgery.

Or maybe she pulls out the highlighter and swipes it across the bill waiting for the proper color to appear.  Come on Orange !!!!

The reason it’s so funny to me is because I most likely have been making idle conversation with this person for the last 5 minutes, and maybe we’ve laughed because I’ve pointed out my crappy eating habits or some other self-deprecating comment, and even after breaking that stranger barrier, she blows the mood by basically saying, “Hold on a minute, I just need to make sure you’re not a felon who prints his own money at home.”

Okay, I understand the policy wasn’t made by the cashier, and I probably shouldn’t take offense to the ritual, but it’s difficult not to be slightly miffed at the suggestion. Even so, I have nothing to complain about compared to a man in New Jersey who recently got stuck with counterfeit cash from his own bank.

Stiffed at the bank

A New Jersey man recently withdrew $2,500 in cash from his TD Bank account and tried to deposit in his account at Bank of America. Unfortunately, one of $100 bills he was given by TD Bank turned out to be counterfeit.  Bank of America turned him away.

The man returned to TD bank to question the teller there, and even though she remembered the transaction and acknowledged she had most likely passed the counterfeit bill to him, there was nothing the bank could do. The bank manager broke the news to the dumbfounded customer and informed him that it was bank policy that once a customer accepts cash — counterfeit or not — it’s the customer’s problem and not the bank’s.

Tips to Spot it before it happens to You

It’s an expensive lesson to learn, so to help you avoid getting stuck with “fake” money, here are a few tips gathered by the folks at Wisebread.com.

Look for the watermark. Hold the bill up to the light and you should be able to see a telltale image emerge. If the watermark doesn’t match the portrait or denomination of the bill, it might be a reprinted forgery. ( Ahh-haa, the “eye in the sky” method!)

– Check for color-shifting ink. Larger bills are imprinted with ink that appears to be a different color when you look at it from an angle rather than head-on.

Texture. Real money, made with linen and cotton, has a distinctively crisp feel. Compare it to another bill in your wallet.

Lesson Learned

All good advice for you, but what about the poor guy in New Jersey?   He’s writing the whole experience off as a cautionary tale for others and is talking about it to help consumers.

“I feel like I have been duped, but I don’t want the money back,” he says. “I consider the $100 to be a donation to educating your readers,” the man told The Consumerist website.

We might not all be so forgiving.  Should banks be responsible for forged money they accidentally pass along to the customer?  Let us know what you think by contacting us here at The Consumer Warning Network.

Reader Comments:

Garrett in NH:

“So now Banks have really shown their colors. They stell(sic) our money with ridiculously low interest rates on our savings, ridiculously high interest and fees on what they loan to us. They get bail outs and still will not take responsibility for their actions.
What part of the 10 C\’s do they not understand (hint #8)”…

Ron in MD:

Yes, banks should be responsible for forged money they accidentally pass.
There must be a way of recording exactly what bills are given to a customer, such that a bank can prove whether each bill is genuine. And banks could be required to check money they give out.
In any case, there should be zero-risk of getting funny money from a bank.

Friday before Memorial Day is “Don’t FRY Day”

May 20, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

Lots of good old fashioned fun in the sun is right around the corner as we head into the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.  That means it’s more important than ever to wear your sunscreen.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States.  More than 15,000 people died from skin cancers in the US, last year, and more people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year than breast, prostrate, lung and colon cancer combined.  In addition, a troubling trend is emerging when it comes to the disease.  More young people than ever are being diagnosed with melanomas at earlier ages.

Raising Awareness

To help raise awareness as we hit the summer season, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has named the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day.”

Here are some tips from the Council on what you can do to be safe in the sun:

1. Do Not  Burn: Overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for  skin cancer.

2. Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds: Ultraviolet  (UV) light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.   If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, use a sunless self-­tanning product instead.

3. Cover Up: Wear protective clothing, such as a long-­sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-­brimmed- hat,  and sunglasses, where possible.

4. Seek Shade/Use Umbrellas: Seek shade when appropriate.   Remember that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

5. Generously Apply Sunscreen: Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 that provides broad-­spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

6. Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow and Sand: Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.

7. Check the UV Index: The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to  the sun.  Developed by the National Weather Service (NWS) and  EPA, you can find the UV Index for your area  online at:  www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html.

8. Get Vitamin D Safely: Get vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with vitamin D. Don’t seek the sun or indoor tanning.

Click here to learn more about frequently asked questions about sunburn.

Have fun this Memorial Day weekend, and be sure to protect yourself!

What
You
Can
Do
to
Be
Safe
in
the
Sun:
1. Do
Not
Burn
Overexposure
to
the
sun
is
the
most
preventable
risk
factor
for
skin
cancer.
2. Avoid
Sun
Tanning
and
Tanning
Beds
Ultraviolet
(UV)
light
from
tanning
beds
and
the
sun
causes
skin
cancer
and
wrinkling.
If
you
want
to
look
like
you’ve
been
in
the
sun,
use
a
sunless
self-­?tanning
product
instead.
3. Cover
Up
Wear
protective
clothing,
such
as
a
long-­?sleeved
shirt,
pants,
a
wide-­?brimmed
hat,
and
sunglasses,
where
possible.
4. Seek
Shade/Use
Umbrellas
Seek
shade
when
appropriate.
Remember
that
the
sun’s
UV
rays
are
strongest
between
10
a.m.
and
4
p.m.
5. Generously
Apply
Sunscreen
Generously
apply
sunscreen
to
all
exposed
skin
using
a
Sun
Protection
Factor
(SPF)
of
at
least
30
that
provides
broad-­?spectrum
protection
from
both
UVA
and
UVB
rays.
Reapply
every
two
hours,
even
on
cloudy
days,
and
after
swimming
or
sweating.
6. Use
Extra
Caution
Near
Water,
Snow
and
Sand
Water,
snow
and
sand
reflect
the
damaging
rays
of
the
sun,
which
can
increase
your
chance
of
sunburn.
7. Check
the
UV
Index
The
UV
Index
provides
important
information
to
help
you
plan
your
outdoor
activities
in
ways
that
prevent
overexposure
to
the
sun.
Developed
by
the
National
Weather
Service
(NWS)
and
EPA,
you
can
find
the
UV
Index
for
your
area
online
at:
www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html.
8. Get
Vitamin
D
Safely
Get
vitamin
D
safely
through
a
diet
that
includes
vitamin
supplements
and
foods
fortified
with
vitamin
D.
Don’t
seek
the
sun
or
indoor
tanning.

Email Virus Scam Gone Postal

May 11, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

The U.S. Postal Service has recently reported that some customers are receiving bogus emails about a package delivery.

The subject line reads : “USPS Delivery Failure Notification,” and the message claims that the USPS has attempted to deliver a package.

To receive the package , customers are instructed to click on the link provided , but what they receive is a virus that collects personal information like usernames, passwords and financial records.

Adding insult to injury, there is no package waiting for them.

Scam Casts Wide Net

Since everyone in the country is a customer of the postal service, this new scam is more clever than previous ones. In the past, imposters would claim to be representatives from the customer’s bank or credit union, but if the recipient didn’t use that particular institution, the jig was up.

Steve Stebbins, with the Postal Inspection Service says, “Right now, our federal agents are working with the IT folks at the Postal Service in an attempt to track down the source of these scammers.”

What to do?

If you receive a questionable e-mail, either delete it immediately, or check with the Postal Service to make sure it’s authentic. There is also a toll-free number you can call (1-800-ASK-UPS)  , or you can email them at spam@uspis.gov to request assistance.

Most importantly, keep in mind that the internet is a swindler’s playground, and today’s technology makes it possible for anyone to re-create a company’s logo or design, and pose as a legitimate representative. So be careful, and always err on the side of caution, or else you might receive an unwanted special delivery.

Warning Signs that a Used Car is a Rebuilt Wreck

May 9, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

Buying a used car has always been a risky business. Today more than ever, consumers can’t afford to take a chance on buying a lemon, and it may turn out that the used car you are looking at is more used than you might think.

A vehicle that appears to be in good shape, might be hiding a history of damages, and if you know where to look you can spot the telltale signs before getting swindled.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things to look for, according to a story on ConsumerReports.org:

1. Paint that chips off or doesn’t match indicates damage repair and poor blending.

2. Paint over-spray on chrome, trim, or rubber seals around body openings reveals that the adjacent panel was repaired.

3. Misaligned fenders suggest a poor repair job or use of non original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) parts.

4. CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) sticker on any part may indicate collision repair.

5. Uneven tread wear reveals wheel misalignment, possibly because of frame damage.

6. Mold or air freshener cover-up suggests water damage from a leak or flood.

7. Silt in trunk may mean flood damage.

8. Fresh undercoating on wheel wells, chassis, or engine strongly suggests recent structural repairs covered up.

9. Door that doesn’t close correctly could point to a door-frame deformation and poor repair.

10. Hood or trunk that doesn’t close squarely may indicate twisting from side impact.

An inspection by a certified, trustworthy mechanic is always the best defense , but you can save yourself the trouble if you are well -informed and privy to the warning signs of a rebuilt wreck.

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