Why is Michael Phelps Covered in Red Welts?

While virtually all Americans — 99.7% — believe a healthy smile is socially important, most Olympians naturally sport a gleaming smile while standing on the podium receiving their medals. Who wouldn’t?

This year in Rio, though, the athletes are also showing off bright red polka dots on their skin.

These red dots are scars from the ancient practice of cupping, a technique said to be extremely helpful to stimulate blood flow and to speed up the recovery time for sore muscles.

The ancient practice, developed in China, has a rich history of about 2,200 years. There are even mentions of this healing technique in ancient Greek and Egyptian texts.
On top of other health benefits, it is believed cupping will restore one’s flow of ‘qi’ through their body, the life force responsible for every action we make.
The therapy consists of a specialist warming glass suction cups and placing them on the body. The placement of the cup creates a partial vacuum which relieves pain in a holistic way, and the red welts are a symptom of blood vessels bursting underneath the skin’s surface.

Olympians of all sports are hopping on the trend. Champion Michael Phelps, U.S. male gymnast Alex Naddour, former Olympic swimmer Natalie Couglin, and Belarus swimmer Pavel Sankovich all have polka dotted legs, backs, and arms.

While this practice may be beneficial for Olympians, there hasn’t been much study on the clinical effects of this treatment. According to CNN, researchers have found cupping to be successful for pain management, but there has not been any research completed with a large sample size to draw medical conclusions.

It is not painless either. Users have reported their skin feeling as if it was trapped in a vacuum, while lit on fire. But for Olympians, a gold medal seems worth it.


Photograph: Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

Apple Is Raising the Price of Apps in Select Locations

It’s just the way it goes. In order to cover the cost to develop an app, mobile designers will often offer an ad-free version for a small fee or a free version that has ads. However, iOS users may find that they’re paying more than they remember apps costing soon.

Apple is increasing the price of its mobile applications and in-app purchases in seven countries in response to currency fluctuations.

In an email sent to iOS app developers, Apple said that it needs to tweak and update the App Store’s prices sometimes, which is exactly what it’s doing in Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, and South Africa.

“Subscriptions will not be interrupted in Canada, New Zealand, Mexico and Singapore. Shortly before their existing subscription renews, subscribers in these territories will receive an email from us to let them know about the price increase with the option to turn off their subscription. Subscribers in Russia and Africa will need to resubscribe at the new price,” said Apple in the email. “Israel will not be impacted, as auto-renewable in-app purchase subscriptions are not supported there.”

In the Canadian and New Zealand app stores, there are two new pricing tiers available. For example, Canada’s lowest Tier 1 pricing will increase from $1.19 CAD to $1.39 CAD, as Next Web reports.

While some may think that these price changes simply reflect currency fluctuations and normalize prices, they also can benefit developers. As <em>ZDNet</em> reports, VAT charges in Romania have now dropped from 24% to 20%, but app prices remain unchanged, which gives developers a little more for their content.

If you’re interested in your territory’s price changes, you can check them all out in Apple’s spreadsheet, which is available online. The price changes listed are based against the fluctuating US dollar.

Online Dating Experts Give Tips to Help Users Stay Safe on the Internet

As online dating continues to surpass real-life interactions as the preferred option for many singles, some relationship experts are giving users tips to help them stay safe on the internet.

According to Bustle, over 40% of singles in the U.S. currently use online dating services. Considering the variables that go into meeting a stranger on the internet, experts are preaching safe dating online to any user who will listen.

Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a contributor to Psychology Today, recommends that new online daters take it slow when it comes to revealing personal information. Until a user meets their match face-to-face, they can never be sure of who they’re talking to.

“It is best to use your first name only during initial conversations and provide more detailed personal information only after you’ve met in person and gotten to know one another well,” said Orbuch. “Legitimate online daters will understand the reasons for doing this and will be doing the same themselves.”

Shani Silver of suggests taking new pictures for online dating profiles that do not reveal where a user works or lives. By using a fresh set of photos, a potential fraud online will have no way of tracing them back to the user.

“It is my opinion that your online dating images should be used only for online dating. Take a separate set of images, selfies, whatever and only use them in your online dating profiles,” said Silver.

Other advice from the experts included waiting at least one week to meet a match face-to-face, as well as planning a first date in a well-lit public location.

While some dating websites already require users to take these precautionary measures, there has been a growing demand for online dating resources that prioritize user safety.

As the holiday season winds to a close, lonely singles may want to use these helpful tips now before they miss their chance at love. According to Esquire, the week after New Year’s Day is the most popular time for online dating every year.

Last year, OkCupid saw a 40% increase in messaging during the weekend after New Year’s Day. Also, sees a 60% spike in activity from Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

“Users who sign up during the first week of January will find their partner an average of two weeks faster than those who sign up later, taking an average of just 10 weeks compared to an average of 12 weeks throughout the year,” said Shannon Smith, spokesperson for Plenty of Fish.

While online daters may be in a rush to find post-holiday companionship, dating experts are hopeful that singles will heed their advice to avoid an awkward or unsafe encounter.

With Cancellations Up, Paris Will Likely Hold Greatest Vacation Value During 2016

Many travelers have decided to cancel their vacations to Paris following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks — but for anyone who’s still looking for the perfect 2016 vacation, Paris might just be the perfect spot for this very reason.

As Skift recently reported, Paris has seen a sudden drop in tourism over the past two months. For the first time since 2011, an annual survey from Travel Leaders Group found that Paris wasn’t among the top 10 international travel destinations for 2016. Although there hasn’t been a significant drop in trip cancellations, around 10% of travel agents said that clients were delaying trips to Paris, while 6% of travel agents said they had cancelled at least one Paris vacation for a client.

Nevertheless, planning a trip to Paris might just be the smartest decision that travelers can make right now. As the Los Angeles Times noted, city tourism officials in Paris saw a significant drop in activity immediately following the attacks and there’s still some concern that the city will take a hard hit during 2016 due to the lack of visitors.

Many people have stated, however, that they are still planning to visit Paris “to send a message of defiance” and to support the Parisian community in the wake of such a tragedy.

It just so happens that France is in the middle of several projects and developments, many of which will come to fruition throughout 2016. Many museums have begun using free apps to provide visitors with audio guides, and also for online ticketing options. The Carnavalet Museum, which features extensive exhibits on French history, is undergoing renovations during 2016.

Parisian officials just began cleaning out the popular tourist spot, the Canal St-Martin, and this will be completed in approximately three months. For travelers hoping to venture outside of Paris, a new direct express bus line easily connects to Vaison-la-Romaine, where visitors can see ancient Roman ruins.

And no visit to the City of Light is complete without stopping by the Eiffel Tower, which recently underwent a $38 million renovation on its first level and now includes shops, dining options, and a multimedia presentation about the history of the monument.

“Whether it’s a show of defiance or not, tourists are currently booking their trips for the summer, which is an early jump never seen before,” said Alley Bradley, Managing Director for Paris Copia. “Already, we’ve seen higher demand for our Paris vacation apartment rentals for the summer months.”

Bradley added, “Paris routinely hosts world-class events throughout the year and that’s one of the major draws to the City of Light. This year, France will host the final round of the 15th UEFA European Football Championships, and 12 matches will be played in Paris alone. A revered European football event, the UEFA Euro 2016 is a spectacle that draws thousands of tourists to the city who take part in festivities both inside and outside the stadium.”

In addition to the city’s various developments, as the Chicago Tribune reported, the value of the U.S. dollar is around 15% stronger than the euro compared to currency values at the beginning of 2015. This means that vacationing in a country like France will be much more affordable.

Man With Cerebral Palsy Crawled Out of an Airplane After Flight Attendants Told Him To “Wait” for His Wheelchair

Disabled Woman In Wheelchair Boarding BusD’Arcee Neal had just spend five hours on a plane, flying from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. and he calmly waited for his fellow passengers to exit the plane. He expected it would take around 15 minutes, as it usually does, for the plane to empty.

Neal’s cerebral palsy renders him unable to walk, but luckily, he owns a specially-built wheelchair that is extra-narrow in order to fit through the aisle of an airplane.

Because Neal is also a considerate person and knows that airplanes never have enough room, he let the flight attendants move the wheelchair to the end of the plane; on this occasion, he assumed that they would bring it back upon landing.

Except they didn’t. And Neal had to use the restroom, but was unable to do so for over five hours since the plane had no wheelchair-friendly toilets. He kept asking the attendants to help him exit the plane, according to CNN, but was told to wait.

So he waited. And waited. And kept waiting. And finally the 29-year-old ended up dragging himself down the aisle for roughly 50 feet as the flight attendants watched.

“The craziest thing was that while that was happening, the attendants just stared. They just couldn’t believe I was doing that. It just seemed so unfathomable to them. By the time they came to their senses I was already out of the plane.”

Neal explained to the Washington Post in a phone interview that many people don’t understand how heavily he relies on his wheelchair to get around. In fact, he’s dealt with this problem in the past; in an NBC Washington article dated June 26, 2014, Neal talked about how lost he was without his wheelchair after the custom-built wheelchair was stolen.

“I can’t go anywhere. I need a wheelchair to be able to do anything,” Neal said. “Rationale says if you see a wheelchair unoccupied at any time in any given place, somebody near by needs it. It’s just that simple. If it doesn’t belong to you, you don’t touch it.”

“The retail value [of the stolen wheelchair] is about $5,000. It has to be custom-built and fit your body… It’s not a phone, or bicycle. It’s like someone literally took the bones out of your legs.”

“I have flown millions of miles over the years and have had the same situation happen to me several times,” says Rick Cooper, Sales Manager, Mobility Healthcare. “You have to be patient and persistent in asking the flight attendant to please contact the people that help board people with disabilities onto the plane. Sometimes the communication between airports regarding disabled people being on a certain flight is not properly passed onto the final destination, thus causing this situation to occur. Once, I flew into Dallas from Grand Rapids, MI and my wheelchair ended up in Chicago. That is a little worse than having your bag go missing.”

As TIME reported, United Airlines has since issued an apology to Neal and offered him $300 as “compensation” for the humiliation. Perhaps allowing him to access his own wheelchair would have been a smarter solution.

It Might be Time to Wash the Five-Second Rule From Your Eating Habits

dirty floorNot a single child in the United States isn’t well-versed in the five-second rule and hasn’t at some point taken advantage of it not to waste their favorite piece of candy. Unfortunately, this famous “rule” may not be as true as many would hope.

According to The Irish News, basic level experts say that even before five seconds is up, you shouldn’t eat anything dropped on the floor because bacteria can transfer to food instantly. In fact, bacteria can live after four weeks just on a carpet, and thanks to a process called “microbial adhesion,” germs such as Salmonella typhimurium, Campylobacter, and Salmonella enteritis, which cause horrible diarrhea and vomiting, can transfer immediately to food.

One of the first official studies testing Genghis Khan’s theory of bacterial contamination — even though he believed food could be safe for consumption even after 12 hours on the floor — was conducted by American high school student Jillian Clarkes as part of an apprenticeship at the University of Illinois.

By inoculating smooth and rough tiles with E. coli, Clark placed either cookies or gummy bears on each tile for five seconds or less. She found that bacteria did transfer to the foods, and that gummy bears were far more susceptible to the transmission.

Similar results were found in a separate study by researchers in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. They contaminated wood, tile, and carpeted surfaces with Salmonella, and then dropped bread on them for either five, 30, or 60 seconds.

Their findings insinuated that the time spent on the floor didn’t affect how much bacteria accumulated on the food, but the type of surface did. Hard surfaces, such as tile or wood, transferred up to 5 to 68% of bacteria, while food dropped on carpet picked up less than 0.5%.

However, The Irish News and The Royal Gazette alike reported on a study from Aston University, which claims that the time food spends on the floor is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria.

The researchers monitored the transmission of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus from carpeted, laminated, and tiled floor with different foods, including toast, pasta, cookies, and sticky sweets. They determined that food that came in contact with the floor for just three seconds had substantially less bacteria than those with 30 seconds of exposure, and the foods that made contact with tile after five seconds had transferred more than 99% of the bacteria.

“Salmonella Typhimurium can survive for up to four weeks on dry surfaces in high enough populations to be transferred to foods and… and can be transferred to the foods tested almost immediately on contact,” concluded the researchers.

The Royal Gazette also reported on a study by Clemson University in South Carolina that states the cleanliness of a floor is a more important consideration than the time food spends on the floor. After dropping bread and bologna on different surfaces, they found that on carpet treated with salmonella, less than 1% of bacteria transferred to food, as compared to 70% on wood and tile.

Regardless of which study had the most accurate findings, the fact of the matter is that any bacteria on the floor will transfer to food. Therefore, it’s time to throw out the five-second rule — and anything that falls off your plate!


‘Divorced’ Couples Actually Still Married Thanks to Divorce Attorney Scam in New Jersey

filling out legal court formsMany times people take what others tell them they are at face value — especially when consulting those in legal and professional fields, where they least expect to encounter fraud and deception. But one case in New Jersey highlights just how important it is to do some research before hiring a lawyer.

Prosecutors say that at least two victims were deceived by 29-year-old Anastasya Varvaryuk of Elmwood Park as she claimed to be a divorce attorney, according to the NYC/New Jersey ABC 7 news.

Although Varvaryuk didn’t steal exorbitant amounts of money from the couples she worked with, she did leave them with one big problem: namely, that they’re still married. Varvaryuk allegedly sold fraudulent divorce judgements to her clients as well as forged a superior court judge’s signature on them in an attempt to pass them off as real.

Now the people who were already trying to get through the difficult process of a divorce must go through the entire ordeal again, but this time hopefully they find a legitimate lawyer to help them. Varvaryuk is not a lawyer and actually worked at Empire Multi Services.

Confidence and the power of persuasion can be powerful things, and it appears that’s all it may have taken for the unhappy couples to fall for Varvaryuk’s scheme. Replying to an online posting of her services on, she answered, “Yes, I am appropriately licensed for my trade,” to a question about licensing on the listing, according to the New Jersey radio station site Apparently, that’s all at least two people needed to hear.

“It’s obviously extremely rare for someone to pass themselves off as a lawyer, but there are many pitfalls to trying to handle a difficult legal situation like a divorce on your own,” says Kenneth J. Phillips, the Law Office of Kenneth J. Phillips.“I have had many clients come to me where their spouse had an attorney and they did not, and as the country and western song says,”they got the shaft.” Unfortunately, divorces are only partly a matter of legalities; most of what I have to deal with are the personalities of my client and the spouse, and those personalities are at their worst during a divorce, especially when there are children involved. If you’re even thinking about getting a divorce, go to a lawyer to discuss your situation and your options. It will be time well spent.”

According to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, practicing law without a license and forgery are third-degree crimes that can carry three to five years each serving time in State Prison as punishment. Authorities continue to investigate the case and are trying to determine if there are more victims who may be unknowingly still married.

Zacks Downgrades Leading Aftermarket Auto Parts Distributor to a Hold Rating

Car partsA true gearhead would scoff at the idea of buying an aftermarket part for their vehicle, but a market for these products does exist. However, for one of the leading distributors in the industry, the future looks slightly bleaker than usual.

According to Financial Wisdom Works, U.S. Auto Parts Network (NASDAQ:PRTS) had its stocks lowered from a strong-buy rating to a hold on Tuesday morning by investment research firm Zacks.

U.S. Auto Parts Network is a leading online provider of automotive aftermarket parts, including body parts, engine parts, performance parts, and accessories.

Shares for the company were at $2.35 on Tuesday. It currently trades 5,237 shares, with a one-year low of $1.50 and a peak of $3.34.

Investors may be hesitant to invest in the company due to a new trend of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts that have become the most popular option for those customizing their vehicles.

Many car owners avoid aftermarket parts as they can potentially void their warranty, but mechanics will sometimes use them in place of original parts to cut costs.

In 21 states and the District of Columbia, a body shop’s repair estimate does not have to indicate whether aftermarket parts will be used.

According to Money Flow Index, the public’s unfavorable opinion of aftermarket parts is also having an effect on other major companies. Shares of Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC) traded with a loss of -0.06% in the last session.

Goldman Sachs, another renowned investment research firm, downgraded their rating of Genuine Parts Company on the heels of their slight decline.

U.S. Auto Parts Network had revenue of $76.5 million for the most recent quarter, which paled in comparison to the consensus estimate of $79.2 million investors pegged for the company a few months ago.

Blueberries Could Improve Your Oral Health, But Don’t Get Your Hopes Up


Another natural extract is making the rounds in the medical community, this time promising to help fight nasty dental conditions that can drastically impact your pearly whites.

According to Daily Rx News, scientists from the Université Laval in Quebec have found that compounds in blueberries called polyphenols may stop oral bacteria from growing.

The study is the latest in a series of reports supporting the health benefits of food extracts. For example, the International Business Times recently reported that a new cocoa-extract can help fight Alzheimer’s.

While you may associate blueberries with leaving a blueish-black tint on your teeth, Dr. Daniel Grenier, a microbiologist and professor of dentistry at Université Laval, believes a specific extract may aid in fighting gingivitis.

Gingivitis occurs when bacteria forms plaque on the teeth, which leads to inflamed gums. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, or severe gum disease, which has been linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Grenier and team tested blueberry extracts against a bacterium called Fusobacterium nucleatum, which is one of the primary bacteria species in periodontitis.

According to NewsMax, the blueberry extract didn’t simply inhibit the growth of the germ, but it also blocked a molecular pathway to prevent inflammation of the gums.

While the news is promising for the future of dentistry, even visiting your family dentistry practice and seeing a periodontist with experience in treating the disease is still your best option.

In the meantime, feel free to eat as many blueberries as you want. Even if they don’t improve your oral health, they sure are delicious.

Sleep Apnea May be Eased by Sinus Surgery

Snoring man

When you struggle with sinus troubles, it can be difficult to breathe well enough to get a good night’s sleep. But now, you may be able to put those days behind you, as a new study says that sinus surgery may correct this problem for people who suffer from sinus issues and even sleep apnea.

The study, which was published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery online, found that about 15% of people who go through sinus issues also have obstructive sleep apnea, the study said. After undergoing surgery to clear their sinuses, participants also found that the issues the had in relation to sleep apnea were eased. They were able to sleep better throughout the night and have a better quality of life.

“Poor sleep, feeling tired, and fatigue are all frequent complaints of patients with chronic sinus disease,” said Dr. Jeremiah Alt. The doctor was an author to the study as well as a nose, ear, and throat surgeon at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

“Sinus and nasal problems often are part of the problem leading to snoring and sleep apnea, and are often overlooked and left untreated, ” said Dr. Jordan Josephson. He was not involved in the current study, but he read its findings and works as a specialist at New York City’s Lennox Hill Hospital. He also added that anyone with chronic sinus issues and/or breathing problems should be checked for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by frequent breathing interruptions during sleep. The airways collapse, not allowing air to get through. Symptoms of the disorder include snoring, fatigue, and gasping for air, among others. Treatment options include BIPAP and CPAP machines, which pump air through the airways, not allowing them to close.

For the study, the doctors sent out questionnaires to 400 people who underwent surgery after having chronic sinus issues and/or sleep apnea. Sixty of the patients had both sleep apnea and sinus problems. After the surgery, it was found that patients did in fact improve issues they face psychologically and issues pertaining to sleep. The doctors do, however, acknowledge that the exact connection between sinus problems and sleep apnea is unclear.

“When we’re asleep, we prefer to breathe through our noses,” said Peter Fotinakes, a sleep disorder specialist. “When we can’t, we open our mouth to breathe, and when you open your mouth, it sets your tongue free.” He added that since sinuses force you to breathe through your mouth and sleep apnea can be caused by your tongue falling back to block your airway, they are likely related.

The doctors say surgery should not be the first step of treatment, but rather a more advanced option if nothing else is working. Other medicines and treatments are available for both sleep apnea and sinuses, and should be used before an invasive treatment such as surgery.

“However, many patients see tremendous benefits in both disease severity and overall quality of life after sinus surgery” that they didn’t get with medicines alone, Alt added.

“The good news is that with newer surgical techniques, most of these procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis without general anesthesia, requiring no packing, no black and blues, with minimal discomfort and most patients can go back to work or school the next day,” Josephson said.