The Link Between Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Hey Eceryone! 

Hope you’re all doing well! 

I personally never drink any type of alcoholic beverage however, I know many people who swear of the benefits of drinking a glass of wine a day. Without a doubt, wine and especially red wine, does have a number of health benefits .

However, fairly recent research by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has found that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day (which is about 10 grams of alcohol) increases women’s risk for breast cancer. 

The report stated that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day increased the risk of breast cancer by five percent for premenopausal women and increased the risk by nine percent for postmenopausal women. It’s also important to mention that this report is referring to a small glass of wine or beer with about 10 grams of alcohol, however, most standard glasses are larger and have around 14 grams of alcohol. 

This report analyzed 119 studies on this topic that included data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. 

On a more positive note, this report also found that leading an active lifestyle, by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, can reduce the risk of breast cancer in both pre and post menopausal women. Excercise reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent in premenopausal women and reduced the risk by 10 percent in post menopausal women. 

Here in the United States breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women with over 252,000 cases diagnosed this year alone. The AICR estimates that one third of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active, and maintained a healthy weight. 

As I was writing this post I received a news notification in my phone that Julia Louis Dreyfus has been diagnosed with beast cancer and she had the following to say: 

And I couldn’t agree more! 

Unfortunately, there are no fool proof ways to prevent breast cancer but it is definitely nice to learn that there are steps that we can take to reduce our chances.
With Love,

Yasmin 

Top Three Sites to Help You Find a Trustworthy Charity

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!!! 

As many of you may know these past few weeks many people have been suffering and have faced unimaginable hardship due to a number of destructive natural disasters. Just this week alone, Hurricane Maria has devasted Puerto Rico and other areas in the Caribbean and Mexico has suffered a second large Earthquake in less than a month.

During such difficult times I know that many people genuinely want to donate to help out the victims. However, many people, that I have personally come across, are hesitant to donate because they don’t know how to find out if a particular charity is truly trustworthy in the sense that they will actually donate most of the money to the cause that they’re claiming to support. 

Of course, I do believe that this is a valid concern because the overwhelming majority of us work very hard to earn our income and we want to make sure that the money that we do donate reaches its rightful recipients. 

In order to make this process a bit easier I would highly recommend using the following sites:

1. Charity Navigator 

Charity Navigator is definitely my favorite site to use to evaluate a charity. It’s super easy to use. You just type the name of the charity and click search. What I also love about Charity Navigator is that it actually gives the charity a grade. Four stars is the highest grade and it indicates a fully trustworthy charity. Aside from just giving it a star grade Charity Navigator lists and evaluates many different important components of a charity. 

2. BBB Wise Giving Alliance 

Give.org also known as BBB Wise Giving Alliance is associated with the Better Business Bureau which helps us consumers choose businesses we can trust. (As a side note if you ever want to make an online purchase from a retailer whom you don’t know much about its a great idea to check the BBB out). The BBB Wise Giving Alliance does not grade a charity but it has a set of around 20 standards that fall within the categories of: governance, measuring effectiveness, finances, and fundraising and info. It judges each charity based on these standards and let’s you know if the stand has been met or not. If the charity has not yet been evaluated by the Better BBB Wise Giving Alliance then it’s states “not yet evaluated”. 

3. Guide Star

Guide Star is the third option that I have come across. Guide Star tries to be very neutral so they don’t grade or judge a charity based on any particular standards. Basically what they do is publish the IRS Form 990. They reveal the charities spending program/mission, income, and the salaries of their top ranking employees. Guide Star has the records for around two million nonprofits that are registered with the IRS. They do have a paid option however, I don’t think that option is necessary.
I hope that you will find these tips to be helpful the next time you search for a charity.
With Love,

Yasmin 

Recent Tragedies and How You Can Help

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

These past few days and weeks we have witnessed a number of tragic natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Hurricanr Irma in the United States. Mexico has witnessed two tragic natural disasters, an 8.2 Earthquake and Hurricane Katia. On top of this there is the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, which is the largest humanitarian crisis since WWII. 

Then there is also the genoicide of the Rohingya. This is also an ongoing problem that has escalated recently and I feel that it has not gotten enough media coverage. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority living in the Buddhist nation of Myanmar also known as Burma in Southeast Asia. Click here for a brief description of  the crisis and here for a bit more detailed and thorough explanation. 

All of these innocent people that are affected by these tragic natural disasters and man-made crisis are in desperate need of humanitarian aid and support. Here are some reliable and trustworthy charities that you can support so that they can help those that are in need. This is not a full list of all charities it is just some of the ones that I researched and found to be the most trustworthy: 

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria: 

Hurricane Harvey: 

All Hands

Global Giving

Samaritan’s Purse
Salvation Army
Team Rubicon

Greater Houston Community Fund

Americares

SBP

Airbnb

Hurricane Irma:

 Airbnb

Americares

American University in Antigua

Caribbean Eagles

Global Giving

Salvation Army

Save the Children

Samaritan’s Purse
Unicef USA

Mercy Corps

Catholic Relief Services

Oxfam

Convoy of Hope
Hurricane Maria:

GoFundMe
Fundly
Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund
UNICEF
ConPRmetidos
Global Giving
Save the Children
Unidos Por Puerto Rico
Team Rubicon
Catholic Charities USA
All Hands
Syrian Refugees and Myanmar/Burma Refugees:

Syrian Refugees:

American Refugee Committee
CARE
Catholic Relief Services
Global Help Network International
Global Giving
Helping Hand for Relief and Development
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Relief USA
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Unicef USA

Myanmar/Burma Refugees:

Partners Relief and Development

Save the Children Federation
Islamic Relief USA
USA for UNHCR
Mexico Earthquakes and Hurricane Katia Aid:

Operation Blessing
Save the Children
Unicef USA

Mexican Red Cross
Direct Relief
Fondo Unido Mexico
Donating money is vital to making sure that those in need receive proper and prompt aid. Please consider donating any amount, even if it seems small or trivial. Always remember that a bunch of small donations can lead to something great!
However, donating money is certainly not the only way you can help! There are many volunteering opportunities! 

Hurricane Harvey:

Team Rubicon USA
Adventures
Samaritan’s Purse
NVOAD

Hurricane Irma:

Volunteer Florida
NVOAD

Syrian Refugees:

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
UNHCR

Mexico: I couldn’t find any specific volunteer opportunities for the recent earthquake but here is a general way to volunteer in Mexico

International Volunteer HQ

Myanmar/Burma:

DARE

I know that volunteering is not for everyone but with the exception of Mexico and Myanmar many of the opportunities listed above are volunteer opportunities that can be done if you are in the local area or some, especially those for Syria, can be done in your own local community because they involve things like fundraising and advocacy. 

You can also help by signing your name on a petition:

Hurricane Harvey:

Change.org

Hurricane Irma:

Change.org

Support for Refugees:

UNHCR

Syrian Refugees:

MoveOn.org

Myanmar/Burma Refugees:

Change.org

Mexico Earthquake:

Care 2 Petitions

All of these victims come from different backgrounds and walks of life. However, they are all human beings who have become victims of difficult situations and I truly believe that it is our moral responsibility to help them in any way that we can.


With Love,

Yasmin
This post has been updated to include links to charities that help the victims of Hurricane Maria and the second major Earthquake to hit Mexico. 

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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Now that I’ve graduated from college there are definitely a few things that I wish I knew before I entered college and along the way there were definitely a few things that I have learned about the college experience and I would like to share these with you.

Apply Everywhere

If you are a high school student and you know for sure that you want to go straight to a four-year university then I would really suggest that you try to apply to as many universities as you can. Many of the public universities offer high school students a free application.

It is really important to have an open mind and don’t set your heart on just one particular college because this can potentially set you up for disappointment.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to apply to a college that you think you would never get into because nowadays college admissions are becoming much more holistic meaning that they look at you as a whole person and not just based on your grades.

Community College

I personally started off at a community college and then I transferred to a four-year university. Here in the United States community colleges are local two-year higher education institutions where students can study and take classes that are of equivalent value to the classes that are offered in the first two years of a larger university.

Community colleges are a great budget friendly option because they are significantly cheaper than four-year universities. Community college is also great option for those that could not or chose not to take the SAT/ACT or those that just performed poorly on those tests.

Community college students are held by the same standards of excellence as university students.

Consider your Financial Aid Options

I was very fortunate to graduate university without any student loans and it was all thanks to the generous financial aid package that I received. It is completely up to you whether you choose to attend a public or private university however, in my experience public universities have much more generous financial aid packages.

In most cases you have to apply for financial aid from the government before you even start attending the university so make sure to look at the deadlines and apply as soon as possible.

If you’re in the U.S. each state has its own deadline for applying for state financial aid so make sure that you look that up as well. Here is a great resource for you to check out your own state’s deadlines State benefits are often even more generous so make sure you apply for both federal (FAFSA) and state financial aid.

If you have to take out a student loan I would definitely recommend Federal Loans because they are provided by the government and they charge lower interest rates than private loans and the monthly amount that you pay back after you graduate is based on how much money you actually make.

If you are interested in private companies one possible option is Earnest which offers great rates on personal loans, and helps you save money by using their platform for student loan refinancing. Earnest’s mission is to offer lower interest rates than traditional banks on personal loans and save you time and money when paying your student loans.

Meet with an academic counselor:

As a college student, you will likely put a good amount of effort into each class that you take and the last thing you want to happen is to find out that a class that you took and studied for will not count towards your degree! To avoid this problem and many other similar problems, you should really meet with an academic counselor.

Academic counselors are a free resource that are there to help you choose the correct classes and they can help answer a wide range of questions that you might have. In many cases they can create an academic plan specifically designed for you.

Take Advantage of Free Resources

Aside from academic counselors’ colleges and universities offer a wide range of other completely free resources for their students. Some of these free resources may include tutoring centers, math center, writing center, multicultural center, psychological counseling, financial aid office, student support services and a career center.

The important thing to remember is that there are a lot of people willing to help you during your time at university but they are not going to come ask you if you need help you need to go to them and they will help you with the rest.

Check out the Library

One free resource that all universities have is the library. The library is a great place to sit back and study and/or complete your assignments. The quiet atmosphere of the library truly makes it an ideal place for students. Most libraries have computers where you can get work done and for a nominal fee you can print papers. Many libraries have a course reserve where professors often place a copy of their course’s required textbook.

Attend Class:

I know that this is definitely a no-brainer but during my time in college I was surprised at how many people would simply skip class. First of all, I feel like not attending class, without a good reason is like throwing away the money that you spent on tuition. Also, just attending class and being present can really make the difference in helping you earn the grade that you deserve.

Additional tip: Attend office hours. The idea of meeting one to one with a professor may seem daunting but remember that professors are human beings and most of them actually want to help you succeed. One of my professors always encouraged us to meet her in office hours and she said that perhaps she can explain a topic differently than she would in class and this can help you better understand the topic.

Work Hard but don’t sweat about your grade:

Personally, whenever I took a more challenging course I would always worry that I would fail the course. However, the reality is that with hard work any college course can be passed. The only thing that you should do is to work hard and do your part as the student. Professors are often more lenient  than they may appear. At the end of the course they may give everyone a slight bump. Many courses are graded on the curve and usually this helps the hard-working students.

Be Social:

College is not just for academics but it is also a time to make friends and expand your network. My personal advice is to really take advantage of the first few weeks. During this time, everyone tends to be more social and it’s a great time to meet new people.

Many universities have hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Try to join at least one club and this can be a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and potentially make life-long friends.

Take a nap:

Ideally, everyone including college students, should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, I know that as a college student this can be difficult number to achieve. As students, we have too many things on our plate and in order to fulfill all of our responsibilities sleep is often sacrificed. However, if you’re feeling tired during the day it is highly recommended that you take a 30-minute nap. A nap can rejuvenate your body and recharge your brain.

These were just a few tips and things that I personally wish that I knew during my time in college and I hope that it will be helpful to you!

Also, feel free to share some of your own tips for college success in the comments below or feel free to Tweet me @YasminRaoufi

With Love,

Yasmin