Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Ken Ferris and John Mehaffey
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Starting at $323.95, STC's base study package, SIE/Series 7 Top-Off Standard, is as fully loaded as some other providers' premium packages. The enrollment, valid for six months, includes both online and printed study manuals, access to an instructor hotline, 24/7 tech support, and final exams. It also features Crunch Time Facts, which summarize the study manual's "must-know" facts by chapter.
With the next package tier, the $485.93 SIE/Series 7 Top-Off Premiere, students can add on-demand lectures and online flash cards. The flash cards, which can be organized by course, chapter, or FINRA test sections, allow students to test their knowledge and focus on areas of weakness. This package also comes with the pass guarantee and additional exams.
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In this ongoing Entrepreneur Autos series, we are testing new vehicles to find out how well-suited they are to the busy, multi-faceted lives of small business owners and founders.
Car companies put their vehicles through grueling tests before releasing them to the public in order to ensure the comfort and safety of their drivers. From cruising test tracks with dozens of tight turns to purposely crashing into cement barriers, they make their cars suffer on the test course so that their customers can have peace of mind — and fun! — no matter what kinds of crazy conditions mother nature or crowded parking lots bring them in real life.
Related: 'Barbie' Is Driving a Huge Surge in Vintage Car Buying Says Hagerty CEO
Recently, I gave the 2023 Mazda CX-50 the ultimate torture test: I took it on a family vacation.
While it wasn't exactly the Griswolds driving across the country to Wally World, we did spend a ton of time in the car. And after a week of cruising up and down the California coast, alternating between twisty mountain roads and traffic-clogged hellscapes with my wife and two sons, I am thrilled to report that the CX-50 exceeded all expectations — keeping my family comfy and me sane after a week behind the wheel.
It doesn't change exactly size and shape, but its incredible versatility made me feel like it does.
The CX-50 is called compact, but its trunk easily fit our four medium suitcases and backpacks, and had room to spare. The front seats of the Turbo Premium Plus model I was driving were sweet and spacious and the backseat had plenty of room to allow the two teenagers (i.e. professional complainers) to man-spread to their hearts' content. All seats on this model are leather, as is the steering wheel cover, and while we were driving around in the hot California sun, the ventilated seats were a very welcomed perk.
Related: How Maserati Recharged Its Brand
But while it felt big and roomy on the inside, it was compact when it needed to be. Specifically, when navigating through that endless parking lot that Los Angeles calls its freeway system. I was able to narrow openings and the turbocharged 227-horsepower engine provided plenty of zip when it was time to merge (or cut someone off, sorry.) Overall, between the luxe trim and the punchy engine, the CX-50 was practical and at the same time felt way cooler than a typical suburban dad mobile.
Photo credit: Mazda
Mother Nature blessed me with zero sense of direction, so when I get behind the wheel, it is critical that my Google Maps is able to connect to the info system or I am doomed. I would still be trying to find the exit at LAX if the CX-50 didn't have an easy-to-navigate infotainment display. A click wheel in the center console controls everything on the car's 8.8-inch screen and allows for wireless connection to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as wireless charging. The sound systems vary between models. An eight-speaker stereo is standard while the Premium and Premium Plus model I was driving comes with a 12-speaker Bose stereo with SiriusXM satellite radio. The sound, well, sounded great, especially when I would blast Katy Perry's "California Gurls" to torture my sons (and also because I secretly and completely unironically like that song.)
Photo Credit: Mazda
When it comes to safety, the CX-50 comes with all the bells and whistles. Literally. The lane departure warning system chimes like you just completed a level of Super Mario if you don't stay perfectly aligned in your lane, which isn't totally easy to do on the winding PCH. I am somewhat tech challenged, and so my only complaint about the car was that I couldn't figure out how to turn it off or at least make it quieter. I supposed you might be thinking to yourself, "Hey Dan, why didn't you just look in the car manual, or better yet, learn how to drive?" I wish I had a snappy answer to either of those questions but I do not, so you win this round.
Related: Buying a Car? Here Are 5 Ways To Get the Best Deal.
The 360-degree exterior camera was kind of awesome and super-helpful for getting out of chaotic parking lots (Dodger Stadium, I'm looking at you.) I also really dug the adaptive cruise control, which speeds up and slows down depending on traffic conditions. (Did I mention there is a lot of traffic in the greater Los Angeles area? Because there is. A lot.)
The CX-50 was a lot peppier than I expected and I loved how it handled. And it also got much better gas mileage than I thought given the turbo. We only had to fill the tank once during the entire week of travel. Mazda reports 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway, and Car and Driver's 75-mph highway fuel economy test found it gets 28 mpg. In a state where $5.05 a gallon is considered a bargain, this is a very good thing.
If you are looking for a cool-looking, fun-to-drive compact crossover SUV that can haul more stuff than you'd imagine and is sleeker than you'd expect, the CX-50 is a winner. Zoom-zoom indeed.
2023 Mazda CX-50
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Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide. A person can check their vitamin D levels themselves with an at-home vitamin D test, and many of these tests are of the same quality as those that medical professionals use.
This article discusses how at-home vitamin D tests work, how reliable they are, and which products to consider. It also looks at when a person might consider getting medical advice on vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D tests involve taking a blood sample, determining the vitamin D levels in the bloodstream. This type of test may suit individuals with chronic conditions, such as asthma, psoriasis, or an autoimmune disease.
There are two forms of vitamin D in the blood: 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or calcidiol, and 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, or calcitriol. Tests will measure the amount of 25-hydroxy vitamin D in the blood. This is because 25-hydroxy vitamin D is a better indicator of a person’s vitamin D levels and stays in the bloodstream for longer, making it easier to detect.
If a person has a vitamin D test at a doctor’s office, the doctor will take a small blood demo from the arm using a needle. If a person takes a test at home, they will take a blood demo using a finger prick test.
Learn more about the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.
Samples from at-home tests go through the same lab processing as those from medical professionals in a doctor’s office or clinic. The validation process for at-home testing is the same as for traditional testing that takes place in a lab and clinic.
However, a person taking a test at home must follow all of the test manufacturer’s instructions to avoid invalidating the results.
A person can check whether the lab that processes their chosen test has accreditation from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and certification from the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). A person can also check if the lab’s manufacturing facilities have International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification.
Doctors may suggest taking a vitamin D test to monitor bone conditions, especially if a person has symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. These may include:
Further, people with a high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency may also consider buying a vitamin D test. This may include people who have:
A test measures the vitamin D levels in a blood sample. Here is how it works:
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
The following table compares the vitamin D tests in this article on price, turnaround time, and more.
There are some risks to getting vitamin D tests. The main risk is that a person may collect a demo incorrectly, leading to an invalid test result.
Test samples may get lost in the post, or, rarely, laboratories may mix up results. However, using tracked mail delivery services and laboratories that follow regulations will minimize these risks.
Additionally, people may bruise themselves when collecting a sample. People who do not feel confident collecting their own demo may wish to ask a friend or family member, or go to a healthcare professional to conduct the test.
Some things a person may consider when looking for an at-home test include:
People can receive vitamin D from sun exposure, supplements, and some types of food.
When a person is out in sunlight, UVB rays convert to vitamin D. This conversion only happens when a person is outside, as UVB rays cannot travel through glass. Additionally, the weather, time of day, and skin melanin content affect how much vitamin D a person gains through the sun.
This process generates the inactive form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D). The liver and kidneys then convert it into its active form, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D.
The inactive version of vitamin D, 25-OH D lasts around 14 days in the bloodstream. In contrast, the active version becomes undetectable within a few hours. This is why the majority of vitamin D tests measure the level of 25-OH D in the bloodstream.
Vitamin D from supplements is often in the form of lanolin from sheep or animal-free alternative lichen. While this vitamin is not plentiful in food, mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamin D through diet.
According to a 2022 overview of vitamin D deficiency, around 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency, and 50% of the global population has vitamin D insufficiency.
Although the article states that most people with a vitamin D deficiency will not experience symptoms, some people do.
Another important thing to consider is the source of vitamin D. The overview suggests people should spend 20 minutes a day in the sun. However, this also brings risks of premature aging and skin cancer.
A person should always use sunscreen when outside to protect the skin against the sun’s harmful effects.
Some people may be at a higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.
Symptoms that may indicate a vitamin D deficiency include:
People at risk of a vitamin D deficiency or with symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency may wish to consult a doctor for possible monitoring and further tests.
Below are some frequently asked questions about home vitamin D test kits:
The vitamin D test is a blood test that a person can get done at a doctor’s office or at home. It will determine the amount of vitamin D in the bloodstream. The best test to get is a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test because it is a good indicator of a person’s levels.
Many people will not experience symptoms from low vitamin D. However, some symptoms may develop due to secondary conditions that chronic or severe vitamin D deficiency causes. These conditions can include rickets, osteoporosis, and hyperparathyroidism.
For adults, the rough ranges of vitamin D are:
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), the range for children should be 50 nmol/l or over. Inadequate vitamin D would be 30–50 nmol/l, and a vitamin D deficiency would lie at under 30 nmol/l.
Doctors measure vitamin D deficiencies in nanomoles per liter (nmol/l) or nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). The current staging is as follows:
The body is able to make vitamin D naturally when a person exposes it to the sun. However, people who are older, live further north, or have a darker skin tone may not be able to create enough vitamin D.
Spending 20 minutes a day in the sun can help increase vitamin D levels. However, it is important to wear sunscreen to protect the skin against sun damage.
Vitamin D is essential for vital bodily functions, and low vitamin D levels can have widespread effects on the body.
Several at-home vitamin D tests are available online that provide people with a convenient and comfortable way to check their vitamin D levels.
People who experience symptoms of vitamin D deficiency or receive test results indicating they may be deficient in vitamin D can consider talking with a doctor for treatment advice.
LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - England beat Australia by 49 runs in the fifth and final Ashes test at The Oval on Monday, securing a 2-2 series draw with an afternoon of brilliant bowling including taking wickets in four consecutive overs.
Australia had already retained the coveted urn but narrowly missed out on claiming their first Ashes series win in England since 2001.
They won the first two tests but lost the third and had looked set to lose the fourth until two days of almost uninterrupted rain led to a draw.
The fifth test was finely poised going into the final afternoon, with Australia batting their way steadily past 250 as they chased a huge target of 384.
But after a lengthy rain delay England's bowlers came out and took the remaining seven wickets to claim the win.
Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Ken Ferris and John Mehaffey
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Retiring England bowler Stuart Broad took the last two Australian wickets to help England win the final Test.
England’s Stuart Broad has claimed the last two Australia wickets to secure a dramatic 49-run victory for his team in the final Ashes Test at The Oval cricket stadium and leave the series locked at 2-2 after five gripping matches.
Broad, playing his final Test, removed Todd Murphy and Alex Carey, both caught by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, to dismiss Australia for 334 and deny them their first Ashes win in England since 2001.
Australia, who won the first two Tests and had already retained the urn, moved to 238-3, chasing 384 to win before a two-hour rain delay halted their progress and England took the last seven wickets in just over two hours for the victory.
Chris Woakes was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-50, and Moeen Ali took three wickets before the 37-year-old Broad completed the job in a perfect swan song two days after announcing his retirement.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Broad told Sky Sports once the match was over.
“The crowd were unbelievable. It was so loud and we just jumped on the back of that. To contribute to the team with two wickets is very special.
“When you make that decision [to retire], you wonder what your last ball will be so to take a wicket to win an Ashes Test match is pretty cool,” he added.
Australia had started the day with high hopes of victory after Usman Khawaja and David Warner’s unbroken opening partnership of 135 on Sunday.
The pair looked to continue to bat with positive intent, but under grey skies, the ball moved around for the England bowlers from the start.
Warner, on 60, was beaten by a lifting delivery from Woakes and edged a catch to Bairstow before Woakes trapped Khawaja lbw for 72 in his next over, the batsman failing to overturn the decision on review.
Marnus Labuschagne struck two crisp fours to get to 13, but he nibbled at an outswinger from Mark Wood, and Zak Crawley took a good low catch at second slip.
Travis Head started unconvincingly, and Steve Smith was fortunate to survive after edging Moeen off his glove to Stokes, only for the England captain to lose control of the ball.
Australia reached lunch on 238-3, but rain delayed the restart. When the players returned, Smith and Head took their fourth-wicket partnership to 95, and the touring side looked well placed on 264-4.
The dismissal of Head for 43, however, sparked a collapse.
Carey and Murphy bravely added 35 before Murphy, on 18, edged Broad to Bairstow, and five runs later, the 37-year-old fast bowler produced another perfect outswinger to end Carey’s resistance for 28 and spark wild celebrations around the ground.
“We were going nicely there,” Mitchell Starc said.
“Credit to England, they put some good balls in the right areas, and we nicked them or weren’t good enough.
“This has been the closest, most exciting series I’ve been a part of,” he added.
“All the test matches have been really special. It’s the right result.”
Stokes said the series showed England had “walked the walk” after losing the first two Tests.
“It was a fair reflection of two good teams playing completely different styles of cricket. But each tried to play the cricket that brought the best out of them as a team,” Stokes told the BBC.
It also showed the team’s ability to fight their way back from a huge deficit, he said.
The test, called GEMINI (Genome-wide Mutational Incidence for Non-Invasive detection of cancer), looks for changes to DNA throughout the genome. First, a blood demo is collected from a person at risk for developing cancer. Then, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shed by tumors is extracted from the plasma and sequenced using cost-efficient whole genome sequencing. Single molecules of DNA are analyzed for sequence alterations and are used to obtain mutation profiles across the genome. Finally, a machine learning model trained to identify changes in cancer and non-cancer mutation frequencies in different regions of the genome is used to distinguish people who have cancer from those who do not have cancer. The classifier generates a score ranging from 0 to 1, with a higher score reflecting a higher probability of having cancer.
In a series of laboratory tests of GEMINI, investigators found that the approach, when followed by computerized tomography imaging, detected over 90% of lung cancers, including among patients with stage I and II disease. A description of the work, a proof-of-concept study, will be published online July 27 in the journal Nature Genetics.
“This study shows for the first time that a test like GEMINI, incorporating genome-wide mutation profiles from single molecules of cfDNA, in combination with other cancer detection approaches, may be used for early detection of cancers, as well as for monitoring patients during therapy,” says senior study author Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology and co-director of the cancer genetics and epigenetics program at the Kimmel Cancer Center.
The study mostly focused on detection of lung cancer in high-risk populations, says Daniel Bruhm, lead study author and graduate student in the human genetics program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “However, we detected altered mutational profiles in cfDNA from patients with other cancers, including liver cancer, melanoma or lymphoma, suggesting it may be used more broadly,” Bruhm says.
To develop GEMINI, investigators examined whole-genome sequences of cancers from 2,511 people across 25 different cancers from the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes study, identifying distinct mutation frequencies across the genome in different tumor types. For example, lung cancers were found to have an average of 52,209 somatic mutations per genome. The investigators also identified genomic regions with the highest number of mutations, finding that genome regions with a high frequency of mutations were similar between tumor tissue and blood-derived cfDNA from patients with lung cancer, melanoma or B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Researchers evaluated GEMINI's ability to detect sequence alterations in cfDNA from 365 people in a prospective observational cohort (LUCAS), including people at high risk of having lung cancer. GEMINI scores were higher in people with cancer than in those without cancer. Researchers also assessed whether GEMINI could be combined with DELFI (DNA evaluation of fragments for early interception) — a previously developed test that detects changes in the size and distribution of cfDNA fragments across the genome — to Excellerate detection of early-stage lung cancer. Several cancer samples that GEMINI missed were detected using the combined technique. In 89 samples from patients from the LUCAS cohort who had lung cancer, GEMINI combined with DELFI correctly detected cancers 91% of the time. Similar results were obtained in a separate validation cohort of 57 people who mostly had early-stage lung cancer.
The investigators also studied the use of GEMINI in other study samples, including seven patients who did not have any detectable tumors at the time of blood collection. They had a median GEMINI score of 0.78, which is higher than people without cancer. Six tested positive using GEMINI and were later diagnosed with lung cancer from 231 to 1,868 days after samples were obtained, suggesting that abnormalities in cfDNA mutation profiles can be detected years before standard diagnoses.
Additional experiments determined that GEMINI could distinguish between subtypes of lung cancers and could detect early liver cancers. In a group of patients receiving lung cancer drug treatment, GEMINI scores decreased during initial response to therapy, suggesting the testing could be used to monitor patients during therapy.
Together, the results indicate that the combination of genome-wide GEMINI mutation analyses and DELFI fragmentation analyses of cfDNA “may provide an opportunity for cost-efficient, scalable detection of cancers,” says Rob Scharpf, Ph.D., associate professor of oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center. Larger clinical trials are needed to validate the tool before it could become available for clinical use, he says.
Additional study co-authors include Dimitrios Mathios, Zachariah Foda, Akshaya Annapragada, Jamie Medina, Vilmos Adleff, Elaine Jiayuee Chiao, Leonardo Ferreira, Stephen Cristiano, James White, Amy Kim, Valsamo Anagnostou and Jillian Phallen of Johns Hopkins. Other authors are from Boston University and the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh.
The work was supported in part by the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, the Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) InTime Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team Grant, the SU2C-Dutch Cancer Society International Translational Cancer Research Dream Team Grant (SU2C-AACR-DT1415), the Gray Foundation, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, the Cole Foundation, a research grant from Delfi Diagnostics and U.S. National Institutes of Health grants CA121113, CA006973, CA233259, CA062924 and 1T32GM136577.
Bruhm, Mathios, Cristiano, Phallen, Scharpf and Velculescu are inventors on patent applications submitted by The Johns Hopkins University that are related to cfDNA use for cancer detection. Cristiano, Phallen, Adleff, Scharpf and Velculescu are founders of Delfi Diagnostics, and Adleff and Scharpf are consultants for this organization. Velculescu also serves on the board of directors and is an officer for Delfi Diagnostics, and he owns stock in the business. White is the founder and owner of Resphera Biosciences. Additionally, The Johns Hopkins University owns equity in Delfi Diagnostics. Velculescu is an inventor on patent applications submitted by Johns Hopkins related to cancer genomic analyses and cfDNA for cancer detection that have been licensed to various entities. Under these license agreements, the university and inventors are entitled to fees and royalty distributions. Velculescu is an adviser to Viron Therapeutics and Epitope. These arrangements have been reviewed and approved by The Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict-of-interest policies.