Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Seniors with memory problems may struggle with driving http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2475524 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2016/04/22/501184/a_strong_bond_between_seniors_and_their_dogs_boosts_health.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Seniors with memory problems and related attention and decision-making issues may struggle with driving tasks, according to a Canadian study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Not all patients with mild cognitive impairment, the early stage of memory loss, have issues with driving, the researchers write in the Journal of Alzheimer&rsquo;s Disease.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, patients with added impairments, such as difficulty with multi-tasking or making quick decisions, are particularly likely to have trouble with tasks like staying in lanes and making left turns in traffic, the researchers write.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Driving is a highly complex task that requires the integration of multiple cognitive functions, such as attention, memory, and visuospatial ability, all of which can be affected by mild cognitive impairment,&rdquo; said senior author Tom Schweizer, director of the neuroscience research program at St. Michael&rsquo;s Hospital in Toronto.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Despite this, there are no validated tools or guidelines to help assess the driving safety of patients with mild cognitive impairment,&rdquo; Schweizer told Reuters Health by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To study how mild cognitive impairment affects driving ability, Schweizer and colleagues recruited 24 patients with memory loss. They divided participants into two groups: one group with only memory problems, and another group with other cognitive problems too, such as issues with attention, reasoning/planning, or visual perception.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Twenty cognitively healthy participants in the same age range acted as a comparison group.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The participants underwent cognitive testing as well as a driving simulation that tested their ability to perform a range of tasks such as driving straight, making turns, and making left turns with oncoming traffic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Overall, patients with mild cognitive impairment committed more than twice as many driving errors as the cognitively healthy drivers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Memory impaired patients were more likely to cross the center line of the road and stray out of the legal driving lane than healthy drivers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They were also more likely to make mistakes turning left with oncoming traffic, but they had no issues with turning right, or turning left with no traffic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When researchers analyzed data on the two groups separately, however, they found that seniors with only memory issues were not more likely than healthy drivers to make errors.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Patients with multiple cognitive impairments, however, were at much greater risk of errors, including crossing the center line, missing stop signs, and straying out of the driving lane. These individuals were also much more likely to make errors during left turns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment alone &ldquo;does not mean that someone should stop driving, but it is important to monitor for declines,&rdquo; said Jennifer Davis, a clinical neuropsychologist at Rhode Island Hospital who studies cognitive issues and driving.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mild impairment is often a symptom of Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease and is likely to get worse over time, &ldquo;so it is also important to help patients and families identify when it might be time to stop driving,&rdquo; Davis, who was not involved in the study, noted by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Families are encouraged to monitor driving by riding with their family member as a passenger,&rdquo; Davis advised, adding, &ldquo;If concerns arise, be sure to see your doctor and consider taking a formal road test.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;These results highlight the importance of physicians talking to their patients about driving, even when cognitive deficits are very mild in nature,&rdquo; said Schweizer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>New tools are needed to help doctors better assess driving, he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 13:48:00 +0000 Reuters 2475524 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/22/501184/a_strong_bond_between_seniors_and_their_dogs_boosts_health.jpg Here’s a life-like robot you can chat with http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2475527 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2017/01/14/501184/heres_a_life-like_robot_you_can_chat_with.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>&ldquo;Jia Jia&rdquo; can hold a simple conversation and make specific facial expressions when asked, and her creator believes the eerily life-like robot heralds a future of cyborg labour in China.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Billed as China&rsquo;s first human-like robot, Jia Jia was first trotted out last year by a team of engineers at the University of Science and Technology of China.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Team leader Chen Xiaoping sounded like a proud father as he and his prototype appeared at an economic conference organised by banking giant UBS in Shanghai&rsquo;s futuristic financial centre.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chen predicted that perhaps within a decade artificially intelligent (AI) robots like Jia Jia will begin performing a range of menial tasks in Chinese restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals and households.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;In five to 10 years there will be a lot of applications for robots in China,&rdquo; Chen said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img src="http://www1.star2.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/doc6t56teohuv9pgt1w8ys.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 536px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With flowing black hair and dressed in a traditional Chinese dress, Jia Jia looks strikingly real. Yet her charm has its limits and simple questions frequently stump her.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Still, Chen said his team has made great progress over the past two years in developing her AI.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She was able accurately to answer a query about the day&rsquo;s weather, hold basic conversations and recognise the gender of her questioners.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;You are a handsome man,&rdquo; she complimented one, but when asked later if she has a boyfriend, replied, &ldquo;I prefer to stay single.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rapid advancements are being made in artificial intelligence and such products stole the limelight at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img src="http://www1.star2.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/doc6t56sif1grb1hd2dl8ys.jpg" style="height: 342px; width: 536px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A range of products were unveiled that can respond to voice commands to play music at home and follow other remote-control orders &ndash; or even think on their feet by accessing and &ldquo;learning&rdquo; from the Internet cloud.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One company, Hanson Robotics, unveiled its life-like Professor Einstein, which has realistic facial expressions and can engage in informative conversations such as lessons in math and science.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Jia Jia is not quite there yet, but Chen sees a bright future for her kind in China.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He said growing prosperity was causing many young Chinese to eschew jobs like waitressing, while an ageing population would require more hands on deck in hospitals and nursing homes &ndash; even if they aren&rsquo;t human hands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chen showed a video of a less life-like, but more functional, robot making and serving tea to team members at his university lab in the eastern province of Anhui.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chen, however, dismissed sci-fi fears of future robots getting too smart for our own good.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;As long as this is done in a step-by-step and controlled manner, I don&rsquo;t think there will be a big impact on society. It won&rsquo;t harm human beings,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 13:45:00 +0000 AFP 2475527 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2017/01/14/501184/heres_a_life-like_robot_you_can_chat_with.jpg Children born of mums who took antacids likely to show asthma symptoms http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2475516 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/04/15/501184/pregnancy.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Children of women who take heartburn medicine during pregnancy are a third more likely to develop asthma, according to a study published recently.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, it remains unclear whether the medication itself, or some other factor, is responsible for that increased risk, researchers reported in the Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This association does not prove that the medicines caused asthma in these children,&rdquo; said Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the study. &ldquo;Further research is needed to better understand this link,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Heartburn &ndash; discomfort caused by acid passing from the stomach up into the oesophagus &ndash; occurs frequently during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach from the expanding womb.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Certain drugs can block this acid reflux, and have long been thought not to affect the development of the baby.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Previous research had inconclusively pointed to an increased risk of allergies in offspring due to an impact on the immune system.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To dig deeper, scientists from Edinburgh and Finland reviewed eight previous studies involving more than 1.3 million children, drawing on healthcare registries and prescription databases.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They found that children born of mothers taking antacids were at least a third more likely to have visited a doctor for asthma symptoms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. It frequently starts in childhood. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 330 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with an especially high incidence in low and middle-income countries, according to The Global Asthma Report 2014.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Experts commenting on the study did not challenge the link between the heartburn drugs and asthma in kids, but cautioned against jumping to conclusions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It may be that the heartburn in itself may be the most important association rather than the drugs used to treat it,&rdquo; said Jean Golding, an emeritus professor of paediatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obesity in the expecting mother could also play a key role, said Seif Shaheen, a respiratory epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, noting that few of the studies took this factor into account.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 14 Jan 2017 11:05:00 +0000 AFP 2475516 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/15/501184/pregnancy.jpg Is Nutella a health concern? http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2475497 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2017/01/13/43/nutella.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Palm oil is considered royalty among vegetable fat because it makes food easy to spread. Derived from the fruits and kernels of palm plants, it is consumed worldwide in baked goods, convenience foods (including chips, snacks and frozen foods) and candy, usually as a vegetable oil, shortening or margarine additive.</p><div>It&#39;s been getting some attention from the highly popular hazelnut spread Nutella. The maker of the Italian confection is drawing focus to how it uses the product, which it says gives Nutella its creamy texture.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Palm oil is the best ingredient for &quot;guaranteeing its special spreadability and, above all, avoiding the hydrogenation process that would produce otherwise unhealthy trans fats,&quot; according to the Nutella website.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Its maker, Ferrero, launched an ad campaign in response to a ruling in May from the European Food Safety Authority (PDF) that palm oil is a &quot;potential health concern&quot; when improperly processed. The safety authority acts as a risk assessor in the European Union, producing scientific opinions and advice to guide European policies and legislation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last year, the safety authority delivered a scientific opinion that current levels of glycerol-based process contaminants found in palm oil are a &quot;potential health concern.&quot; Animal studies identified these contaminants, which are formed when vegetable oils are heated to high temperatures and then refined, as both genotoxic (damaging to DNA) and carcinogenic (causing cancer). Of all vegetable oils, palm oil was found to have the highest levels of these contaminants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At high levels of exposure, the contaminants are a health hazard for all age groups, the authority concluded, expressing particular concern for infants, toddlers and children under the age of 10.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Importantly, the &quot;EFSA statement was based on the existence of contaminants in palm oil, not the properties of palm oil itself,&quot; said Doug Boucher, an ecologist and scientific adviser for the Union of Concerned Scientists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This point is not lost on Ferrero. Its October ad campaign explains that the sustainable palm oil in its products is heated only to safe temperatures -- those that do not result in contaminants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Ferrero wants to assure its consumers that Nutella and other Ferrero products that contain palm oil are safe,&quot; Beth M. Kotran, general counsel for Ferrero U.S.A. Inc., wrote in an email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Is it safe?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Across the pond, the view of palm oil is far less heated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is no US ban in place regarding the use of palm oil in foods,&quot; said Megan McSeveney, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration. She explained that palm oil has a long history of use in food products worldwide and in the US specifically.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In one regulation, the FDA has designated the oil as &quot;generally recognized as safe.&quot; In a second regulation, the FDA authorizes its use as a cocoa butter substitute when processed under specific production and heating guidelines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Seemingly American in its attitude toward palm oil, Ferrero &quot;has been able to significantly reduce the levels of contaminants in its palm oil compared to conventional palm oils available on the market, similar to the levels found in other vegetable oils that have been processed properly, in line with EFSA&#39;s parameters,&quot; Kotran said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is due to careful harvesting, from the squeezing in the quickest possible time to the processes and manufacturing at the lowest</div><div>possible temperatures.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What else has palm oil?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The hazelnut spread is not the only product that has received negative publicity over palm oil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Girl Scout cookies came under fire several years ago after two scouts, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, set out to earn their Bronze Award, which requires&nbsp;</div><div>scouts to raise community awareness about an issue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Having learned that palm oil plantations destroyed the habitats of orangutans, the scouts began checking products for palm oil. They flipped over a box of Girl Scout cookies and discovered a disappointing item in the list of ingredients: palm oil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We were shocked, but as Girl Scouts ourselves, we felt it was absolutely necessary to bring this issue to the attention of the Girl Scouts of the USA and convince them to make their cookies rainforest-safe,&quot; the scouts wrote on their website, Project ORANGS.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Though not yet palm oil-free, Girl Scout cookies now contain as little palm oil as possible while its licensed bakers continue to search for viable alternatives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many other foods -- including Pop Tarts, Kit Kat candy bars, some Ben &amp; Jerry&#39;s ice creams, Cheerios, Nutri-Grain and some of Target&#39;s Archer Farms branded foods -- also contain palm oil. Kelloggs claims to use a small amount of palm oil globally and has been working since 2009 to responsibly source only sustainable palm oil (PDF).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2016, the biggest importers of palm oil were India, the European Union and China, which imported a combined 20 million metric tons, according to Amnesty International.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world&#39;s palm oil; other production nations include Thailand, Colombia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Ecuador, according to a report produced by Sime Darby (PDF), a Malaysia-based multinational corporation. The US Department of Agriculture (PDF) estimates that world palm oil production 2016-17 will total 64.5 million tons.</div> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:35:00 +0000 CNN 2475497 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2017/01/13/43/nutella.jpg