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Nov 20, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- 'SMART HOME' HELPS ELDERLY STAY INDEPENDENT

Elderly people facing the prospect of joining a nursing home or an assisted living community soon may have another option -- a "smart home." Computer engineers at the University of Florida are developing a house with a centralized computer system that coordinates an arsenal of automated assistance for older people when everyday tasks become difficult. Future residents of the experimental living unit will be able to communicate with their house via cell phone: turning on lights, locking doors, checking security and making pasta dinners. If, for example, the faucet is leaking, the house will call its occupant. "What this home demonstrates is the evolution from assistive devices to assistive environments," said computer and information scientist Sumi Helal.


People living in areas with high levels of air pollution are more than twice as likely to die if they contract SARS, researchers say. Curious as to why death tolls among patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome are higher in northern China, researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Health, the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Fudan University in China found pollution is a strong determining factor for risk of death. Among the 5,327 cases of SARS diagnosed in mainland China since November 2002, mortality rates increased as pollution rates increased. In regions with low air pollution, the death rate was 4.08 percent, whereas in areas with moderate or high air pollution, death rates were 7.49 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. The study did not look at socioeconomic factors or smoking.


High-dose retinoic acid, a vitamin A derivative, can prevent new head and neck cancers in patients, a University of Texas study finds. In patients initially cured by surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of the two, high doses of retinoids can prevent tumor re-growth, said Dr. Waun Ki Hong. He and his colleagues were among the early pioneers who showed proof of chemoprevention -- the principle that a drug can be used to prevent cancer before it has a chance to begin. Retinoids can suppress or reverse pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth and can also thwart the development of new tumors.


(Editors: For more information on SMART HOME contact Sumi Helal at (321) 228-2030 or For SARS contact Sarah Anderson at (310) 267-0440 or For VITAMIN A contact Elizabeth Tait at (215) 440-9300 ext.144 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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