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Diabetes hormone link

LOW levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, more than doubles the risk of diabetes in women, a study has found.

Researchers made the connection after analysing data on 740 women with and without the disease. Melatonin, a popular remedy for jet lag, is best known for its role in helping to control the body's sleep-wake cycle. But it also has many other biological functions, including some linked to the blood sugar hormone insulin.

China bird flu deaths

CHINESE authorities reported four new cases of a strain of bird flu previously

unknown in humans that has already killed two people, taking the total of known cases to seven.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was no evidence that the H7N9 strain could be transmitted between people, but that it was investigating the outbreak.

Pope pays homage

Pope Francis has prayed before the tomb of Pope John Paul II on the eighth anniversary of the much-beloved pontiff's death.

In his three weeks as Pope, Francis has jolted the Catholic Church with several gestures that broke with tradition. The Vatican said his visit yesterday to St Peter's Basilica to pray before John Paul's tomb and those of Popes John XXIII and Pius X was evidence of his "profound spiritual continuity" with popes past.

Fears over Hamas law

THE head of a Palestinian women's group says a new law mandating separate classrooms for boys and girls from age nine is a worrisome sign that Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas ruler is gradually imposing their ultra-conservative practices.

A new education law adopted by the Gaza parliament also bars male teachers from teaching girls. Gaza women's activist Zeinab al-Ghnaimi said Hamas was "imposing facts on the ground", and fears the trend towards gender separation will accelerate.

Jacksons in lawsuit

Michael Jackson's family has launched a lawsuit against AEG Live, accusing the concert promoters of responsibility for the singer's death in 2009. Jackson died after he was administered an overdose of propofol by his doctor, Conrad Murray.

Jackson's mother, Katherine (82) claims AEG was negligent in hiring Murray. She and her family are seeking $40bn (€31bn). AEG, meanwhile, claims Jackson's drug abuse began long before he came into contact with Murray.

Irish Independent