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Breastfeeding keeps arthritis at bay

Women who breast-feed have a lower risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis, researchers say. And the longer they nurse their babies, the smaller the risk becomes. The findings came out of a study, which has followed the health of more than 120,000 women since 1976. The investigation by the Brigham and Women's Hospital appears in Arthritis & Rheumatism. Rheumatoid arthritis, which can destroy the joints, affects women much more often than it does men. The prevalent notion is that male hormones hold the disease in check. Theoretically, breast-feeding should increase the risk for the illness because nursing raises the hormone prolactin, supposedly a cancer-trigger. The new finding, however, shows the opposite.

Excess vitamin E is bad

Taking high doses of vitamin E may increase a person's overall risk of dying in any given year, according to a new analysis reported in the New Scientist. US researchers say the finding suggests people should stop taking high doses of the popular supplement. Earlier studies suggested vitamin E, an antioxidant, had either no effect on mortality rates or lowered the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. And unlike some other antioxidants, such as vitamin A, vitamin E does not accumulate in the body, potentially becoming toxic. Researchers now believe the vitamin to be a turncoat, damaging the very proteins and fats it's believed to protect in a high dose.

Drops can correct a lazy eye

Parents of children with a 'lazy eye' (which may cause vision loss) sometimes decide to use eye drops rather than wrestle over the need to wear a patch to correct the problem. But that, too, can be a daily struggle. Now researchers have found that the drops work even if they are given only on the weekends. The standard way to treat the problem is to have the child wear a patch over the good eye for a period of time each day, forcing the other eye to become stronger. But many children resist the patch, leading some parents to try atrophine, an eye drop that temporarily blurs the healthy eye, again forcing the weak one to grow stronger. Dr Mich-ael Repka, a paediatric ophthalmologist at the Johns Hopkins, found that children given atropine on Saturdays and Sundays did the same as those given the drops daily.

Single mothers skew sex ratio

Women who conceive while living with a partner are more likely to give birth to a boy than who become pregnant while living alone, a study of 90,000 births in Cambridge in the US suggests. On an average, about 51 per cent of the new-borns are boys, but this rate is falling in the developed world where more women are becoming single mothers.

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