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Health: News In Brief

Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK

Doctors investigate 'bowel cancer gene'

A defective gene could be critical in determining a person's chances of contracting bowel cancer, scientists have said.

They are investigating whether it interacts with diet to increase the risk of the disease.

Variations in the gene - called mEPHX - appear to affect how quickly the body can break down toxic substances in the diet.

Dr Harry Campbell, who leads the Edinburgh University research team, said: "It's still unclear exactly how our diet affects the cells lining the bowel.

"However, we suspect that the degree to which these factors can lead to the development of diseases like bowl cancer may well depend on the genes we are born with."

Doctors study music's healing powers

Doctors are to study the powers of traditional "healing" music from India.

GPs in the North-east have won a 4,300 grant to test their belief that playing and listening to classical Indian music can improve health.

Dr Anand and Dr Anthea Jackson - who are husband and wife - will tour India and hone their skills at singing and playing the tampura, a four-stringed lute, under the supervision of gurus at six centres.

They intend to perform concerts and run school workshops across the North-east on their return.

Power for arthritis sufferers

A charity has launched a campaign to raise the profile of the UK's eight million arthritis sufferers.

Arthritis Care starts the campaign with a new slogan - "Empowering People with Arthritis" - which will appear on a new-style London bus with easier access for disabled people.

Tracy Dawson, widow of comedian Les, DJ Terry Wogan and cook Jane Asher ar supporting the campaign.

A spokesman for the charity said: "We want people to take a fresh look at arthritis and see it like it really is.

"We want to get away from the stereotypical view that it's the Granny disease - an almost inevitable part of the aging process."

Dobson axes short-term NHS contracts

Health Secretary Frank Dobson has called for an end to the systematic use of staff on short-term contracts in the NHS.

Addressing the Unison conference in Brighton, Mr Dobson said short-term contracts could still be used to provide cover for staff on maternity leave, long-term sickness absences and long-training courses.

But he said they could no longer be used to provide core staffing needs.

He said: "Over the years, partly encouraged by the internal market and partly by uncertainty about NHS funding, short-term contracts have become commonplace.

"The new government has abolished the internal market . . . so it's time to get rid of short term contracts."

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