Singing helps the body fight cancer, study suggests
They say laughter is the best medicine – but maybe it's song.
A study conducted by Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music – published in the journal ecancermedicalscience – found that singing in a choir, even if for just an hour, boosted cancer patients' levels of immunity-related proteins, lowered stress and improved participants' mood.
For the study, 193 members across five different choirs gave samples of their saliva before and after an hour of singing. Researchers then analyzed these samples and found that singing for an hour was associated with reductions in the stress hormone cortisol and increases in immune-related proteins. Participants also were given questionnaires to help measure their well-being.
Additionally, researchers found that those who reported being most depressed experienced the greatest mood improvement after singing.
"These are really exciting findings," Dr. Ian Lewis, director of research and policy at Tenovus Cancer Care and co-author of the research, said in a press release. "We have been building a body of evidence over the past six years to show that singing in a choir can have a range of social, emotional and psychological benefits, and now we can see it has biological effects too."
"I've seen peoples' lives transformed through singing in our choirs so knowing that singing also makes a biological difference will hopefully help us to reach more people with the message that singing is great for you – mind, body and soul," added Rosie Dow, head of the Sing with Us choir program at Tenovus Cancer Care and co-author of the study.
As a result of the research, Tenovus Cancer Care is launching a two-year study exploring the mental, social, and biological benefits of choir singing as it relates to people coping with the repercussions of cancer – patients and their loved ones alike.
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