Music as a Treatment for Cancer?


Most of us have heard about using music as a way to calm the mind and relax the body. Indeed, many relaxing environments employ soothing new age music, familiar classical pieces, or somewhat corny smooth jazz tunes.

But an incredible new study is looking at how music may go even further as a remedy:

Music therapy for cancer sounds like the ultimate in New Age woo-woo. But a respected medical journal now says that listening music can indeed help relieve the suffering caused by cancer and cancer treatments.

The study, published by the Cochrane Collaboration, looked at 30 clinical trials of music therapy, both those led by trained music therapists and ones where patients listened to recorded music on their own. Both methods were found to reduce anxiety and pain, and to improve mood and quality of life for cancer patients.

That said, the researchers are quick to point out the limitation of the study and its implications for music. It’s important to keep in mind that research can only point to a set of findings within a given and defined variables. It is easy to generalize findings based on a soundbyte from the media or a scientific paper.

Music may also improve heart rate, breathing and blood pressure in cancer patients, the review says. But the effects were slight, and the potential bias in the trials was high, so don’t presume that Kanye or The Rolling Stones are a panacea. There also weren’t enough trials, or enough patients, to tell if having a trained music therapist was better than just listening to music.

Music may be a simple and relatively easy way to bring a little more comfort and joy to a loved one.


2 Responses to Music as a Treatment for Cancer?

  1. Nature Sound Man August 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Nice article!I read about a story at the BBC website that music and/or relaxing sounds was a great treatment for chronic pain , also. The human mind can work its own miracles.

    • Colin Cronin August 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. It truly is fascinating how music is being applied. What’s ironic is that many cultures have been using these applications for years without the scientific background. I think for people in today’s world it helps to have the credibility of this type of research. I checked out your website as well. Do you incorporate music into your sounds and effects to help people relax?

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