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Can music benefit cancer patients?

Look through my iPod and you’ll find playlists to fit just about every mood. When I want to unwind from a stressful day, one of the things I always find comfort in is music. And a new review from the Cochrane Collaboration supports the idea that music can be therapeutic, as researchers have found that listening to music can help improve the psychological and physical well-being of cancer patients.

Led by Joke Bradt, PhD, of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the study looked at 30 clinical trials involving patients who were enrolled in music therapy or who listened to music on their own. Researchers saw an overall reduction in anxiety and pain, and an improvement in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure in cancer patients.

In a piece on NPR’s Shots, Bradt explains why music has such a positive effect on cancer patients:

So many diagnoses of cancer, as well as the treatment, come with so much psychological stress….Just experiencing the real beauty of music can give people a sense of hope. It's like putting a blanket around somebody, but it's an auditory blanket.

Previously: Hospital music program helps soothe patients' "heavy hearts"
Photo by naturegeak

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