The health benefits of singing for cancer patients

Singing in a choir can boost the immune system and tackle stress, and could therefore be an important tool for cancer patients according to a new study published recently.

Researchers at the Welsh research charity Tenovus Cancer Care worked with the Royal College of Music and Imperial College to find that performing in a choir for just one hour can have a positive effect on a person’s health.

Dr Ian Lewis, director of research at the charity, said the study is the first time that singing has been proven to affect the immune system.

He explained: “Singing in a choir can have a range of social, emotional and psychological benefits, and now we can see it has biological effects too. It’s really exciting and could enhance the way we support people with cancer in the future.“

To make their findings, researchers took saliva samples from 193 singers from five different choirs who had been performing for an hour. All of the members had their lives affected by cancer, either by having the disease, caring for a patient, or losing a friend or relative. The team then tested the samples for the stress hormone cortisol and molecules, which help the body to fight series illness called cytokines.

Researchers found that the singers were more positive overall, but that those who had depression or other mental health conditions also experienced the greatest reductions of bodily inflammation after singing.

 

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