Choral singing benefits cancer patients4:01, 6th April 2016
A new study has found that singing in a choir for one hour can boost levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer.
The research, conducted by Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music, concluded that singing can reduce stress and improve mood, positively impacting one’s overall health.
The findings suggest that singing in a choir could help to put individuals in the best possible position to receive treatment and stay in remission.
The study, which followed 193 members of five different choirs, found that participants with the lowest levels of mental wellbeing and highest levels of depression experienced greatest mood improvement, associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body.
‘Many people affected by cancer can experience psychological difficulties such as stress, anxiety and depression,’ said Dr Daisy Fancourt, co-author of the research and research associate at the Centre for Performance Science, a partnership between the RCM and Imperial College London.
‘Research has demonstrated that these can suppress immune activity at a time when patients need as much support as they can get from their immune system. An activity as simple as singing could reduce some of this stress-induced suppression, helping to improve wellbeing and quality of life amongst patients.’
Participant Diane Raybould said that ‘[choral] singing is about more than just enjoyment – it genuinely makes you feel better. Having cancer and losing someone to cancer can be very isolating. With the choir, you can share experiences openly and that is hugely important.’
Tenovus Cancer Care is now launching a two-year study to examine the longitudinal effect of choral singing over several months. It will look at mental health, wellbeing, social support and ability to cope with cancer, measuring stress hormones and immune function among patients, carers, staff and those who have lost loved ones to cancer.