"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,” said study co-author Ian Lewis from Tenovus Cancer Care in Britain.
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"This is the first time it's been demonstrated that the immune system can be affected by singing. It's really exciting and could enhance the way we support people with cancer in the future," Lewis added in the paper published in the journal ecancermedicalscience.
Many people affected by cancer can experience psychological difficulties such as stress, anxiety and depression.
The study tested 193 members of five different choirs and found that those 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.
Choir members gave samples of their saliva before an hour of singing, and then again just after, which were analysed to see what changes occurred in a number of hormones, immune proteins, neuropeptides and receptors.
The results demonstrated that these can suppress immune activity, at a time when patients need as much support as they can get from their immune system.
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The findings suggested that singing activity could reduce some of this stress-induced suppression, helping to improve wellbeing and quality of life amongst patients and put them in the best position to receive treatment.