I was recently passed a clipping about a fascinating study being undertaken by Tenovus Cancer Care. They are a charity providing support to cancer patients and funding lots of different research.
One of their most recent studies involves the effects of choral singing on cancer patients. You will be unsurprised to find out that the results are extremely positive.
We certainly expect to see lowered levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) after singing, and this is an effect that has been seen and studied in choirs all over the world, along with improved moods and lessening of depression.
What wasn’t expected, but is very welcome indeed is the elevated levels in a range of biomarkers related to immune function and inflammatory response in the body, both of which may be linked to the body’s ability to fight serious illnesses including cancer.
It is early days yet, and more research is planned, but right now, it looks like the evidence is pointing towards singing being an effective way for cancer patients to improve their mood, bond socially with other people in the same situation and actively fight the disease. What’s not to like?
Anyone who sings with a choir will have noticed the effect on mood. I see it week after week, particularly in the choirs that I run immediately after a work day – people come in, tired and low after a long, hard day, but as soon as we start singing – and particularly when we nail a hard bit! – the mood lifts and lifts. By the end of 75 minutes of singing and laughing together, people leave with a smile on their faces, often singing as they go. I swear that the best sound in the world is the sound of people singing as they leave. They don’t *have* to be singing at this point, but are just enjoying it so much that they don’t want to stop. It’s a sign that the choir leader has done their job well, and that the singer is carrying that joy and music forward into the rest of their week. It’s the best thing in the world to know that 🙂
Singing is also a positive anti-depressant – so much so that many doctors are recommending patients start singing instead of increasing their reliance on drug-based solutions. The combination of lowered cortisol, and increased endorphin and oxytocin levels means that singers feel less stressed, and happier about their general situations.
With all of these health benefits – how can you resist joining a choir? Nobody is going to judge your voice, and you’ll make new friends as well as helping to keep your health in tip-top condition!
Oh, and you’ll sing some great songs, too – how great is that?