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Music Demonstrated to Alleviate Cancer Patients’ Symptoms

Frank Otto wrote . . . . . .

We’ve all heard of laughter being the best medicine, but what about music?

A systematic review published by the Cochrane Library found that there is significant evidence that music interventions help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, pain and fatigue in cancer patients, while also boosting their quality of life.

Led by Joke Bradt, PhD, associate professor in Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, a team looked into studies that examined the impact of music therapy (a personalized music experience offered by trained music therapists) and music medicine (listening to pre-recorded music provided by a doctor or nurse) on psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer.

“We found that music therapy interventions specifically help improve patients’ quality of life,” explained Bradt. “These are important findings as these outcomes play an important role in patients’ overall well-being.”

A total of 52 trials were examined in the review, constituting of 3,731 participants with cancer. Twenty-three of the trials were categorized as music therapy and the remaining 29 were classified as music medicine interventions.

Overall, one of the most impactful findings was that music interventions of all kinds resulted in a moderate-to-strong effect in reducing patients’ anxiety.

When it came to pain reduction, the researchers found a large treatment benefit; for fatigue, a small-to-moderate treatment effect was found.

Small reductions in heart and respiratory rates, as well as lowered blood pressure, were also linked to music interventions.

“The results of single studies suggest that music listening may reduce the need for anesthetics and analgesics, as well as decreased recovery time and duration of hospitalization, but more research is needed for these outcomes,” according to Bradt and her co-authors.

When comparing music therapy to music medicine, the team saw a moderate increase in patients’ quality of life when music therapy was applied. There was not a similar effect in the case of music medicine interventions.

“Both music medicine and music therapy interventions play an important role in cancer care but we didn’t quite know yet which interventions may be best suited for which type of outcome,” Bradt said.

In light of the benefits to cancer patients’ quality of life, and specifically their levels of anxiety, pain and fatigue, the researchers hope music interventions will become more widespread.

“We hope that the findings of this review will encourage health care providers in medical settings to seriously consider the use of music therapy in the psychosocial care of people with cancer,” Bradt said.


Music Therapy – Patients involved interactive music making with a music therapist.

Music Medicine – Patients listened to pre-recorded music without the presence of a therapist.

Source: Drexel University

Modern Japanese-style Zucchini and Beef Salad


4 small yellow and green zucchinis, washed thoroughly
4 cups water
1 heaped tablespoon natural sea salt
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
10 oz beef tenderloin (one piece)
pinch natural sea salt
pinch cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cognac
1 tablespoon butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons Japanese soy sauce
1/4 lemon


  1. Peel and halve the zucchinis lengthwise, then remove the seeds and slice lengthwise into long, pasta-like 1/4-inch square strips.
  2. Bring the water and salt to a boil and blanch the zucchini for 10 seconds. Drain in a colander and toss in a bowl with olive oil while it is still piping hot.
  3. Cut the beef into roughly 2-inch widths, then cut in very thin slices, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet and briefly saute the beef slices, then flambe with cognac and add the butter.
  5. Arrange the zucchini strips on a platter and top with beef slices. Mix the remaining meat juices in the pan with soy sauce and pour the hot dressing on top. Serve with the lemon wedge.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Shunju New Japanese Cuisine

In Pictures: Restaurant Joël Robuchon, Singapore

French Cusine of the One and Only Michelin 3-star Restaurant in Singapore

The Restaurant

High and Low Levels of ‘Good Cholesterol’ May Cause Premature Death

Commonly touted as “good cholesterol” for helping to reduce risk of stroke and heart attack, both high and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol may increase a person’s risk of premature death, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System.

Conversely, intermediate HDL cholesterol levels may increase longevity, according to the research.

The large-scale epidemiological study was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“The findings surprised us,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University and the study’s senior author. “Previously it was thought that raised levels of the good cholesterol were beneficial. The relationship between increased levels of HDL cholesterol and early death is unexpected and not fully clear yet. This will require further study.”

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood that can narrow and block heart vessels, causing cardiovascular disease and stroke. For years, HDL cholesterol has been credited with helping to remove plaque-building “bad cholesterol” from arteries.

For this study, researchers studied kidney function and HDL cholesterol levels in more than 1.7 million male veterans from October 2003 through September 2004. Researchers then followed participants until September 2013.

Patients with kidney disease frequently have lower levels of HDL cholesterol, which might explain their increased risk of early death; however, the association between elevated HDL cholesterol levels and premature death in these patients has been unclear. In the current study, the researchers showed that both high and low HDL cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of dying among study participants with all levels of kidney function.

“The findings may explain why clinical trials aimed at increasing HDL cholesterol levels failed to show improved outcomes,” said Al-Aly, who also is the VA’s associate chief of staff for research and education and co-director of the VA’s Clinical Epidemiology Center in St. Louis.

Such findings regarding HDL cholesterol and premature death have not been reported in other large epidemiologic studies that have advanced understanding of the relationship between cholesterol parameters and clinical outcomes, Al-Aly said.

“However, the previous studies are limited in that the number of patients in those cohorts is relatively small compared with what a big data approach enabled us to see in our new research,” he said. “Big data allow a more nuanced examination of the relationship between HDL cholesterol and risk of death across the full spectrum of HDL cholesterol levels.”

Research data showed a relationship between HDL cholesterol levels and mortality as a U-shaped curve with the risk of death increased at both ends of the spectrum. “Too low and too high are both associated with higher risk of death,” Al-Aly said.

Whether maintaining intermediate HDL cholesterol levels may increase longevity will need to be explored in future studies, Al-Aly said.

“A large database is critical in allowing us to research and challenge prior knowledge in our continuing efforts to create a better understanding of HDL cholesterol levels and risk of death,” he said.

Source: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

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