My grandmother had breast cancer and we would use music sometimes to calm her down when she would get upset. Did music really have this effect? Could it cause a person to act or feel a certain way toward it? Does it make that person have a strong feeling toward anything?

Can music help someone with cancer? Credit:

According to Joke Bradt, Ph.D., an associate professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, PA, listening to music, singing, even playing musical instrument can lessen anxiety in cancer patients and improve their overall quality of life. She believes that music can bring renewed hope to those who have lost it and energize one as well. According to an article on, she also says, “Singing and playing music can also be empowering for patients who feel victimized by cancer.

Bradt also said she wasn`t sure which music intervention was the most successful, but she does believe that when you listen to the particular music you like and music that you participate in making it seems to have an better effect on your anxiety levels. She says that the music therapy works better if you listen to the music that you want to hear. She says that you can’t prescribe it like it is medicine for a headache..

To reach these conclusions, Bradt systematically reviewed 30 studies that included 1,891 adults and children with cancer. The results were published August, 2011, in the Cochrane Library. Thirteen trials used trained music therapists, while in the remaining 17 trials listened to pre-recorded music. All of the studies included a control group that received standard cancer treatment.

Overall, those who listened to the prerecorded music and those who listened to the live music had lower anxiety levels and an improved view on life as measured using questionnaires than the standard treatments. In some studies, music therapy also improved pain and mood, as well as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. However, depression levels did not improve.

Bradt isn`t the only one to recognize the positive influences of music. Miklos Auber, M.D., and Howard Emerson, a certified music practitioner, both with West Virginia University, have done studies with music and its effect on cancer patients. Hospitals have been using music -based therapies to ease the symptoms associated with the chronic, painful, and emotionally distressing diseases like cancer. For example, the harp has a calming effect on patients going through chemotherapy, making them less anxious about their disease. Both men say by playing harp music while going through chemo helps pain tolerance, and lessen nausea.

According to, Robert Zatorre, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, who studies the effect of music on the brain, says that musical qualities like tempo and volume will also likely impact a patient's mood and stress levels. This means that the lower or louder the music can also affect a patient’s mood. He says music has had influence on the brain starting all the way back to the lullabies to babies that are a gentle and soothing tempo, making the baby calm down and go to sleep.

Related stories:Love May Actually Heal AllThe Mind-Music Connection

Zatorre says that this would be a good alternative to drugs and other treatments that doctors use today. He says that this has minimum side effects and the worst that could happen is that you don’t like it and turn it off. Steven Whitehorn

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  1. I didnt know music could do that much. Yes i knew that it calms people down but i didnt know it could improve and change peoples perspective or completetly change their attitude. This may be some useful information.

  2. I find this article to be very interesting. For one, i know how to play the harp, and to know that it helps sooth people is a wonderful feeling. Also, i didnt know music could work that way. Its pretty neat. I think people should listen to music whether if you have cancer or not.

  3. I find that this artice is very interesting, and really catches my mind that music has such an affect on people. I never knew that certain things such as music can help. I wonder if different types of genres affect this too. awesome information!