Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
I'm not a big fan of massages. As a neurosurgeon, I've never been completely convinced that the science behind them is all that sound. Yet there's no denying that they're popular — particularly among baby boomers and others who try to get active and stay fit with bodies that seem to grow achier all the time. But increasingly, research is showing that all those boomers may be onto something — that there are solid reasons for just about everyone to consider getting a good rubdown.
Investigators at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine recently took a close look at the effect of massage on a very specific group of people who might be most in need of pampering: cancer patients. In a study of 380 adults with advanced-stage cancer and at least moderate pain, the researchers found that those who received massage therapy had greater improvement in pain and mood than patients who were touched in a manner similar to massage but without the precise motion and pressure a trained therapist uses.
For these patients, even a little relief can mean a lot. Generally, about a third of cancer patients experience significant pain. As for mood, according to the National Cancer Institute, 15% to 25% of cancer patients become clinically depressed at some point during their illness. And the very nature of treatment for a serious illness often makes things worse.
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