Could Mozart Lower Your Colon Cancer Risk?

Doctors were more likely to detect precancerous polyps during colonoscopies if they had Mozart playing in the background, a small study found.

It only included two doctors, but for one, listening to Mozart more than tripled the polyp detection rate from 21.25 percent to 66.7 percent, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston reported today at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting. Undetected, the polyps — called adenomas — can become cancerous.

“Anything we can do get those rates up has the potential to save lives,” study author Dr. Catherine Noelle O’Shea said in a statement. “While this is a small study, the results highlight how thinking outside the box — in this case using Mozart — to improve adenoma detection rates can potentially prove valuable to physicians and patients.”

The polyp detection rate for the other doctor studies rose from 27.16 percent to 36.7 percent.

The study adds weight to the “ Mozart effect” — the long-standing observation that listening to music can lead to a short-term improvement on some mental tasks. Some experts attribute the performance boost to a more positive mood or increased arousal. Others say complex music triggers a response in the brain that makes it better equipped to tackle an additional task.

Untreated, adenomas can lead to invasive colorectal cancer — the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer death in both sexes combined, according to the American Cancer Society. But when detected early, adenomas can be removed.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy in men and women aged 50 to 75.

To reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle, eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetable and grain and low in red meats, and drinking alcohol in moderation.