The Science

At the end of the five-week period, blood tests indicated an 11% increase in the number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells among the participants who received massage therapy. These participants also reported being less depressed, less anxious and less angry, as well as having more vigor than the control group according to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical Centre.

One of the three ongoing studies with women who have stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer has already shown massage producing a reduction of anxiety and an increase in natural killer cell numbers. Fifty-eight breast cancer patients from the Miami area participated in the study. Participants, who were in the early stages of cancer, received 20-minute massage therapy twice a week for five weeks; others in a control group received no massage therapy.

People living with cancer report that weekly massage improves their quality of life. They have more energy, are better able to perform daily activities, and have less psychological distress according to the Oncology Center of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Massage intervention for men with HIV showed a significant decrease in their anxiety, a significant increase in relaxation, a significant increase in natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, a significant increase in cytotoxic T-cells, and a significant decrease in urinary cortisol, according to the International Journal of Neuroscience.

There are many ways to calm a person, many healing and medical treatments that can reduce stress, reduce sensory overload, slow the heart and help a person center. The most beautiful forms of touch possible are actually healing techniques and this is what professional massage therapists’ true aim is, to heal through touch. Many studies have demonstrated that for all mammals, receiving touch that is pleasurable, safe and appropriate reduces sickness, depression and aggressive behaviors. Thus massage has its application in both therapy and medicine.