From an article by Adrian North and David Hargreaves:
Arguably the largest single body of literature concerns the impact of music on chronic pain, pain experienced during and after treatment, and pain experienced specifically by cancer patients and those undergoing palliative care (e.g. MacDonald et al., 2003; Mitchell et al., 2006). Research suggests that music can mediate pain [emphasis added] in these cases by distracting the patient’s attention from it and/or by increasing their perceived control over the pain (since if patients believe that they have access to music as a means of pain control, then this belief itself decreases the aversiveness of pain). Similar research on stress has yielded the not entirely unsurprising conclusion that it may be reduced by music [emphasis added]; but also that the amount of stress reduction varies according to age, the stressor, the listener’s musical preference, and their prior level of musical experience (e.g. Pelletier, 2004). More interestingly still, this reduction in stress manifests itself through physical measures, such as reduced levels of cortisol, and this has a very provocative further implication. Lower levels of stress are associated with greater immunity to illness of course, and several studies have indicated effects of music listening on physical measures of immune system strength [emphasis added], such as salivary immunoglobulin A (e.g. Brennan & Charnetski, 2000). Although the mechanism by which this occurs is not well understood, the implication is clear: music contributes directly to physical health [emphasis added].
I’ve long said that we all know that what we put into our bodies affects our health. So we pay attention to our diets,and some of us go farther and pay attention to what we absorb through our skin. But here we see that what goes into our bodies through our ears is just as important! So if your New Year’s resolution is to improve your health, classical music might be the place to start.