Noto w it’s time ignore the warnings: Even just reading the side-effects listed on a pill bottle can increase your risk of experiencing them
The warnings themselves might actually be making you sick, scientists say.
A series of studies from around the world has shown that if you believe something could make you ill, it might well do just that.
Simply reading the side-effects on a bottle of tablets raises your risk of experiencing them.
And, taken to its extreme, patients who believe they will not survive surgery, are more likely to die on the operating table.
Just as positive thinking can be good for your health, negative thoughts can be bad for well-being.
‘The idea that believing you are ill can make you ill sounds far-fetched, yet rigorous trials have established beyond a doubt that the converse is true – the power of suggestion can improve health,’ reports New Scientist magazine
‘The placebo effect has an evil twin: the nocebo effect, in which dummy pills and negative expectations can produce harmful effects.’ Examples included clinical trials for new drugs, in which up to a quarter of patients given dummy versions experienced the side-effects associated with the real thing.
In trials for blood pressure-lowering beta blockers, tiredness and loss of libido were just as common in those given dummy versions.
And more than half of chemotherapy patients start experiencing the nausea ‘A self-fulfilling prophecy‘ associated with the cancer treatment days before it started. The phenomenon raises the prospect that just telling a patient about the side effects associated with their pills, could make their health worse.
Hull University psychologist Professor Giuliana Mazzoni said: ‘On the one hand, people have the right to be informed about what to expect but this makes it more likely they will experience side-effects.’
Research has shown that women who believe they are particularly prone to heart attack are nearly four times as likely to die from coronary conditions than other women.
The power of suggestion can also be responsible for mass outbreaks of ‘ disease‘. In 1988, a high school teacher, in Tennessee in the U.S, noticed a petrollike smell and began to complain of headache, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness.
The school was evacuated and over the next week, more than 100 staff and students were admitted to casualty complaining of similar symptoms.
Extensive tests could find no medical explanation for their problems.
Dr Clifton Meador, of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville in the U.S, said fear can turn into self-fulfilling prophecy.
‘Bad news promotes bad physiology. I think that you can persuade people that they’re going to die and have it happen. I don’t think there is anything mystical about it. We’re uncomfortable with the idea that words or symbolic actions can cause death because it changes our biomolecular model of the world.’
Sources:Mail Online. 14th.May,’09