Points for good behavior

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 20th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Sugar isn’t only tasty… it just might be good for you. At least if you eat it in the form of a pill, and at the proper dosage.

Canadian researchers say the well-known placebo effect carries over to people who take placebos as prescribed. That is, people often feel better when they think they are taking a helpful pill, even if it contains nothing but sugar. Time after time, researchers have found that people who take placebo pills do better than expected. Now researchers at Canada’s University of Alberta report that at least part of the placebo effect depends on how dedicated people are to taking their pills properly.

In general, about one in four people don’t stick to their prescribed drug regimen, a problem considered a barrier to successful treatment.

So researchers analyzed twenty-one clinical trials that involved about forty-seven-thousand people. Of those, twenty-thousand were given placebos instead of active drugs.

Those who took their pills the way they were supposed to were nearly half as likely to die as those who didn’t… regardless of whether they took active drugs or placebos.

The mind-body connection may be behind the healing effects, researchers say, because the healing aspect may be generated from patients feeling cared for and caring for themselves.

So when it comes to health, a positive frame of mind may provide points, in the form of powerful health benefits that medical professionals are still trying to sort out.