Doctors are being urged to prescribe “kindness” to patients as it can help reduce pain.
Carrying out good deeds can help cancer sufferers, a study found.
Researchers asked cancer patients to cook and clean for themselves and for other patients.
Peking University scientists in Beijing wrote: “Acting altruistically relieved not only acutely induced physical pain among healthy adults but also chronic pain among cancer patients.
“Our findings suggest that incurring personal costs to help others may buffer the performers from unpleasant conditions.”
The results showed that if the patients’ tasks helped other people it was more than twice as effective as painkillers.
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Healthy people who had been a good samaritan also felt less pain from electric shocks and needle pricks.
The scientists said kind acts “may supplement current therapies to treat pain”.
They also said doctors should consider prescribing altruism.
Kind acts may stimulate the release of endorphins – strong natural painkillers – in the body.
In one experiment people who donated cash to help orphans felt less pain when their hands were given an electric shock.
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