Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics may help women deal with cancer-related anxiety and depression, according to academics.
Conventional therapies to help women cope with their diagnosis and treatment can take too long, they said, as they announced the launch of a new study to examine how the drugs could help patients.
Those diagnosed with gynaecological cancers can face “various physical and psychological challenges”, particularly for those diagnosed at a late stage or are suffering from chronic side effects of treatment, according to an article published in the International Journal of Gynaecological Cancer.
Up to a quarter of ovarian cancer patients report depression, anxiety, and death anxiety, they said.
The authors, from the University of Texas, highlight a case of a mother of two children who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.
“Her fear of the future was real and overwhelming,” they said.
They argue that the current gold standard psychological support to address distress in cancer patients is cognitive behavioural therapy which requires a “time commitment” as well as stamina.
“(Our patient) does not have the time or stamina for that kind of work,” they said.
The authors said that psychedelic drugs, specifically magic mushrooms (psilocybin), have shown “promise” in treating various psychological problems.
They said that these drugs “modulate brain activity” and have been linked with “therapeutic effects”.
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Previous work suggests that the psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy can give “lasting benefits” from just one or two sessions, they added.
“Considering the prevalence of existential distress among ovarian and other gynaecological cancer patients and the potential benefits and safety of psychedelics, there is a clear need for more well-designed protocols prioritising safety and exploring psilocybin, and other psychedelics, in this vulnerable population,” they wrote.
The University of Texas is to conduct a study next year examining the effects of magic mushrooms for women with advanced cancer who are suffering from mental health problems.