The history of placebos and the placebo effect spans thousands of years. We wrote about them recently. CBS News' 60 Minutes recently ran an fascinating story about placebo effects in the treatment of depression. The bottom line is that placebos offer important benefits to patients with depression, especially mild to moderate depression. There have been many placebo-controlled studies in cancer. Tumor responses are very rare and aren't fully understood. Sometimes they may represent an immune system effect. Improvement in symptoms is more common and may represent an effect of the mind-body connection. The video program is worth a look and, like all 60 Minutes pieces, not without controversy.
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(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker