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Psychedelic Mushrooms Relieve Cancer Patients' Anguish

Breakthrough new studies could mark a "paradigm shift" in treating patients' depression and anxiety, one researcher says.
Psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin mushrooms.

Photographer: Roger Cremers/Bloomberg

Cancer patients experience immediate, significant, and long-lasting relief from their existential anxiety and depression when they're treated with psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, two breakthrough studies published Thursday have found.

For some patients with advanced cancer, the shock of illness and the accompanying end-of-life dread can lead to hopelessness, demoralization, even suicide. As many as 40 percent of such patients experience anxiety or depression, and antidepressants work only about as well as placebo treatments.