One of the most ubiquitous lines from Star Wars references sensing a disturbance in the Force, a spiritual aura that the Jedi and their Sith opponents draw their abilities from. Composer John Williams has been at the helm for all seven installations of Star Wars, and the music from the epic space opera could serve as a way to detect and even treat cancer.
Doctors Zaid SM Ardalan, Simon Hew, Steve Lontos, Julien Schulberg and Abhinav Vasudevan, who are also avid fans of the movie series, theorized that the anthemic score of Star Wars might prove fruitful if played during medical procedures. “We hypothesized that Star Wars music (SWM) would be superior to endoscopist-selected popular music (PM) when measuring quality outcomes in colonoscopy,” said the authors of the study. The study was called “The Value of Audio Devices in the Endoscopy Room,” or VADER, and it was published in The Medical Journal of Australia on Dec. 14, just a few days before The Force Awakens hit theaters. “The Padawans were supervised by a Jedi Master endoscopist for each procedure and advised to use the Force, and not force, during the colonoscopy.”
The end results favored the Star Wars score. The SWM group of surgeons was able to not only detect polyps (an abnormal growth of tissue projecting from a mucous membrane) and adenomas (a benign tumor formed from glandular structures in epithelial tissue) faster, but also remove them more quickly than their PM counterparts. This raises the question: could the Force be with them, or is it all just a coincidence?
“Higher polyp detection rate (which is defined as the number of colonoscopies in which one or more polyps were removed divided by the total number of colonoscopies performed, or PDRs) and adenoma detection rate (the number of colonoscopies in which one or more adenomas were removed divided by the total number of colonoscopies, or ADRs) were achieved in the SWM group compared with the PM group, despite a similar procedure time and a lower rate of optimal bowel preparation,” the group said.
However, the doctors were quick to point out that correlation does not necessarily mean causation; a very common logical fallacy that many people are quick to use. “Proceduralist-selected music, which was used in both groups of our study, has been found to induce neurohormonal and immune system changes that lead to improved procedural performance; however, this does not explain the differences observed between the groups.”
“It is unclear from this study if the improved endoscopic outcomes are specific to SWM or can be generalized to other epic movie soundtracks. A future study could, for example, assess the impact of music from the Lord of the Rings on endoscopic parameters,” they added, saying that more soundtracks from epic movies should be played in the operating room to see if they have similar effects. While questions of the Force being with the surgeons are still up in the air, the study could also change the dynamic of the operating room and encourage more people to undergo cancer screening to detect the disturbance in their own Force.