FRIDAY, May 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- There's no scientific evidence to support the belief that some dying people can cling to life long enough to celebrate one last birthday or holiday, says a study in the May issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.
Washington University School of Medicine researchers reviewed two decades of research and found the studies were often contradictory, of poor quality and showed only modest effects. Many of the studies offered no explanation of mechanisms that would delay or hasten death.
"The studies published to date have not convincingly established that death can be postponed through force of will or hastened by the loss of the desire to live," the study authors wrote.
The hypothesis was first presented 30 years ago in a sociology journal. It was suggested that some dying people could prolong their lives long enough to be on hand for some personally or culturally significant event.
The National Library of Medicine has more on death and dying.