Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is laughter really the best medicine?

Date:
December 13, 2013
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Laughter may not be the best medicine after all, and can even be harmful to some patients, suggests the authors of a paper recently published.

Laughter may not be the best medicine after all and can even be harmful to some patients, suggests the authors of a paper published in the Christmas edition of The BMJ.

Related Articles


Researchers from Birmingham and Oxford, in the UK, reviewed the reported benefits and harms of laughter. They used data published between 1946 and 2013. They concluded that laughter is a serious matter.

They identified benefits from laughter; harms from laughter; and conditions causing pathological laughter.

Some conditions benefit from 'unintentional' (Duchenne) laughter. Laughter can increase pain thresholds although hospital clowns had no impact on distress in children undergoing minor surgery (even though they were in stitches). Laughter reduces arterial wall stiffness,which the researchers suggest may relieve tension. And it lowered the risk of heart attack, so "reading the Christmas BMJ could add years to your life."

Clowns improved lung function in patients with COPD and 'genuine laughter' for a whole day could burn 2000 calories and lower the blood sugar in diabetics. Laughter also enhanced fertility: 36% of would-be mothers who were entertained by a clown after IVF and embryo transfer became pregnant compared with 20% in the control group.

However, laughter can also have adverse effects. One woman with racing heart syndrome collapsed and died after a period of intense laughter and laughing 'fit to burst' was found to cause possible heart rupture or a torn gullet. A quick intake of breath during laughing can cause inhalation of foreign bodies and can provoke an asthma attack. Laughing like a drain can cause incontinence. And hernias can occur after laughing: rapture causing rupture.

The authors' list conditions that cause pathological laughter and this may help in diagnosis. Epileptic seizures ("gelastic seizures") are the most common cause.

The researchers say that their review challenges the view that laughter can only be beneficial but do add that humour in any form carries a "low risk of harm and may be beneficial." They conclude that it remains to be seen whether "sick jokes make you ill, dry wit causes dehydration or jokes in bad taste [cause] dysgeusia (distortion of sense of taste)."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. E. Ferner, J. K. Aronson. Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful): narrative synthesis. BMJ, 2013; 347 (dec12 3): f7274 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f7274

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Is laughter really the best medicine?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213094943.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2013, December 13). Is laughter really the best medicine?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213094943.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Is laughter really the best medicine?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213094943.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins