Why A Laugh a Day

Scientists and comedians alike, such as Patch Adams, have proved time and time again that laughter is the best medicine.  Just as exercise releases endorphins, or “feel good hormones,” so does laughter.

   But laughter does much more than that.  Laughter increases your heart rate and breathing, increases blood flow (through the expansion of blood vessels), and boosts your immune system (through increasing infection-fighting antibodies and levels of immune cells).  All of these positive influences on your health will reduce stress and help you get a better night of sleep.

   ABC News sites a study by leading researcher Lee Burk that tracked heart patients at Loma Linda University over one year’s time.  

   The 48 patients were divided up into two groups, one of which watched 30 minutes of comedy every day, in addition to their regular cardiac care program.  The other group didn’t see the movies…

   …”Heart attacks diminished drastically in the group that watched the comedies,” says Berk.  Other symptoms improved to the point that medications were reduced.  Only two of the patients who watched the movies had heart attacks during the experiment, compared to 10 who did not see the movies.”

   Also in the news, a Japanese scientist is:  “unlocking the secrets of the funny bone,” which he believes can cheer up people’s genes.  According to geneticist Kazup Markami:

   Genes are usually regarded as immutable, but in reality more than 90 percent of them are dormant or less active in producing protein, so some types of stimulation can wake them up…

   Murakami, director of Japan’s Foundation for Advancement of International Science, believes that laughter may be one such stimulant and is leading research to prove it.  Thus far, one of his studies proved that laughter lowered diabetics’ blood glucose level when subjected to stand-up comedians of Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd.

   …His latest experiment with the entertainment firm spotted at least 23 genes that can be activated.  Eighteen of them are designed to work for immune response, signal transduction and cell cycle, while functions of the remaining five are still unknown.

    OK doc., shouldn’t our prescriptions read as such: exercise, an apple, and laughter a day to keep the doctor away?  Certainly, for there are no side effects and the price tag of a video rental is trivial when compared to the rising cost of health care and health care coverage.