It’s no longer the ultimate cure, new UK study finds
Go ahead: Laugh at your own peril. So, you still think laughter is still the best medicine. Think again as a new review of previous studies shows otherwise, and expert recommendations now are no laughing matter.
In fact, excessive laughter is now considered hazardous to one’s health. Laughing may seem to offer health benefit but no longer at all times.
“Laughter is no joke,” the researchers wrote in a special Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal — a light-hearted edition of the journal that includes real research.
While laughter carries a low risk of harm, “our review refutes the proposition that laughter can only be beneficial,” an online report quoted the researchers, from City Hospital Birmingham in the United Kingdom as saying.
Still, 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),” the researchers joked.
For some people, even a fit of giggles can have serious consequences, fresh findings by researchers that reviewed studies on laughter published between 1946 and 2013 showed.
The researchers indeed found much evidence that laughing really is good for you.
For example, laughing has been shown to improve blood-vessel function and reduce stiffness of the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart problems such as heart attacks.[pq]One study found that people who laugh easily have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.[/pq]
A 2006 study suggested that 10 to 15 minutes of genuine laughter a day may burn up to 40 calories.
Another study, published in 2011, found that laughing increases a person’s tolerance to pain, which the authors suggest is due to the release of endorphins – the so-called happy hormones.
But the review found that in rare incidents, laughing even for a short period can be risky.
One woman with a condition that causes a hole in the heart experienced a stroke after laughing uproariously for three minutes, the researcher said.
The most common potential danger is sucking in small things while breathing uncontrollably. In fact, some people have accidentally breathed in foreign objects while trying to catch their breath during laughter.
[pq]Studies showed that laughing for extended periods can even dislocate the jaw.[/pq]
The researchers noted that, like any involuntary facial muscular movement — a cough or a sneeze, laughter has the potential to spread infectious diseases.