Sunday, April 19, 2009

Diabetic Study Shows Laughter is Good for the Heart

Laughter has been studied as a way to better health. Laughter Yoga clubs have been gaining popularity worldwide. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, and a new study shows that laughter is literally good for the heart. Laughter can reduce heart disease risk among diabetics. The study showed that regular laughter lowered all markers of inflammation among the diabetics studied, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.

Laughter induces the release of beta-endorphins, improving mood. Laughter also releases the beneficial hormone HGH (human growth hormone), necessary for optimal cellular function.

Diabetics who chose funny videos to watch for twelve months were compared to diabetics who received standard medical care alone. Both groups of diabetics received medication for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure management throughout the study.

Researchers Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, and Stanley Tan, MD, PhD an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute found that the diabetics, who regularly engaged in laughter from watching self-chosen humorous videos, were able to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and lower stress hormones after two months.

After twelve months, the diabetics who regularly laughed had a twenty-six percent increase in HDL cholesterol. C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation) was lowered by sixty-six percent as the result of laughter. Compared to the diabetics who received standard medical treatment alone, and not prescribed a regular regimen of laughter, the scientists saw a three percent rise in HDL, and a twenty-six percent reduction in C-reactive protein.

The study builds on previous research about the beneficial health effects of laughter. Dr. Berk, a pioneer of laughter studies beginning in the 1980’s says, “The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope.
"Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment,” sats Berk.

Regular laughter, combined with a positive outlook is now shown to be good for the heart – seen in the newest study that included twenty high-risk diabetics who lowered their risk of heart disease as a result of regular laughter.

Enjoy a heart healthy laugh: