Well Worth It: A Giggle

Welcome to another Well Worth It – articles about proven, data-driven studies that you may not hear much about in

Laughing Elijah #1
Image by Yogi via Flickr

the main-stream media (usually because of a lack of profit-driven PR). Be sure to forward the Well Worth It information along to anyone you think might benefit!

If you’re a diabetic at high risk of heart attacks, how’s about a daily dose of something – FREE – that can

1) boost your “good” cholesterol (HDL) by 26%

2) lower your blood’s markers of chronic inflammation (C-reactive protein – an increasingly important marker for potential blood-vessel damage) by 66%

Study members who didn’t get a daily dose of this good stuff (just the usual medical care) had numbers of 3% and 26% (the differences between the two groups, even though the numbers of study participants were small, were still statistically significant).

Hmm. No cost. Easy to obtain. What about side effects?

[imagine the rapid-reading male hushed voice always present at the end of pharmaceutical commercials:] Peoplewhohaveusedourproducthavereportedsideeffectsoflighteheadednessoccasionaleyetearingandminorincidents ofslighturinaryincontinencepredominantlyamonggroupsofpostmenopausalwomenaswellasrareepisodesofsnorting milkoutyournose…

Some of you may have guessed the drug already – it’s laughter! Diabetics with high blood pressure and high cholesterol were randomly assigned to “usual care” or told to watch 30 minutes a day of laughter-inducing media, usually sitcoms or funny movies. Each individual got to choose what was funny for him/herself. The researchers state that, once the study participants got going, compliance wasn’t an issue – they were “faithful to the minimum exposure to humor time of 30 minutes daily. ‘Once they got into it, they really liked it,'” the lead researcher said.

While the study appears to be relatively well-designed and the participants were followed for 12 months, the caveats are that the results haven’t been published yet (only reported in the news so far) and the numbers are small. Even so – the physiology behind the benefits of laughter are valid, and numerous other studies (in other groups of patients) substantiate the benefits of joy as a self-empowering, stress-lowering factor in health. Besides, what have you got to lose? Spending half an hour laughing is Well Worth It in my book – and now there’s some scientific support for doing it consistently.

This week over at Diabetes Mine, Amy Tenderich is hosting Grand Rounds on her birthday! One of her most recent posts discusses with clarity and insight the overall depressing news in last week’s special JAMA edition devoted to diabetes research. So I’d like to offer a wee antidote – a birthday bit of humor dedicated to the lovely Ms. Tenderich – one that made me laugh (and I sooo hope it’s funny to her too!). Where’s it from? If you (like me!) have been rightly fixated by the saga of the wonderful Susan Boyle* on this week’s Britain’s Got Talent, you may have missed a fellow act during the same episode – check it out:  Grab a moment and watch five minutes (just five!) of the highly-unique Greek Irish dancers.

Laughter is a God-given gift. A lifetime bubble of joy that wants to float to the top of our souls given half a chance to rise. May we all chuckle and snort. Consistently.

*Why have we all been so fixated by Susan Boyle? I love this powerful insight – passed on from BBC news, “Lisa Schwarzbaum, writer for US celebrity magazine Entertainment Weekly, said the [Susan Boyle] performance was a powerful reality check: ‘In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging – the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts – the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace.’

‘She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective.'”

Got a source for 30 minutes of humorous media? Share it with us in the comments section below (now that’s the best kind of self-health!).

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