APS: Laughter Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Inducing mirthful laughter as part of diabetes care increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol

MONDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetic patients whose treatment included 30 minutes of activity to induce laughter had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, according to a study presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference held from April 18 to 22 in New Orleans.

Lee S. Berk, of Loma Linda University, and Stanley Tan, M.D., of the Oak Crest Health Research Institute, both in Loma Linda, Calif., conducted a study of 20 diabetics with hypertension and hyperlipidemia who were given either standard care for their three medical conditions or standard care plus 30 minutes of self-selected humor every day.

Patients in the laughter group had higher levels of HDL cholesterol after two months of treatment, and decreased tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon-gamma, interleukin-6, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein blood levels after four months, the researchers found. As a result, they are at lower risk for cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome, the investigators note.

"The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope," Berk said in a statement. "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."

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