Yet another study points to evidence that it just could be, according to an article in The Miami Herald. Researchers at UCLA are testing that theory at a lab in their medical center.
As part of the study, they are asking healthy children to stick their hands in frigid water. Kids watching funny videos, ranging from the Marx Brothers to The Simpsons, are able to keep their hands in the cold water up to 40 percent longer. Some researchers say it's nothing more than the ability of the movies to distract children. Others say there is more to it than that. They point to a Japanese study that shows allergy patients watching Charlie Chaplin in the movie "Modern Times" had their skin welts shrink. Maryland researchers say people who are more likely to laugh have healthier hearts than people who don't. They say having a sense of humor might somehow protect the heart.
Also at UCLA, researchers are trying to find out how humor affects the physiologic responses to stress in 30 children. They are measuring changes in heart rate, blood pressure and the levels of stress hormones like cortisol. They hope their studies will eventually mean smaller doses of narcotic pain medications, shorter hospital stays and better quality of life for those who are suffering from disease.
The idea is that psychological experiences, such as stress and anxiety, can influence immune function. That, in turn, might have an effect on disease. This is also known as psychoneuro-immunology. To find out more about that, you can read this article from The American Psychological Association. To find out more about how stress can affect the course of disease, you can read this article from Behavioral Medicine.