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Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Date:4/17/2009

Those who chuckled daily had better 'good' cholesterol than those who didn't, study shows

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Setting aside time each day for some good, hearty laughter could help diabetics improve their cholesterol levels and possibly lower their risk of heart attack, researchers report.

"Laughter may indeed be a good medicine," said study author Lee Berk, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif. "Laughter may be as valuable as the diabetes medicines you are taking."

Berk is slated to present his findings at the American Physiological Society annual meeting in New Orleans.

Berk and his colleague, Dr. Stanley Tan, an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute in Loma Linda, assigned 20 adults with type 2 diabetes, average age 50, to a control group or the laughter group.

All had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Both groups were taking standard diabetes medications, high blood pressure medicines and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The laughter group was instructed to view "self-selected" humor for at least 30 minutes every day. Self-selected humor, Berk said, was "that which they found humorous or funny for themselves." That usually meant watching sitcoms or funny movies.

The laughter group members got into it, he said, and were faithful to the minimum exposure to humor time of 30 minutes daily. "Once they got into it, they really liked it," he said.

After 12 months, the researchers evaluated both groups by such tests as measuring cholesterol levels and levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation thought to be associated with heart disease.

The laughter group had an increase in "good" HDL cholesterol of 26 percent, compared to just a 3 percent increase in the good cholesterol of the control group, Berk said. Harmful C-reactive proteins d
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