ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
CANCER
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
EYE CARE, VISION
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Drink Away Dementia?
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
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Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

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 declined by 66 percent in the laughter group but just 26 percent for the control group. Both differences were statistically significant, Berk noted.

What's the secret? Put very simply, Berk said, "you are decreasing the bad chemicals in the body with laughter and increasing the good chemicals, which help you stay well, may prevent disease and may well have [additional] value relative to the therapies you are taking."

The findings came as no surprise to Theresa Garnero, a nurse and diabetes educator at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, who has long employed humor in helping her patients deal with diabetes. She also has woven information about the use of humor into the books she has written on the topic.

A growing body of evidence finds value in humor when dealing with diabetes, Garnero said. She cites another study in which laughter helped to lower the increase in blood glucose that occurs after meals. Laughter, she said, "can help put things in perspective, light the fire of self-care management -- this is a self-care disease -- and help people maintain their stride."

"There is so much minutia involved in this disease," Garnero said, referring to the detailed instructions those with diabetes get from their doctor and diabetes educator to maintain a healthy diet, watch their blood sugar, and be on the alert for any symptoms of complications of the disease. "By adding a little humor, they can maintain perspective over the long haul," she said.

Sue McLaughlin, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association, said, "It is encouraging to know that something like laughter, which is cost-free and can be shared and promoted by many, has beneficial effects on the well-being of a chronic disease that affects 24 million Americans."

Reduction in heart disease risk is especially valuable, she said. "People with diabetes are at a two- to fourfold increased risk for cardiovascular disease, compared to their non-diabetic counterparts."

More information

To learn about more humor books, visit the International Society for Humor Studies.



SOURCES: Lee Berk, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif.; Theresa Garnero, R.N., certified diabetes educator and clinical nurse manager, Center for Diabetes Services, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco; April 18, 2009, presentation, Sue McLaughlin, R.D., certified diabetes educator, American Diabetes Association, The Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha; April 17, 2009, presentation, American Physiological Society annual meeting, New Orleans

Last Updated: April 17, 2009

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