ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Sea Worm Inspires Novel Bone Glue
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
CAREGIVING
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu May Have Infected More Than 100,000 Americans
After Job Loss, People Report More Health Issues
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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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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