ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
CANCER
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
CAREGIVING
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Add your Article

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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