Laughter may not be
the best medicine, after all. The Christmas issue of British Medical Journal
(BMJ), one of the world's oldest and most prestigious medical journals, takes a
hard and serious take on laughter. Laugh related dangers range from asthma
attacks to strokes, says the article.
is not purely beneficial. The harms it can
cause are immediate and dose related, the risks being highest for Homeric
(uncontrollable) laughter," the authors wrote.
The authors delved deep into researches related to laughter
that were published between 1946 and 2013; an analysis was drawn from nearly
Laughter weakens resolve and promotes your preference for
certain brands. Hence it is better for doctors to be sceptical of those cheer
laden witty drug reps.
may not be that good for the heart
Hearty laughter can cause syncope, due to neurological
changes. It can lead to conduction abnormalities and arrhythmias. 'Laughing fit
to burst can cause cardiac rupture,' observes BMJ. There has been a reported
case of death after intense sustained laughter in a woman with a condition
known as long QT syndrome
Laugher may provoke inhalation of foreign bodies. It
sometimes triggers attacks of asthma
. Pilgaard-Dahl syndrome
is a rare
condition in which middle aged smokers
can develop a condition called pneumothorax. Exhaled air flow during laughter
can disseminate infections.
to the nervous system
Laughter can trigger cataplexy, i.e. sudden loss of muscle
tone. It may precipitate headaches. In one recorded case, 'a woman with a
patent foramen ovale laughed uproariously for three minutes, became aphasic,
and had a cerebral infarct.''
to the digestive system
Laughter is an unusual precipitant of Boerhaave's syndrome
, i.e. spontaneous rupture of the food pipe. It
may also make hernia protrude.
Laughter is thus not as light as we think. A strong laughter
may dislocate your jaw; it can cause stress incontinence.
Gelastic seizures manifest by laughing, thus laughter can be pathological.
Don't panic anyway, laughter also has a brighter side.
Laughter can increase pain thresholds. Laughter prevents
heart attacks; it
is good for blood vessels. Authors also note that laughter induced by a clown
improved lung function
patients with the lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
day of merriment consumes over 8360 kJ (2000 kcal), improves glycaemic control,
and cures obesity'
. Laughter has obstetric benefits
would-be-mothers undergoing treatment for infertility benefitted from the
entertainment provided clown, dressed as a chef de cuisine.
The ENT benefits may be deduced from this line, "A surgeon proceeded
to read [to me] the diverting history of 'The Lady Rohesia' [from The Ingoldsby Legends
how she was cured of her quinsy... The story caused me to laugh, and this led
to the bursting of the [tonsillar] abscess, and to my cure without the use of
The latest revelations 'refute the proposition that laughter
can only be beneficial.' Well, now we have been warned decently well about the
risks of outbursts of laughter!
Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of
Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful): narrative synthesis. BMJ 2013;347:f7274